I have to admit that I have been a bit chicken when it comes to…well, chicken. Chicken used to be flavorful, even pricey at one time. But now, like a Bollywood starlet a few years past its sell-by date, most discerning diners don’t give it a second glance or as much love as they might have at one time.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it as a protein, but my beef with it (please don’t attack me, o’ Hindu zealots) is the fact it’s become very cookie cutter and generic. You can easily say that some meat “tastes like chicken” if it’s very bleh and, which is worse, it’s not an utterance that will be considered much amiss either.
All is not lost though. There are those that are doing their bit to help stop the poor chicken from sliding, squawking and flapping its way into a world of blandness. Bao Haus Co. does a Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bao that will feed your food soul and then some; Fat Kid Deli’s See-Ra-Cha Tonkatsu almost makes me want to pay obeisance to an obese deity in the sky, and Chicken Story, a delivery only restaurant based out of Powai, is trying its cluck, sorry, luck to add its name to their ilk as they strive to serve the world on your plate, one piece of poultry at a time.
When the team at TCS (not the IT guys, unless by IT you mean Infinitely Tasty) reached out to me to give them a fair crack of the whip, I did what I usually do with the unknown and tried to cook up reasons to say “thanks, but no thanks”.
That became a bit harder when I saw their menu was a bit off the beaten path from other delivery services.
There are, for starters, a Bhoot Jholokia Wings that I’m not yet bold enough to try, lest the fire brigade be called in for support.
For the fun-jabis out there, there are samosas stuffed with butter chicken and a butter chicken khichdi that really caught the eye.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and with a collection of dishes culled from cuisines the world over, TCS really does have something for every palate and every need.
But before I could say “I do”, I decided to have a bit of a test drive to see if the goods are great. And so I threw a bit of a curveball by ordering for that most exotic of chicken dishes; a leafy green salad.
My dislike for salad is plain to see, but I had to admit that if TCS got the crunch and balance of flavours right, they would certainly have my attention since very few places make a quality salad in our little gaon called Powai.
I plumped for the Vietnamese Shredded Chicken Salad that sounded interesting with its mildly citrusy lime vinegar dressing, peanuts, herbs, cilantro, et al. I did ask them to go easy on the carrots though. I’m not a goddamned rabbit and I’m not ready to overdose on vegetables just yet.
Long story short, the salad was a revelation, with the dressing and some sweet chilli sauce neatly packaged alongside the leafy greens to ensure the salad didn’t lose crunch and character, which I greatly appreciated. After all, a soggy salad can be a real wet blanket. Bright, simple, and just big enough on flavour, this is a salad I can honestly have time and time again, and that’s saying something coming from a carni-whore like me.
In fact, I put my money where my mouth is and actually did order this again the next day. That should say it all.
Suitably pleased, we thus acceded to TCS’ request for a tasting and so a big goodie bag winged its way to our place right at the appointed hour. The little care package contained a salad, some garlicky mushroom, cheese and spinach wings, a Cordon Blue (for moi) and an Asian BBQ Grilled Chicken (for the wifey).
Of these items, I loved the Cordon Bleu the most. Served as a roulade, this dish featured ham, chicken and a breaded coating in a ménage à trois all their own, frolicking on a bed of herbed mash. A pool of creamy mushroom ragu sauce (sent separately) was more creamy and infused more with mushroom than anything else, infusing the dish with a lovely, roasty flavour that had me diving back in for seconds and thirds like a junkie looking for his fix.
The Asian BBQ Chicken was the healthier of the two meals, and the soya BBQ sauce blanketed the protein with a smooth, uncloying sweetness that I quite like. It’s like someone took a culinary remote control and muted the sweetness of the traditional BBQ sauce somewhat, and this coupled with the lovely green mashed potatoes make this one filling meal even for the more demanding diners among us.
The wings, stuffed as they were with spinach and mushrooms, were good without wowing me, and at some level I regret not going for the Atomic Wings with the bhoot jholokia, although my digestive system and future me are very thankful I didn’t do so. Some other day perhaps, when I want to cleanse my innards with fire.
Chicken Story is in a club of one when it comes to delivering reasonably VFM world cuisine in and around the Powai precinct, and I’m not going to chicken out of putting my money where my mouth is and saying you should give them a go too. Me, I have my eye on Paaji’s Butter Chicken Khichdi. Come to papa, paaji…