Thursday, February 11, 2010

Triveni Kala Sangam : Cafeteria/ Tea Terrace

Mumbai has Café Samovar, Bangalore has Koshy’s, Kolkata…… well Flury’s in its older Avatar. All these characterize the city or render character to it. Working in a newspaper in the early 90’s and especially in an, nearly all women team had its advantages. They introduced me to eating places where the radicals, writers, artists and thinkers hung out then. Now the corporate suits, lawyers, lovers and an odd artist hang out. But, the food is nice.

In the early and mid 90s, you saw Sudhir Dhar, the Cartoonist with HT, seated tall and alone at lunch nearly every day. I last saw him singing Carols with the kids in Richmond Park in Guragaon a few years ago. We went their then to be a part of the Fabindia fraternity, as a talisman of reverse snobbery rather than for the home cooked food that it Triveni Canteen/ Café and now Tea terrace offered.

For someone who had parathas, gobhi, palak paneer, channa, rajma, kadhi as a regular menu at home. eating at Triveni was a Fabindia statement ( Fabindia was a very Delhi wallah brand then, Its nearly national now), smoking, fruit beer, or just beer, Hindi theatre at Copernicus marg, drinking copious quantities of Indian Whisky, knowing a few kebab joints, having a joint, knowing a friend with an apartment at KG Marg, going backstage to meet the caste of an English play, hanging out with Femina Miss India contenders, English movies at Archana and Chanakya, Kolhapuris, Kohl rimmed eyes for women, cotton saris, jeans, stencil shirts, gifting potted plants……. And holding hands (all seem passé now), but you get the drift of the Fabindia idiom.

A lot has changed, however little has changed at Triveni…. Except the name a few more dishes, higher prices and slightly better service…………
Now for our last experience On a Friday the Discovery Channel Alumni met at the bar Past Times at the India habitat Centre. The next day, Saturday, the Alumni of Mint (the newspaper) met at the Triveni, Tea Terrace. In fact it was a stripped down version. People kept dropping out like nine pins, mother -in-law not well, have migraine, in a presentation with boss, just silence and no excuse. The four of us said what the heck, let’s eat. And eat we did.

Throwing care to the winds we ordered, 4 plates of Shammi kebab, 2 keema and peas, 1 paneer bhurji, I Aloo Jeera, another Paneer bhurji and lots of rotis with a coffee each. It’s supposed to be an afternoon lunch in a budget, we in our ditched out state overcame with stuffing ourselves. The food was nice in fact too much; the keema had a rough and chunky texture. Rahul Verma of The Hindu (who I have mentioned earlier and is way ahead of the game on food writing, has reviewed Triveni before) said, its due to thefrozen keema which has not been thawed and cooked.We wiped the plates clean. Shot the breeze in the sun.

It’s great place that fits into the under hundred rupees per head budget for the Salesman guide to eating out. Its another issue that we ate with vengeance and spent Rs 800/- for four persons (Rs200/- per head). The place is more efficiently run by Meenu Singh. Kamla Rai the founder and the person who ran it for decades is her Aunt.
Trivia : Triveni Kala Sangam was designed by Joseph Allen Stein and was made in 1963 under the able guidance of Mrs Sundari K Shridharani. The nook the book shop of rare collectible books, has shut down. The Tea Terrace is popular and life goes on.
I am sure you have a favorite Triveni Story if you are a dilliwala or have visited the place. Love to hear it.
So Long !

7 comments:

The knife said...

Is this the one at Delhi?

I have a story. Not a nice one. I was at Delhi a couple of Auto Expos back. The gentleman I was with wanted to go to Triveni to relive his afternoon lunches from a time gone by. I wasn't too enthused but had to play along. Ordered chicken curry and roti. And the runs even before we could settle the bill

The irony was that we went to Dilli Haat after that. Surrounded by food stalls and a Waswan food festival. I was tearing my hair. After trudging at the Auto Expo for two days I woas out of action when I finely reached an Exp;o of my choice.

And the least Triveni could do, given their poor quality control, is to keep soap in the loo!!!!!

Sorry to mar your memories but had to vent this :)

Samil said...

Dear Kalyan,

Could have been a bad day. Generally they keep it simple.
Can offer to take you around in Delhi the next time you are here.

Cheers,

Sam

The knife said...

I will take you up on that Sam. I believe that Delhi has truckloads to offer in terms of food. It has its heart in the right place. Just haven't been there in more than a year. The trip I mentioned was probably amongst my last. The rest were to Gurgaon after that

Praveen said...

Dear Sam,

i am surprised you give the credit to the women in TOI for introducing you to fabindia kind of places....as far as i know..you knew them all when we first met..brings back memories of 1991-92 when we explored all these places...triveni is a favourite of our little one as well...i had taken her to experience the snacks ...remembering the samosas we used to go for..Ananya loved the aloo tikki with sprinkled chat masala.

ranjan my first boss also used to love triveni. i remember going for many saturday lunches with the entire team. we would gorge the kebabs, keema and kadi..the kadi is very yummy too.
I have introduced triveni to colleagues, family , friends...each one loved the setting and the experience.

it must have been the pioneer in alfresco dining in the seventies.

we must go their soon.

love

praveen and ananya

injeela said...

am feeling really bad that i had to miss this one, that too for a very boring review .

the pic would've also looked better with me in it !!!!!!

next time
cheers

Samil said...

sure injeela....

Cheers
Sam

Anonymous said...

Lots of good reading here, thank you! I had been looking on yahoo when I uncovered your post, I’m going to add your feed to Google Reader, I look forward to additional from you.