Coffee and Kunafa
And an Ode to El Arab, New Delhi
My precious Moka Pots
I love coffee. I love the smell as much as I love the taste. I was given 2 of my moka pots by my cousins, Anna and Toby more than 20 years ago and I got my Carmencita 7 years ago in Melbourne. They are treasured possessions.
I still haven’t found a place to buy my coffee beans in Bombay so I still get my supply from a little shop called Devans in Delhi. Devans is hidden away in Lodhi Colony. My mother has the roasted beans picked up and couriered to me or I carry back a couple of kilos when I visit.
Mr Dev, the owner’s father, moved to Delhi from Kerala and started the store in 1962. North Indians are tea drinkers so their clientele has always been Keralites, foreign diplomats and a small handful of locals who like real coffee. With the popularity of cafes like Barista, Coffee Café Day and Bru more people are drinking coffee now and their client base has widened.
I love the Devan’s Arabica Special Blend. They use Peabury Beans for flavour and Plantation for body. This time I bought a coffee called Malabar Monsoon. It’s one of their specialty coffees, which is only available after the monsoon.
They also sell good teas from the Darjeeling and Nilgiri Hills and Assam.
We were in Delhi for Easter and as I was driving back from getting my coffee supply I passed a new store called Kunafa. I had to go back to check it out. I love Kunafa, Baklava and Basbousa – any Middle Eastern sweets despite not being a huge dessert person. It’s a new store and had an amazing range of Baklava. Unfortunately didn’t have any Kunafa in stock. I bought an assorted box of Baklava. Next trip to Delhi I’m definitely going back.
My favourite restaurant, El Arab, in the Regal Building in Connaught Place, New Delhi, closed down about 10 years ago. It was owned by an Egyptian lady married to an Indian. I loved the interiors – lots of fabulous sheesham wood floors, furniture and serving bowls and of course, amazing food.
My favourite food at El Arab was the Mezze – Hummus, Tabbouleh and Baba Ghanouj with Pitta Bread, the Falafel with Labneh, Samak and Djaj Meshwi both served with delicious rice which they apparently grew themselves. They also did a really nice buffet at lunchtime. Their drinks were very good and unusual. Mint iced tea, different from any iced tea I’ve ever had and a delicious lime juice which was slightly bitter – I think they used the whole lime, hot mint tea and cardamom flavoured Egyptian coffee, which they’d bring around in a traditional brass pot and pour it out at the table. And finally, the desserts. This is where I developed a taste for Middle Eastern sweets. Basbousa, a Honey Cake (also Basbousa?) with syrup and fresh cream, and Zalabiya. There were more but these are the ones I remember.
Hope they re open.