Leaping Caravan

IMG_5001I have a heart burn that has stayed with me since last night. The last time I experienced a similar heart burn was when in school I found out that the girl I had a secret crush on for almost a year was already seeing someone. Fortunately, this time the heartburn is more stomach related, and thus easily curable, and less to do with my love life.

Leaping Caravan had a gorgeous name, one that is dreamy, promising exciting food from different parts of the world. They succeed in this by serving regional food originating from Lahore, Delhi, Amritsar, Awadh, Kolkata, and even Kabul. Unfortunately, that’s where this dream ends, for me.

Now, I’ve been saying this for quite some time and because I’m still a nobody in the culinary blog world (which can change should you visit, subscribe, and comment on my blog more often), there seems to be no one paying heed to stopping this increasing trend (if that is the right word for it) of making food full of chilies. Spicy does not mean hot and unnecessarily spicy hot food has become somewhat of a pet peeve of mine.

I confess I didn’t mention that I wanted less spicy food while ordering, but I’m tired of always expressly having to state this while placing an order online or at a restaurant. In fact, if anything, it should be the other way round wherein if someone desires mouth burning dishes, they should ask for that specifically. Moreover, shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the establishment to inform the paying customer about spice levels in case they are on the higher side? Debatable maybe, but then I have a fairly good spice tolerance and I’m not looking for bland food either, so it’s not like I complain about everything. I do hope that everyone in the food business realizes that food being ordered is many times eaten by people of different age groups (kids to senior citizens) and palates and as it happened in the case with Leaping Caravan, most of the ordered food went waste because nor my kids or my parents could eat anything.

There were a few positives which included the food being delivered on time, the quantities being very good, the Dahi Kabab being soft and tasty, and the Paneer Makhni (more like Paneer Lababdar because of a shining red gravy) being tolerable and the saving grace of the dinner. But that’s where the negatives take over which far out-rule the positives with most of the ordered items being uneatable due to the exceedingly high spice and oil/butter levels. I do understand that certain curries like Aaloo Vadiyan are inherently zesty. But then this is where the construction of the dish comes into play wherein when the Vadiyan are already fiery, the gravy in turn should be low to moderate in spice levels to counterbalance the hotness. What we had here was spicy Vadiyan, spicy curry, and as a result a teary eyed me. Better still take a look at the Lahori Dal that was ordered because I wanted something different.  While the Dal itself was well cooked and had a good texture, it was once again so full of chilies that whatever flavor there was in it got lost. Furthermore, even though I did manage to eat the Paneer Makhni, it was still quite high on garam masala and might have been the reason for my heart burn. If the mains weren’t enough, the Paneer Masala Roll too was flaming hot and unfortunately removing pieces of green chilies from the couple of butter laden stuffed breads that we ordered was too tedious a task to do for most of my family members and as a result Rotis were cooked at home. Altogether this made for a very heavy meal even though I ate half the amount I normally would.

As a result of this, Leaping Caravan has been crossed by the entire family as a place that we would re-order from, and while I take my second Pudin Hara of the day as I write this review, I have a few suggestions for this delivery-only establishment;

Please work a little on the dishes to make them flavorsome without simply increasing the spice and especially chili levels. You have an interesting menu and the basics are in place, but spice levels should be monitored especially for Indian or South Asian cuisine because these very spices can pretty much make or break a dish.

If you are aware that certain dishes or curries are naturally cooked with chilies, then make it a point to inform the customer. You can tell them over the phone, or have one of those Red Chili drawings next to the food items in the menu. Moreover one very fundamental rule of cooking is that certain things like salt and chilies can always be added more at a later stage, but if you put them in excess, they can’t be removed.

Lastly, since the menu comprises of food that isn’t local, it is always a good idea to give a brief description of the contents in the menu. Many of us are adventurous and we will try something without exactly knowing what goes in it, but having that little bit of an extra information pays in the long run.

Even though I might have ruled off Leaping Caravan, purely based on their spice levels (and someone from the establishment did call me later and apologized for this mishap and offered a replacement meal, which I didn’t take), you shouldn’t do that for the simple reason that if you prefer hot and spicy food and don’t mind a bit of extra butter on your Kulchas, then this place could very well work for you, and if you were to go by what the management told me, that this was a one off case, then who knows, your order just might have the right spice levels after all.

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