A Madrasi in Gurgaon: (Filter) coffee and conversation
No self-respecting urban city is complete without its coffee shops. And Gurgaon being India’s most urban avatar, has more than its own share of Starbucks, Coffee days, Baristas, Costa coffees Lavazzas and numerous other homegrown self-styled cafes.
What better way to welcome somebody into a city than with a cup of coffee?
On my first day of the mall mile exploration, I eagerly pit stopped for coffee at a Costa Coffee inside Mega City mall. Blech! A lightly flavored excuse for a coffee arrived.
Ok, I get that Haryana is a traditional ‘Chai’ sipping state (as is with most of north India) but ask any coffee lover, a dose of good aromatic and strong filter coffee is something not to be toyed with lightly. You can take a Madrasi out of Chennai, but you can’t take the filter coffee loving soul out of one.
So imagine my horror when I realized that none of my nearby shops/supermarkets stocked filter coffee powder!! Most had never heard of it.
That’s when a friendly neighbor came to the rescue. Some enterprising Keralites (Mallus, as they are referred to as) have set up South Indian shops in Gurgaon that stock many very quintessential items no south Indian can do without. This is manna not only for all from south of Vindhyas, but also for the globalized ‘northy’ whose cultural menus have expanded to adopt south Indian stuff.
The best one is Balaji store in Vakil market. It’s in the lane besides Mother’s Pride school, opposite Galleria Market. Go right to the end of the lane till you get to a T point, and the market is on the left, just as you turn right. Another one is New Ammus, in Sushant Arcade basement. Ammus also runs a small eatery where you can get good parotta and beef curry. There’s apparently one in the Power Grid apartments also, though I have not checked it out.
Numerous brands of filter coffee, idli chutney powder, papadam, banana/cassava chips, south indian mango pickle…just to name a few are available here. Balaji store also keeps packed fresh grated and frozen coconut which I find very useful.
A few high end supermarkets like Needs Gourmet or Le Marche, Food Hall are good bets to get south Indian stuff.
So now that you know where to get it, here’s how you make filter coffee at home.
You will first of all need a filter. The numerous electric coffee makers available are adequate, but you don’t get a strong decoction out of it. Unless you go in for high-end machines, which cost over 10K. I personally like a small stove top version that is available at coffee day or barista. Takes just 5 minutes and you get a really strong decoction that is good for 4-5 cups of coffee. Costs about 500 bucks.
To be fair, there are a few standalone cafes in town that do make a good cup of coffee. Try Delhi heights, Goodricke Teapot, De Ghent, Café 7, Crispy Crème or Amici.
You don’t have to be a ‘madrasi’ to appreciate South Indian strong coffee. So, Cheers!