Fully loaded ♦

Purely via word-of-mouth, this unassuming little room with a view has become the new hotspot in Hauz Khas Village. Ears are buzzing, tongues are tingling and Dilliwalas in the know are all asking the same question: “Have you been to Gunpowder yet?”
Of course, it helps that one of the owners, Satish Warrier, has worked in the Delhi media industry and is well-connected (almost every diner is welcomed by name). He and anthropologist Kiran Bhushi cook, serve and otherwise manage the South Indian eatery with the help of a chef from Kerala and his assistant. Sometimes, their friends help wait tables in exchange for food.
Despite its back alley location and the fact that Gunpowder is perched atop several steep flights of stairs, the restaurant is well-situated, with a gorgeous sunset-facing view of the Hauz Khas reservoir. An open balcony overlooks this prospect. There’s also a room with indoor seating that looks on to the kitchen. The clean white walls, a solid air-conditioner and a few black-and-white photos of food are more than sufficient as far as décor goes. The menu is similarly minimal: it’s hand-written daily in a notebook and consists of four or five meat dishes, several vegetarian options and staples like rice, porotta and neer dosa.
The generous dishes and the prices (they top out around Rs 300) make this a sort of upscale Mallu dhaba, with some additions from the rest of South India (the restaurant’s full name is “Gunpowder: The Peninsular Kitchen”). Our favourite dish so far is the Coorg pork (Rs 240), a dark brown mass of flavoursome meat chunks that are perfect with the super-flaky porottas (Rs 45). The latter are the chef’s speciality and they are as buttery and crispy as can be, and are served piping hot. The Kerala Muslim mutton stew (Rs 260) is also delicious, with mushy slices of potato and carrots thrown in for good measure. We also like the tangy toddy shop meen curry (Rs 300), which is great poured over a mountain of steamed rice (Rs 65). There’s plenty to satisfy vegetarians as well. Though we’ve only tried avial (Rs 110), which is coconut-heavy and full of drumsticks, eggplant etc, the sweet and sour pumpkin and the vegetable stew sound good too.
Warrier and Bhushi are pleasant if slightly overextended hosts. The lack of staff means that service (though very personal) can be a bit slow. We’re happy to forgo service for hospitality at this point, but we’re hoping Gunpowder can iron out a few of its wrinkles before the crowds really start coming in.
Originally published in Time Out Delhi, August 2009.