Posted on

Ashok and Ashok Meat Dhaba

This Dhaba Started by Two Friends Sells The Best Mutton

Korma in Delhi

Navneet Virdi Delhi Food Walks

( This Article was first published in NDTV Food )

This Dhaba Started by Two Friends Sells The Best Mutton Korma in Delhi

Highlights
  • This shop was started way back in 1984 by two friends: Ashok and Ashok
  • The korma is made with 30 different kinds of spices and loads of ghee
  • The gravy is served with rotis interwoven with coriander leaves

Photo Credit: Facebook/AshokandAshokMeatDhaba

Walking through the lanes of Sadar Bazar in the scorching heat, I was quite determined to find the extremely famous “Ashok and Ashok Meat Dhaba”. Once I did, it was nothing like I imagined it to be. Since it was extremely famous and had the word ‘Dhaba’ attached at the end, I thought of it to be a fairly medium-sized joint but it turned out to be just a very tiny hole-in-the-wall. But don’t get me wrong, I never judge a book by its cover and I’m glad I did not deviate from my policy this time as well.

The food here makes up for the size of this shop and the story behind it makes it larger than life. This little shop was started way back in 1984 by two friends namely; Ashok and Ashok, well no surprises there! These two friends were titled as the “Macho gangsters” of this area. Alongside their rowdy business, they also loved to make and serve meat curry to the localities. What followed is history. They turned their passion of cooking into their profession and became proud owners of the Ashok and Ashok Dhaba.

Ashok and Ashok are no more with us but their legacy continues. The shop is run by the younger generation. A medium sized dusty frame holds the picture of Ashok and Ashok smiling ear to ear, looking upon the shop still running successfully.

The shop opens at 1 P.M and you’ll always find a crowd hovering for their meat delights.  The Mutton Korma is made only on Wednesday and Saturday, and it finishes off in a matter of half an hour while the Chicken Korma and Biryani are prepared every day.

The korma prepared here would definitely pass off with an A grade in a royal kitchen. Why I am saying this is because 30 different kinds of spices are added to the gravy and the entire thing is prepared with loads of desi ghee. The meat is tender and falls off the bones perfectly and the glistening golden gravy is full of aroma. It is so fragrant that your hands and tummy are provoked to eat it right away. The gravy is served with rotis (chapatti) interwoven with coriander leaves.

This gravy is not your ordinary gravy. It is cooked with minced meat. The process is rather elaborate. A large tin of ghee is melted in a huge pan and then ginger, garlic and onions are added and stirred until golden brown. Next, the 30 secret spices are added to the mix and are left to ooze out their flavour and aroma. Mutton pieces and minced meat are finally added to this enticing mix and left to cook for 20-30 minutes. Later, the perfect amount of water is added and some chopped tomatoes are thrown in and it is further cooked for an hour and a half depending or till the gravy attains a smooth texture. The same procedure is followed to prepare the chicken curry. The biryani served here is very rich as well and is equally delicious. It was a matter of time when the clock struck 2:30 P.M. while we were still devouring the delights and the Ashok and Ashok Meat Dhaba was already out of their famous delicacies.

Price: Rs. 300 for 2

Timings: 1 P.M. – 3 P.M.

Location: 5820/42, Subhash Chowk, Sadar Thana Road, Near Sadar Bazaar, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi.

About the Author:

Delhi Food Walks provides a platform for food enthusiasts to share their culinary journey while keeping the rich and diverse culture of Delhi alive through specially curated food trails and food festivals. This year, Delhi Food Walks is organizing the first-ever Street Food Awards which aims to recognize various street food vendors present in the narrow alleys of Delhi and honour them for the delightful services. The winner will be decided from a pool of nominations across 20 categories and a few special mentions by our esteemed jury of food connoisseurs like Marryam H Reshii, Sourish Bhattarcharya and Rahul Verma. If you want your favourite street food outlets to win, do not forget to vote for them!

Posted on

Hanging Out @ SportsDiner

Keep the child alive is what everyone has always said about growing up. SportsDiner by HangOut is one of those places where you can be unabashedly childish. From Monopoly to Air hockey, it offers you everything; even if you fancy a round of bowling or a virtual reality game. Oh and I am not just looking at the 23 year olds who seek this opportunity to take a break from adulting but even you parents. While you grab a bite or a drink amidst snooker tables, your little ones can easily be mesmerized by the interactive play area on the next floor (the pizza parlour and the hospital areas are cute enough to start playing yourself).

Coming to the food, the chef is doing something brilliant things with the vegetarian fare. It happens so often that our ve getarian friends get sidelined when we go out to have a night of drinks and games. Blindly order the vegetarian Pizza, you will see a play with veggies including broccoli and the cheese. The crust is light and the sauce actually compliments the green. If I didn’t notice the calories on the cheese, I would have declared this a healthy meal.(Yes, its a tennis racket acting as a serving plate in the picture)

Next came the Kung Pao chicken with what we figured was a pickled cabbage that was not kimchi. Delhi is almost infamous for its chin-jabi culture and if your hangout doesn’t serve you good masala chinese, why is it even a hangout. No such situation here. The chicken was as juicy as much as  it was exploding with all the garlic and chilli peppers. The special non veg platter comes with 4 different types of tikkas. This is the part that leaves you with a sense of dissatisfaction. The classic chicken tikka was still cooked well but the fish and malai tikkas had perhaps had too much time in the tandoor and ended up dry while the seekh was bland and chewy.

 

But hey, the best part is the hospitality of the place. The diner has the sweetest staff, who will readily take on any criticism their way and work on it (it’s such a rarity nowadays that I always like to mention it). They are also very keen on making the entire experience better and will keep accommodating all your requests. It’s the one corner in the heart of the poshest areas where you can let loose.

Posted on

Ghewar Trail in Sonepat

Ghewar Trail in Sonepat

By Anubhav Sapra

It started with a query on the Delhi Food Walks Facebook page and Instagram  – “Where do you get the best ghewar in Delhi?”  Most of the respondents answered unanimously Chaina Ram in Fatehpuri chowk as the best ghewar. The second most popular recommendation, however piqued our interest with the answer being Sonepat. After a brief interaction with ghewar lovers on social media listing out all the known places in Sonepat for Ghewar,  I headed on a ghewar trail last Sunday from Delhi to Sonepat. A good friend of mine, Naman helped me in exploring the places in Sonepat.

Ghewar is a traditional monsoon sweet dish, popular in Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh. The basic ingredients are all purpose flour, sugar, milk and ghee. First you will need to make a thin smooth batter using refined flour and milk. Next you slowly pour the batter into a ‘kadhai’ or a wok of boiling ghee or Vanaspati, all the while separating the fried batter to the side of the cooking utensil. Once fried, it is dipped in sugar syrup or it can simply be poured on top and drained with the help of a wire mesh.

 There are different varieties of ghewar-  kesar ghewar ( flavoured with saffron ), milk ghewar ( the batter is made using milk ), malai or mawa ghewar ( a layer of mawa/rabri is added over the top  of the ghewar and garnished with dry fruits ) white ghewar ( simple ghewar – the batter is made with water with no milk in it). The sizes and shapes also vary– some of them are heart shaped while other could be round or squared; simply achieved by using different moulds and the sizes could vary from small to the huge ‘fit for a king’ kind.

Ghewar, Shaant sweets, snoept
Shaant sweets, Sonepat

The Ghewar trail in Sonepat started with Shaant sweets corner. The shop is located inside a lane on Geeta Bhawan chowk. I tried a medium sized Kesar- Mawa Ghewar garnished with raisins, pistachios and chironji. This one was a mouthful of sugar, sugar and sugar. The ‘mithas’ or sweetness was literally dripping out of the ghewar.

Next I moved to the Sonepat bus stand where a number of ghewar shops are lined next to each other. Some of the shops were selling jeans and ghewar at the same place. Such is the popularity of Ghewar in Sonepat. Most of the shops have enormous ghewars there. The rooftops were like ghewar factories producing ghewars by the kilos (probably tonnes). The whole place was working in an assembly line like production- On one corner, a man was pouring the batter of ghewar in a big khadai filled with boiling ghee. The next in line was dipping the ghewar in sugar syrup- ready to be sold to customers. I tried a small bite from the king size ghewar. It was again too sweet to me. The quality and price is less compared to other ghewar shops keeping in mind the moving customer from different district and the shops close proximity to bus stand. We stopped midway at Triloki halwai. Here the barfi is what caught my fancy instead of the ghewar we were really out to taste, but hey Sonepat is a hub for mithai.

R K Sweets, Sonepat
R K Sweets, Sonepat

Next, we went to the one shop recommended by everyone – R K Sweets in Subhash Chowk. The shop started with selling pakodas but have now diversified into Ghewar. Although they still have a pakodas stall outside the main shop but R K sweets has now become synonymous with ghewar in Sonepat. To compare the taste, we sticked to malai ghewar here as well. It tasted heavenly- not too syrupy plus the quality of the batter and the consistency was really good and again the same toppings except chironji.

Sunder Misthan
Sunder Mishthan, Sonepat

We thought that our search for the best Ghewar in Sonipat ended with this but we had picked one more place; Sunder mishtan bhandar in bara bazar. Tucked in the busy lane of Sonipat, the place is known for its quality sweets. At the entrance, one man is seen frying the ghewar, while another is adding the sugar syrup and mawa over it and then finally sprinking a generous helping of dry fruits – mainly chironji, almonds and pistachios. This was the best ghewar I had in Sonepat- one, it was fresh. Two, it was not too sweet, the sugar was completely drained out of it. Three, it was crisp and soft at the same time-that shows that it was fried just perfectly. Four, the quality of mawa was excellent, slightly grainy – adding a nice texture to the ghewar. Five, the almonds, chironji and pistachios were a better quality than the previous shops.

 

After a day of doing what I love best and stuffed to the throat, I returned home happily, finally; carrying loads of Ghewar with the belief that Sonepat should be hailed as a Ghewar district of Haryana.

 

 

Posted on

As *you* like it – Fabelle Chocolates

Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree,Theobrama cacao, means ‘food of the gods’. Throughout history, there have been several accounts of the foreigners in India growing greedy over this one bittersweet thing called ‘chocolate’ (especially the Spaniards). Ask any modern Indian today and you will find someone preferring one variant over the other but no one ever refuses a chocolate and then there are people like me. Food lovers who go to great lengths so that we can understand and put the best into our mouths and more so to be able to tell you where you can find your money’s worth.

ITC’s luxury chocolate boutique ‘Fabelle’ has taken luxury to another level with its couverture chocolates. Now it is offering you a chance to take it to another step. Their new campaign lets you choose exactly what flavours you want in your chocolate. If you like the dark or the milk ones, with caramel or with chillies or maybe you want to surprise your taste buds with a little sea salt, they do it all. And then they let you name you sweet little chocolate cup after yourself.

So we made our two dainty little “As DFW likes it” cups with a milk chocolate base, caramel, some Sri Lankan sea salt, a dark chocolate creme topped with cocoa crumbs and almond slivers. (You really should check out the video on Instagram @delhifoodwalks , https://www.instagram.com/p/BXSYWREDbKg/?taken-by=delhifoodwalks)

 

Personalization of luxury goods is one of the goals, we strive for in our modern lifestyle. What better way to make it sweeter (pun intended) than with a chocolate cup that resonates with you. If nothing else, it is a thrill telling your friends that ITC let you name a chocolate after yourself. We know we have been gloating about that 😉

Posted on

Raksha Bandhan with Fabelle

One of the few things synonymous with Rakhi is a box of chocolates. It’s almost ritualistic to pick up a piece and pop it into your sibling’s mouth or maybe steal one from between their fingers. Now, we have long shifted from the candy like bars to the more delicate couverture chocolate pralines. ITC’s exclusive chocolate boutique “FABELLE” has taken even that one step further. The delicate pralines now hold the spirit of your sibling. Inspired by the 5 elements: Fire, Earth, Water, Wood and Air, you can now customise a box of chocolates that is as fiery as your sister or as free flowing as your brother.

I chose the element “water” for my cool headed sibling. He tends to be salty and intense at the most inopportune moments but is one of the biggest calming influences of my life. So a praline with dark chocolate mousse filled with the Acacia nectar, sprinkled with just a hint of Sri lankan sea salt gave me the perfect sweet treat for him. Picking one out for the more passionate and fiery one was easier with the “fire” praline. The dark chocolate shell is filled with a white chocolate mousse laced with ancho chilli and tangy candied mango.

The best part about the entire thing is that you can pick out your box all from home and if you wish even create a website in your sibling’s name. Keeping no stones unturned in ensuring that this moment is truly memorable; Fabelle has created a special website www.rakhiwithfabelle.com for placing orders and creating the customised website orders.

 

But in order to do so you need to log on before or on the 3rd of August, 2017. They are taking orders to be delivered between  4th to 8th August, 2017.

 

Where:

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Gardenia, #1 Residency Road, Bengaluru;

080 66825270

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Windsor, 25, Golf Course Road, ISRO
Colony, Sankey Road, Bengaluru; 080 61401111

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Maurya, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi;
011 66325360

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Grand Chola, Mount Road, Guindy, Chennai;
044 49065410

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Maratha, Sahar, Mumbai; 022 61841979

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Grand Central, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Road, Parel, Mumbai; 022 67045143

Fabelle at The Chocolate Boutique, ITC Sonar, JBS Haldane Avenue, Kolkata;
033 23004407

 

Posted on

Eating My Way Through Amritsar: Day 3

This article was first published in Huffpost. Link to the blogpost- http://www.huffingtonpost.in/anubhav-sapra/eating-my-way-through-amritsar-day-3_a_23044828/

Eating My Way Through Amritsar: Day 3

Ending on a high note.

By Anubhav Sapra, Founder, Delhi Food Walks

 

Punjabi food, like its culture, is very hard to ignore especially in Amritsar, the golden heart of the land of butter and celebration. The flavours are just like its people, loud and in your face but in a very good way. We went on a food adventure spanning over three days in the land of the gurus and stuffed our faces with the most beautiful, delicious and rich dishes we could find on the streets of Amritsar. Read about day 1 here and day 2 here.

Day 3

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is something we have all been taught. And so we took it literally with some authentic Amritsari kulchas. We started with Kulwant Kulcha. The place is ideal for those who like their kulcha really flaky, crisp and lightly spiced. Then there is All India Famous Kulcha Wala, which has been in business since 1989. The shop is owned by Sucha Singh ji and is managed by his son Ponty Singh. The kulcha dough is rolled into seven layers and then stuffed with aloo and paneer filling and half cooked. When someone places the order, the cook handling the tandoor applies water on one side and sticks it in the tandoor. Like Kulwant’s this kulcha was flaky, crisp and subtly spiced. They also have another outlet called Kulchaland which has a more restaurant-like setup. But for me, Ashok Kulche Wala rules the Amritsari Kulcha chart with perfect spicing putting its offerings a cut above the rest (I’ve already described it in some detail here). One can walk in to his open kitchen and see the steps involved in making a perfect kulcha. This is what I liked best about Amritsar. The people here are open hearted and there are no secrets—one can easily walk in to any restaurant’s kitchen. Amritsaris love feeding people and the owners themselves are involved in cooking.

The people here are open hearted and there are no secrets—one can easily walk in to any restaurant’s kitchen.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Next up was Surjit Food Plaza at Nehru Shopping Complex, Lawrence Road. An interesting thing about Amritsar’s food joints is that though some look quite modern and fancy, the food they serve is authentic and traditional. From the outside, Surjit looks like the kind of place I can’t usually afford, but the food has not lost its Amritsari soul. I asked for tawa chicken pulao, which I could see being prepped from behind a big glass wall by none other than the owner, Amarjit Singh. He mixed ghee as well as butter into the chicken and then added boiled rice into the mixture. The tawa chicken pulao is garnished with ginger and coriander. The flavourful rice balances the soft pieces of chicken.They have served their food to who’s who of India. They even have a picture album which one can ask for to see the pictures of celebrities dining at the restaurant. But what caught my attention was the modest beginnings of the restaurant. Starting from a small khopcha, it is full-fledged restaurant today with modern facilities.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

A foodie friend, Girish, sends me screenshots of food joints on WhatsApp all the time, often giving me valuable leads. While I was in Amritsar, he sent a screenshot of Giani Tea Stall, established in 1955. The place is famous for its breakfast dishes, especially kachoris, but since I couldn’t make it in time for a morning meal I had to satisfy myself with an omelette and special spiced tea. The tea maker, Ajay, who hails from Pathankot has been working at Giani’s for 15 years. I tried the spiced tea with saffron, cardamom and almonds (₹35 per cup). Next time, when I visit I will make it a point to start my day with his kachoris.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

On the recommendation of another recommendation, we went to Pal Dhaba near Hathi Gate for lunch. We tried magaz, kharode and mutton tikka. The dishes were similar to what we had at Prakash (see here) but super delicious. The kharode, in particular, amazed me. Unlike the soupy Delhi variety, it was thick and unctuous. The pieces of goat feet are boiled in water and then added to a stock-based gravy later. It’s delicious with tandoori rotis. On the table next to us, a group of people from Delhi were having mutton tikka with buttery white sesame naan. I couldn’t resist ordering the same dish. The mutton tikka is again cooked in spices and served in thick gravy. The naan is so delicious that it can be savoured alone without any sauce or curry.

ANUBHAV SAPRA
ANUBHAV SAPRA

This was exactly what we were exactly waiting for—a high note with which to end our amazing food journey. Needless to say we’ll be going back for more.

10 Cooking Tips For Indian Bachelors By Saransh Goila
Posted on

The All New Napoli Pizza at Fat Lulu’s

The All New Napoli Pizza at Fat Lulu’s

By Aushi Mathur

Ever since Fat Lulu’s opened up in Delhi and Gurgaon, it has become a crowd favourite. After winning over hearts of Delhi-ites with their gourmet wood-fired oven pizzas, Fat Lulu’s is ready to take over once again with the introduction of Neapolitan style pizzas.

A style of pizza that originated from Naples, Italy, Neapolitan pizza is made with the freshest ingredients available. A basic dough, raw tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and olive oil with no other fancy ingredients can make a scrumptious Napoli pizza. The difference lies in the abundance of sauce as compared to cheese leaving the middle of the base soggy that gives a melt in mouth feel.

Napoli Pizza at Fat Lulu’s
Napoli Pizza at Fat Lulu’s

Fat Lulu’s has come up with a balances vegetarian – non vegetarian menu with authentic tasting Napoli pizzas. We tried the Sausage Fest pizza which was loaded with meat. Three types of sausages along with mushrooms covered the top of the pizza along with parmesan cheese as an addition to the basic tomato and mozzarella. The sauce and the dough felt so fresh that the combined taste complimented the meaty flavour of the sausages really well.

Staying true to the Neapolitan base style, the pizzas served at Fat Lulu’s also have a soggy middle which will definitely delight your taste buds.

The meal was completed with some unparalleled beverages. We tried the Salted Caramel Frappe and the Caribbean Coconut, both of which were wonderfully delectable. We also got to try the light and appetising orange and fennel salad with their herb oils. The visit finished with a melt-in-mouth chocolaty nougat cake that stole the show for us.

Overall, we would definitely like to recommend trying their all new Napoli Pizzas to all those pizza lovers looking for a change in the regular deep dish or thin crust pizzas. Give them a try and let us know which one is your favourite!

Posted on

Happyness is Ice Cream. #flavoursoftheseason

I have always been told that you cannot buy happiness and well, being the foodie I am, I always tell them that I can buy Ice Cream and that is pretty much the same thing. There is no other comfort food like ice cream, especially when it comes to Baskin Robbins and their penchant for trying out the wackiest flavours, that somehow always work.

As one of the Happyness Ambassadors this month, Baskin Robbins presented us with their five experiments for the month and asked us to pick a favourite. Now, a foodie is a foodie because of our indecisiveness when it comes to picking a favourite.

But the weather, I believe gave us an inspiration and we decided on the flavour that could complement this “surprise it’s hot, surprise it’s rain” monsoon. I will give you a hint. The flavour evokes the memory of sitting on the “charpai” (a traditional woven bed) and eating freshly plucked fruit with a spicy condiment. Baskin and Robbins has made the traditional after school fruit snack of Guava and Red Chilli Powder into an ice cream !

Surprised? So were we. But after such a long time we found an ice cream that was not just a mix of sugar and fruity elements. This ice cream is perfect for people who believe that ice cream can be more than just a sweet treat. In fact you can actually find hints of the smoky chilli flavour in the aftertaste mixed with the ice creamy consistency of the guava flavour. The reason we love B&K ice creams is because they are unafraid to test the limits of our palate and I do believe that our favourite “Spicy Guava” is the perfect example of how they deliver on the taste  every time even when your head is mumbling something on the lines of ‘ mad geniuses’.

Posted on

From Kulchas to Chaamps To Aam Papad: Eating My Way Through Amritsar

THE BLOG

From Kulchas to Chaamps To Aam Papad: Eating My Way Through Amritsar

Day 2.

This article was first published in Huffpost. Here is the link – https://tinyurl.com/y9c9cgx5

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Punjabi food, like its culture, is very hard to ignore especially in Amritsar, the golden heart of the land of butter and celebration. The flavours are just like its people, loud and in your face but in a very good way. We went on a food adventure spanning over three days in the land of the gurus and stuffed our faces with the most beautiful, delicious and rich dishes we could find on the streets of Amritsar. Read about day 1 here.

Day 2

On the second day of our food expedition, we woke up to the aroma of deep fried imarti. It was the day of Baisakhi, which marks the start of the Sikh New Year along with the formation of the Khalsa Panth. And sweets are a hallmark of the celebration.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Pooris for breakfast

Breakfast meant sampling wares from two Amritsar mainstays, starting with Kanhaiya Lal on Lawrence Road, where we sampled a fried poori made of maida and atta (in a 70:30 proportion) stuffed with a little dal pitthi. The poori is served with sweet and tangy aloo lounji, chane ki sabzi, another savoury aloo sabzi and carrot pickles. I also tried another interesting dish called satpura—a puffed pastry (with seven layers) filled with dal ki pitthi, and served with lounji and chane. Incidentally, a similar dish called the Japani samosa is available in Old Delhi’s Manohar Dhaba. The difference is that this “samosa” is filled with mashed potatoes and served with chane and lauki achaar.

Amritsar changed my conception of the ‘nutri kulcha’ and showed me what the Delhi version was missing.

We then moved on to Kanha Sweets that serves pooris that are quite similar to Kanhaiya Lal’s—the only thing missing is the savoury aloo sabzi. Kanha Sweets also sell aam pickle, stuffed matthi and besan matthi (this last is a boon for those with a gluten allergy).

A note on aam papad

Among the most enticing of all the places I visited was Lubhaya Ram, famous for aam papad. They have two outlets—the first one is a proper shop with jars and packed boxes of aam papad and the other one is a cart, right next to the DAV girls’ college.

The owner of the shop, a big-time foodie has all the information on the best eating joints in Amritsar. The way he makes the aam papad platter is a sight to see—small pieces of all the different varieties of aam papad and anar goli are placed on a plate and then given a squeeze of lemon. Next comes a sprinkling of a 12-spice mix, white salt and black salt. The taste is simply out of the world—sweet and tangy at the same time. You can see why Amritsar needs this tasty digestive bit in a corner after you have sampled the heavy deliciousness of Kanhaiya Lal.

The breadbasket of India

Amritsar is sometimes called the Breadbasket of India. I tried kulcha at three places in the city—Ashok Kulche Wala at Ranjit Avenue, All India Famous Kulcha Wala at Chungi, and Kulwant Kulcha Wala near Golden Temple.

But first let me explain how an Amritsari kulcha is unique.

The first rule is that each layer of the dough is spread with ghee. The second is that the kulcha is always stuffed with spices ranging from pomegranate seeds to raw coriander seeds. The layered dough is filled with a mixture of aloo or paneer, or anything else and then put in the tandoor, where it gets crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. A generous helping of butter is applied over the kulchas, which are devoured with chana, spring onion and amchur chutney. The chutney is a mix of tamarind, green mangoes, spring onion and spices. Out of the three kulcha places.

The uniqueness of the chicken at Beera is in the softness rather than the crispiness that’s sought after elsewhere in north India.

I found Ashok’s to be the best kulcha in terms of authenticity and taste.

At Ashok, for the mix kulcha, mashed potatoes are combined with cauliflower mix, paneer mix, coriander seeds, fenugreek leaves, black pepper and other spices. Then are added yogurt, ghee, red chilies and salt. This combination is stuffed in the kulcha, which is placed in the oven to cook. Once it emerges, it is slathered with butter and is ready to be savoured.

At All India Famous Kulcha, the pre-made mixture is simply stuffed in the dough and cooked in the tandoor. While all India and Kulwant served crisper kulchas, Ashok’s spices elevated the dish. Ashok has been in business for 36 years. The shop is open from 9 am to 2:30 pm.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Next on our agenda was the bija kulcha (the word bija in Punjabi means wet). Iqbal our food guide in the city took us to a place called Pappi di Hatti. The yeast kulchas (bo kulchas) are dipped in chickpeas topped with chopped onion, juliennes of ginger, green chutney, and amla pickles. The kulcha soaks the gravy of chickpeas and becomes soft and flavourful. The wooden containers in which the chickpeas are kept are 15 years old.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Being a Delhiite, I have tasted cuisines from all over India in this multicultural city. Thus, I’d already sampled a “nutri kulcha” at Shalimar Bagh in Delhi when I decided to see how Amritsar’s version compared. Amritsar changed my conception of the dish and showed me what the Delhi version was missing. In Delhi, it was a normal kulcha with butter and soya granules mixed with spices. Here in Amritsar, the nutri was tawa-fried with capsicum and onions in spinach gravy. A fried piece of paneer was crushed over the nutri and the entire concoction was served with butter. It tasted heavenly. I had nutri also with bhaturas, a unique and delish combination.

Desi hot dog

Having tried the famed chaat in Varanasi, Lucknow and Delhi, I was not that excited to try the chaat in Amritsar. However, Brijwasi is everyone’s favourite go-to go chaat place. The family that migrated from Mathura still serves chaat and other dishes without onion and garlic. They have an interesting desi-style hot dog—the footlong bun is fried in vanaspati and then smeared with methi chutney or saunth on one side and green chutney on the other. A single piece of crushed tikki makes the filling. Interestingly at Brijwasi, they don’t add sweet or green chutney on the papri or bhalle unless expressly asked to do so.

ANUBHAV SAPRA

Soul food

Since I was there on the day of Baisakhi, the harvest festival of Punjab, even the long queues at the gates of the Golden Temple couldn’t deter me from seeking the blessings for an auspicious year.

The roti-making machine is said to make 6000-9000 rotis in an hour. Men and women put ghee over the rotis to keep them soft.

Another big draw is the langar, an important part of Sikh tradition, where anyone can walk in and eat the simple and soulful food. It is a community kitchen where the followers sit in a row and are fed by volunteers who come in to do “seva”. As you enter, on the left hand side is the roti-making machine which they say makes 6000-9000 rotis in an hour. Men and women put ghee over the rotis to keep them soft. On the right hand side is the dishwashing unit—volunteers washing the soiled plates and spoons. At the rear is the main cooking area, where the food is cooked. I have never seen such a big cauldron in my life. There is no chef—the food is cooked by volunteers and sewadars. And what comes out is delicious dal that one can taste nowhere else. On special occasions, kheer and halwa is made for the followers. This institution is responsible for feeding hundred of homeless people in the city.

Chaamps and chicken

Now, one of the food explorers in our group was a vegetarian. So, before moving to the popular Beera Chicken, we stopped at Hathi Gate at Lovely Chaamp. The chaamps, made up of maida and soya are given different shapes, marinated in different spices and then grilled over charcoal. The spices are similar to those that are used in meat preparation. The most interesting out of all the soya champs was the completely veg fish champ—a fish-shaped patty made of soya and spices that are used in making Amritsari champ. (In Delhi, we have our own versions for vegetarians—deep-fried kurkure champs and Afghani ones with white creamy sauce). I loved the way creativity is inculcated in food. The Amritsari folks do not compromise on the taste and meaty texture even in vegetarian food.

Next up was Beera Chicken on Majeetha Road, where several customers ordered their food from inside their car and ate there too—Delhi-style! The shop has a sitting section too, though. Balbir, the owner, manages the restaurant, while his son takes care of the grill counter.

The chicken is first marinated in secret spices, half cooked and finally grilled straight over a griddle. One can also ask for tandoori chicken—the same chicken is cooked in a clay tandoor.

The uniqueness of the chicken is in the softness rather than the crispiness that’s sought after elsewhere in north India. It tasted heavenly. The other recommended dish at Beera is keema naan. Minced mutton is stuffed in the dough and cooked inside the tandoor. Loads of delicious butter is spread over it. While I am usually a little more careful about my butter consumption, in Punjab you gotta do as the Punjabis do. The naan is served with chutney, onions and a mutton curry that is so delicious that I slurped it straight from the bowl.

We ended our second day with Prakash which was a big disappointment. I tried magaj (brain curry), chaamp and mutton tikka. Apart from the champ (minced meat deep-fried in ghee) the other two dishes were nothing to write home about. When we visited the shop construction for a bar section was in full swing. Maybe it was just a bad day for them or maybe they have moved away from their roots—who knows?

Unable to eat a morsel more, we ended the night with digestive tablets, hoping for a grand day three to end our food expedition on a high note.

Posted on

Mister Chai

 Mister Chai

By Anubhav Sapra

While you have been scrolling through your instagram feed this monsoon, I am sure the photos of Pakoda, samosa, bun maska and chai have been popping up as the rains envelope India. It does  make, one yearn for some spicy and warm food. My own all time favourite monsoon snack has been roasted corn or bhutta with lemon and masala.

With snacks, a cup of regular local milk chai or cutting chai with different spice flavours- elaichi, cinnamon or a simple masala chai makes the small difference between a chai on a regular day and the one on a rainy day. The street side tea served in a traditional glass or kulhad with steam coming out of it is the only thing that has been able to encompass the wet and cozy feeling you yearn for .

The monsoon menu at Mister Chai, the tea restaurant at Shangrila’s Eros hotel is trying to take this feeling from the street side and serve it to you while you look out at the damp roads from your own luxurious cocoon.The menu is beautifully curated by Chef Neeraj Tyagi keeping intact the local flavours but like always with a twist.

Our monsoon journey began with a cutting chai served in a traditional chai ki tapri. The rusks in a small tin accompanied the tea. The idea of dipping the rusks into the tea to soak the flavours is a classic street thing across India.

Next, I tried the spicy keema and potato pakodas served with sweet and tangy chutney. The usual bread pakoda is stuffed with mashed potatoes and keema. The assorted pakoda platter served on a toy cart had aloo, paneer, palak and mirchi pakodas. The best part of it all was that it was not oily. The chef revealed that the pakodas are fried twice so that it doesn’t absorb much oil.

The highlight of the monsoon menu was the Kulcha. The traditional amristari aloo kulchas , served on a wooden taco stand were filled with pulled jackfruit and goat’s cheese. I am sure it will taste delicious with pulled pork as well. The texture of jackfruit added a meaty texture and compliments with the softness of aloo kulchas. Really loved the combination!

Some of the other dishes on the monsoon menu are bhutta(steamed and char grilled served with Cajun spice, herb butter and lime ) Akuri Toast (Parsi scrambled egg), and the popular delhi’s  special street food – Ram ladoo.

The monsoon menu is available every day at Mister Chai from 11 am to 9 pm till 31st August.

Address: Lobby Level, Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi, 19 Ashoka Road, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001