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Desi Di: This Chennai Restaurant is a Pot-Breaking Joint that Experiments with Traditional Food

A daring experiment indeed in these days when the urge is for instant gratification

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Country Chicken Dish served at Desi Di
Country Chicken Dish served at Desi Di. Wikimedia
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  • Chef Aaron Coutinho taps hard around the pot till it develops cracks and removes the top quarter portion to reveal the country chicken inside
  • There is an old payphone instrument that was ubiquitous in the 1980s, a hand-wound gramophone, the front portion of a Tata truck, vintage tables and steel chairs
  • One of the wall paintings is that of an attractive Rajput princess wearing shades and holding a smartphone

Chennai, August 21, 2017: The newly-opened Desi Di Restaurant is certainly a pot-breaking joint while trying to be a path breaker. So, what’s a pot-breaker?

‘Country matka chicken’ is one of the dishes on the menu and it is served in style. An aluminium  tray holding rice bowls, a sealed mud pot, an onion plate, dal and other items are brought to the diner’s table.

Chef Aaron Coutinho taps hard around the pot till it develops cracks and removes the top quarter portion to reveal the country chicken inside. Curious diners start clicking pictures of the pot-breaking ritual with their smartphones.

At Rs 1,599, the dish is one of the costliest at Desi Di. And it tastes good, with the portion size enough for four. It’s a meal in itself.

“This is one of the four dishes that need to be ordered 24 hours ahead. The country chicken has to be marinated for several hours before it can be cooked,” Coutinho explained.

A daring experiment indeed in these days when the urge is for instant gratification.

Desi Di is conceptualized as a restaurant reminding people of a bygone era. Outside the restaurant door, is the wheel of a cart-turned-reception table with sharbat bottles and a “Welcum” board on it. The word welcome has been deliberately misspelled to remind one of what is normally seen outside some rural shops, said a staffer.

Also Read: Sanjha Chulha: This Famous Eatery from Kolkata Feeds the Underprivileged with their Food ATM

The interiors also offer some nostalgia. There is an old payphone instrument that was ubiquitous in the 1980s, a hand-wound gramophone, the front portion of a Tata truck, vintage tables and steel chairs.

One of the wall paintings is that of an attractive Rajput princess wearing shades and holding a smartphone.

Soon after taking a seat, mocktails – lemon barley shikanji and red hibiscus iced tea were offered. Served in a tall beaker with a long straw, the red hibiscus tea was refreshing. “The drink is made with dried leaves of hibiscus and flowers,” Coutinho said.The lemon barley shikanji had a mild jaljeera taste.

By this time, the starters – vada pao (open-faced steamed bun), arbi (colocasia) pakoda, tandoori phool gobhi (cauliflower) and mirch pakoda had arrived at the table.

The arbi pakoda was served in an aluminium tumbler while the mirch pakoda came in a tiffin box that children used to take to schools in the 1970s.

“I used to take my lunch to school in a box like that,” a middle-aged female guest at the next table was heard commenting.

The vada pao and arbi pakoda were divine. “Instead of finger chips made with potato we decided on arbi,” Coutinho said.

Non-vegetarians can bet on a country chicken Afghani kebab. Similarly, the spicy mushroom khakra ya papad was nice and crispy and did not get soggy.

“As for dips, we decided to go for locally available veggies like makkai (corn), radish, ridge gourd or pumpkin,” Coutinho explained. The restaurant’s radish chutney was good and could go with all the dishes.

Also Read: Adopting these Ancient Food Practices Will Help You to Live a Healthy Life

Desi Di offers various items for light and heavy meals. Seafood lovers can choose prawn balchao stuffed calamari on a bed of lapsi/broken wheat. When bitten, the prawn and squid give out a nice flavor.

Vegetarians can try out Gujarat’s stuffed panki with varied stuffings. It was time to go for kala-khatta soda to ease the tummy for other dishes.

Coutinho came to the table carrying a charcoal burnt unshaved coconut. On opening the coconut top, the smell of cooked prawn and mustard oil wafted out. The dish was good with rice, but a dash of additional chilli is needed for the southern palate.The spicy Goan fish curry with brown rice (or if you wish, basmati or ponni rice) was also good.

On the other hand, the vegetarian paneer khurchan accompanied with dal tadka went well with rice and roti. The masala millet kichadi with Gujarati Kadi was also good.

For dessert, the gulab jamun cheesecake, gajar ka halwa,  falooda, and kulfi were on offer.

FAQs

What: Desi Di

Where: Integral Club, Pilkington Road, Ayanavaram, Chennai

Cost for two: Rs 800 plus taxes/Rs 1,599 if ordering the specialty, but remember, this is ideal for a group of four (IANS)

 

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Nearly Half of the Teenagers in the US and Japan are ‘Addicted’ to Smartphones, Says New Report

Nowadays, one of the worst things that can happen to us is, like, 'Oh, I left my phone at home,'

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smartphones
Brian Vega, left, Peyton Ruiz, second from left, and Max Marrero, right, check their smartphones at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) (VOA)

California, October 12, 2017 : About half of teenagers in the United States and Japan say they are addicted to their smartphones.

University of Southern California (USC) researchers asked 1,200 Japanese about their use of electronic devices. The researchers are with the Walter Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Their findings were compared with an earlier study on digital media use among families in North America.

“Advances in digital media and mobile devices are changing the way we engage not only with the world around us, but also with the people who are the closest to us,” said Willow Bay, head of the Annenberg School.

The USC report finds that 50 percent of American teenagers and 45 percent of Japanese teens feel addicted to their smartphones.

SMARTPHONES
Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, Sept. 28, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. VOA

“This is a really big deal,” said James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, an organization that helped with the study. “Just think about it, 10 years ago we didn’t even have smartphones.”

Sixty-one percent of Japanese parents believe their children are addicted to the devices. That compares to 59 percent of the American parents who were asked.

Also, more than 1-in-3 Japanese parents feel they have grown dependent on electronic devices, compared to about 1-in-4 American parents.

Leaving your phone at home is ‘one of the worst things’

“Nowadays, one of the worst things that can happen to us is, like, ‘Oh, I left my phone at home,’” said Alissa Caldwell, a student at the American School in Tokyo. She spoke at the USC Global Conference 2017, which was held in Tokyo.

smartphones
People look at their smartphones in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. VOA

A majority of Japanese and American parents said their teenagers used mobile devices too much. But only 17 percent of Japanese teens agreed with that assessment. In the United States, 52 percent of teens said they are spending too much time on mobile devices.

Many respond immediately to messages

About 7-in-10 American teens said they felt a need to react quickly to mobile messages, compared to about half of Japanese teens.

In Japan, 38 percent of parents and 48 percent of teens look at and use their devices at least once an hour. In the United States, 69 percent of parents and 78 percent of teens say they use their devices every hour.

Naturally, that hourly usage stops when people are sleeping, the researchers said.

SMARTPHONES
Young people using smartphones. (Photo courtesy Kuvituskuvat via Flickr) (VOA)

The devices are a greater cause of conflict among teens and parents in the United States than in Japan. One-in-3 U.S. families reported having an argument every day about smarthphone use. Only about 1-in-6 Japanese families say they fight every day over mobile devices.

Care more about devices than your children?

But 20 percent of Japanese teens said they sometimes feel that their parents think their mobile device is more important than they are. The percentage of U.S. teens saying they feel this way is 6 percent.

In the United States, 15 percent of parents say their teens’ use of mobile devices worsens the family’s personal relationships. Eleven percent of teens feel their parents’ use of smarthphones is not good for their relationship.

The USC research was based on an April 2017 study of 600 Japanese parents and 600 Japanese teenagers. Opinions from American parents and teenagers were collected in a study done earlier by Common Sense Media.

Bay, the Annenberg School of Communications dean, said the research raises critical questions about the effect of digital devices on family life.

She said the cultural effects may differ from country to country, but “this is clearly a global issue.” (VOA)