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Counter Walon ki Dukaan

Counter Walon ki Dukaan

By Anubhav Sapra

WP_20150121_14_39_14_ProI read an inspiring story in today’s newspaper about a 13 year-old, Shubham, who has recently launched a company to develop low cost machines to print Braille. He is Silicon Valley’s youngest entrepreneur. Coincidentally, I met another 10 year old, Sameer, in Nizamuddin today afternoon with a degh, selling biryani, chicken korma and kheeri. For the first few minutes, I just saw him diligently taking out biryani from the degh, adding red chutney to it and serving it to hungry souls. Every time, he removed the lid from the degh of the biryani, the aroma of the spices and kewra straightaway entered my nostrils. My taste buds could not resist for long and I asked Sameer for a plate of biryani. I sprinkled the masalas lying in a small plate over the biryani, mixed the red hot garlic chutney and had a small spoon of it. The biryani was delightful. I had my second spoon and started the conversation with him.

WP_20150121_14_11_04_ProThere were two deghs lying next to each other. In one of them was chicken korma and the other contained kheeri. The dish kheeri is made from small pieces of a buff’s udder, and was something I heard for the first time. The curry is changed on a rotational basis everyday and ranges from achari chicken, aloo keema, aloo gosht, to matar keema. On Wednesday nights, they make special paaya, and ande ka kofta. On Friday afternoon, biryani is served with haleem. A plate of biryani costs Rs. 50. Most of the curries are in the range of Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 per plate. Sameer briefed me on everything about the menu. He was not very confident about the cooking, though. He was there to take care of the shop while his father was away for some work. I then asked him to introduce me to any elder person of his family.

After a brief interval, his uncle Imran came and shared the journey of his shop from a small cart to counter wali dukaan. Seven years back, Sameer’s father, Shakir Alam and his brother Imran started selling biryani on a small cart outside the Markaz in Nizamuddin. The inhabitants of Nizamuddin appreciated his biryani so much that they set up the small counter and table outside his home, near Qureshi Masjid, Karim Wali Gali. The shop became famous as Counter Walon ki Dukaan. Alam’s wife, Sitara ji cooks these mouth savouring delicacies at home, not once, but twice in a day. Alam sells these dishes during the afternoons (1 p.m to 4 p.m) and evenings (7 p.m. – 11 p.m.). Their mobile numbers are 7503626266 and 9555000489.

Imran informed me that Sameer got admission in another school, the session will start next month in February. Indeed, he is an entrepreneur in the making, a few years down the line, he might open up a restaurant and takes the Counter Wali Dukaan to another new level altogether. Nobody knows!

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Bhaijaan Kebabs

Bhaijaan Kebabs

By Anubhav Sapra

Last Sunday, Delhi Food Walks conducted its first community food walk of 2015 – the Kebab and Biryani Trail in Old Delhi. The food walk started with galouti kebabs and ended with the famous sutli kebabs of Bazar Matia Mahal. The highlight of the kebab trail was Bhaijaan Kebabs. The name of the shop itself will arouse the curiosity of anyone visiting the shop. When I first visited the shop, I was expecting a well-built, husky fan of the Bollywood star Salman Khan. However, I met the rather gracious owner, Mohd. Shamim, who started selling kebabs three years back just out of his passion and love for kebabs. The shop is run by his son, Ubaid, and his cousins, Javed and Ameen.

WP_20150110_18_43_17_ProLet me tell you the location and directions to reach his shop. Keep walking straight in Bazar Matia Mahal until you reach Chitli Qabar Chowk, then take a right turn from there, and ask anyone the directions to the famous Flora Bakery. Bhaijaan Kebabs are right opposite Flora Bakery. The complete address is shop no. 2202, Bazar Chitli Qabar, Opp. Flora Bakery, Delhi-6. The shop is closed on Tuesdays. You can contact Bhaijaan Kebabs on the following numbers – 9811020272, 9899145777.

The shop is named Bhaijaan (literally, brother) Kebabs because the age difference among the siblings in Mohd. Shamim’s family was not much and everyone in the family started calling him “bhaijaan”. Bhaijaan, originally a contractor for painting work, used to invite his family and friends for daawat back at home. His kebabs were so delectable that the guests who tasted his kebabs in dawaats convinced him to take his passion of cooking to the next level and open a kebab shop. He opened a small shop selling chicken shami kebabs in a narrow alley in Chitli Qabar.

WP_20150110_18_31_22_ProAn interesting part of the most of food joints in Old Delhi is that they specialize in a particular dish and pass the recipes from one generation to the next without tweaking the recipes. Keeping alive the Old Delhi tradition, Bhaijaan Kebabs sells only one kind of kebabs – shami kebabs. The keema of shami kebabs are made with chane ki daal, dried red chillies, green chillies, and Bhaijaan’s secret spices. A piece of kebab costs Rs. 10 and a kg of keema for shami kebabs is Rs. 200. The kebabs are half fried and kept in a glass box. On order, the shami kebabs are deep fried, chaat masala is sprinkled over it, and is served with green chutney and onion in a dona. The kebabs are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The uniqueness of his kebabs are the fibres which one can experience in the first bite. The taste of the kebabs was delicious, and the spices and whole red chillies added to the interesting mix of flavours.

The kebab lovers moved in to another lane of Chitli Qabar for sutli kebabs after relishing the taste of Bhaijaan’s fibrous shami kebabs.

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Al Nawaz- Mummy ke kitchen se Meridian tak

Al Nawaz

By Anubhav Sapra

At the age when most youngsters are looking for a safe and cushy job with a handsome salary, there are very few who are passionate enough to take the bold step to realize their dreams. Last week, I met two young, passionate entrepreneurs – Apaksh Gupta of Smugglers restaurant in Hudson Lane and Chef Shahnawaz of Al Nawaz Restaurant in Abu Fazl Lane, Zakir Nagar.

unnamedIn this blog, I would like to cover the story of a man who started his journey, as per his words, from “mummy ke kitchen se Meridian aur Meridian se Al Nawaz tak”. Chef Shahnawaz started his career from Meridian Hotel and left the job in 2010 after getting an opportunity in Melbourne as an Executive Chef. However, due to visa issues, he could not make it to Melbourne kitchen. He was recommended by the owners of Swagat to work in a restaurant in Toronto as the Master Chef. But his mother asked him to work in India and he declined the offer. Then he briefly worked with the Gujrals of Moti Mahal in Chandigarh.

With a strong conviction about his art of cooking, he started his second innings with a small degh of 1 kg biryani at Khalilullah Masjid in Zakir Nagar. Our host for the Lucknow food tour, Saira Mujataba, a self confessed biryani freak was regular visitor to Nawaz’s biryani shop in her student days. Believing in luck, Nawaz used to buy basmati rice from a particular shop in Maharani Bagh every time to cook his special biryani. People got addicted to his biryani slowly and in such large numbers that the biryani degh became too small to cook biryani for everyone. He purchased a degh from Jama Masjid but that became small too and finally he ordered a special biryani degh from Moradabad. He graciously admits that, he could not afford nine hundred rupees to buy an iron stand used to take out biryani from the degh and had to compromise with a self made stone stand, which he picked up from the street side.

Later he moved to Okhla main road, and opened a new restaurant by the name of Al Nawaz. He claimed to introduce Anmol Chicken, chicken with loads of cream and butter. I went there with another foodie friend last year and found it simply delectable. Soon, his Okhla shop also became quite small and in May 2013, he shifted to the current address in Abu Fazl Enclave, next to Jamia Police station.

20141102_191200I had Nawaz’s special kalmi kebab( 4pcs for Rs 270), juicy and succulent leg pieces, mutton burra( 4 pcs for Rs 270), roasted perfectly, big but soft pieces of fish tikka( 5 pcs for Rs 300) and mutton nahari(half plate for Rs 360). But I liked his Chicken biryani(Rs 250) the most which is served with red spicy chutney. I was told that, many people cook biryani in their homes and visit Al Nawaz especially for the chutney, which works as a salan for the biryani. His biryani has a mix of flavor of Hyderabadi, Awadhi and Kolkata style. I believe this is the reason that his biryani suits everyone’s palate.

I am waiting for the day when Jamia Metro Station will finally start functioning and I can frequently visit Al Nawaz for his Biryani.

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair
By Saira Mujtaba
A cool breeze with the moon radiantly shining behind the curtain of clouds set the right mood to treat the tastebuds with a sumptuous dinner. So, the natural choice was to head towards the ongoing Awadhi Food Festival at Courtyard Marriott in Sushant Lok, Gurgaon. The plush interiors failed to grab my attention because there was nothing on my mind but- FOOD!!
I was cordially greeted by the staff who were dressed in gold and silver anarkalis (which was more mughlai than the Awadhi angarkhas) but nontheless the warm hospitality made up for that. The decor  was colourful and splendid with multi-coloured embroidered umbrellas and punkahs hanging from the ceiling. The aroma was overwhelming and my mouth was already salivating with each breath but patiently waiting for Chef Amit de rigeur. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait much and Chef Amit with his smiling face was right there.
I preferred to take a tour of the buffet and then later decide on what would I choose to have on my platter. But first Chef Amit made a point that the ongoing festival would serve around 100 different dishes spread across 12 days till October 15th! Whoa!! That was indeed impressive. The hors d’ouevre for that night’s Awadhi dastarkhwan had something for both vegetarians as well as non-veg lovers. Harey Matar ki Tikki was a pleasant aberration from the usual aaloo cutlets, while Reshami Kebabs were our very own Shami Kebabs with a fancy name and there were also Kali Mirch ke chote Aaloo and Chicken Shikampori. There were also two kinds of soups namely, Kaddu ka Shorba and Macchi Tamatar Shorba. Chef Amit wasted no time  in cruising us through the main course which had some delightful delicacies. Many known to me already but some that I chanced upon for the very first time. There was Keema Kaleji ka, Nargisi Kofte, Subz Anjeer ke Kofte, Chicken Kali Mirch, Laung Bahaar ki Machchli, Nahari and of course, the Dumpukht Biryani along with its vegetarian variant.
“I have learned the nitty-gritties of Awadhi cuisine from my guru Shri Imtiaz Qureshi Saab. Obviously I have kept in mind that people have become very health conscious these days and therefore I haven’t added desi ghee in abundance but yes, the Awadhi flavours are intact,” quips Chef Amit Dash.
Murgh Galawat kebab.With my mouth already drooling, I couldn’t wait an iota of a second to dig into the Awadhi dastarkhwan. The appetizers  on my platter were Harey Matar ki Tikki, Chicken Shikampori, Reshami Kebab and Kali Mirch ke Chote Aaloo. I chose to start with the veg snacks as being a die-hard fan of non-veg, I wanted the taste of the kebabs to linger on. Kali Mirch ke Chote Aaloo were appropriately cooked with the skin intact. You could either bite into it or just pop the entire aaloo at one go. I chose the latter so that the black pepper and the mild spices came as a whole along with the taste of potato. The Harey Matar Ki Tikki surprisingly wowed me. The green peas were smoothly mashed into a patty that were crispy on the outside and were fried exactly how a tikki should ideally be- golden brown on the outside that enters the palette of your mouth with a crunch. Chicken Shikampori was the usual chicken seekh kebab. The spices were mild but coupled with the green chutney, it did indeed makes you yearn for another piece. However, the Reshami Kebab failed to impress me. The minced meat wasn’t juicy and I had to replace the first kebab which was overcooked on one side. The second that came was undercooked and broke while taking onto my plate. I had to go back to Harey Matar Ki Tikki so that its flavourful taste lingered for a while.
Moving on to the next course, I chose Subz Anjeer ke Kofte, Chicken Kali Mirch and Nargisi Kofte. I had never heard nor had Anjeer ke kofte on an Awadhi Dastarkhwan. But the mild spices and the subtle sweetness of Anjeer (figs) with its grainy texture indeed was a delight for a vegetarian food lover. Chicken Kali Mirch too had a mild gravy but the chicken was soft and tender. With every bite the strong aroma of black pepper engulfed the senses and there was a subtle taste of the dry fruit paste that added the Awadhi royalty to the food. However, the queen of the platter title would go to Nargisi Kofte. The minced meat had absorbed the garam masala and covering the boiled egg, it indeed enamoured the senses. The minced meat was succulent, just how I prefer my koftas (I simply abhor dry koftas) and the cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices blended exotically in the gravy as well as the minced meat. I wanted to have more of it, but also had to save room for the ultimate Awadhi Biryani which Chef Amit had prepared in the typical Awadhi style in which the rice and the gravy with the meat is alternately placed in layers and then kept on ‘dum’, hence called Dumpukht.

Dum Biryani

For me the biryani was a litmus test of Awadhi cuisine and I was immensely gratified to find the flavours intact and the chicken and the rice were not broken. The ‘dum’ style of cooking allows the rice to absorb the juices of the meat and the spices so that with every bite, one feels the aroma and flavour of spices, unlike other variants in which one only gets the flavour of the biryani on eating the meat while the rice remains untouched by it. But Chef Amit had indeed done a great job in bringing out the authentic taste from the kitchens of Awadh. The Biryani tempted me to have another helping with my hand but again my urban dining ettiquette held me back.
Thande Gulaab ki KheerI was full to the brim but the tempting Thande Gulab Ki Kheer and Chef’s special, Nizam Ki Nazaakat was eagerly awaited to satiate my sweet tooth. The Kheer had fresh desi gulab petals and what I loved the most was unlike the usual gulab kheer. The petals were shredded and were not overpowering the taste of the kheer (which happens when whole rose petals are added). The consistency was apt, neither too thick like a pudding nor very watery. Without much ado, I moved on to the Chef’s special- Nizam Ki Nazaakat. I must admit, I was enamoured with the very first bite. The liquified rabri worked amazingly well with the mini gulab jamuns and boondis that floated lazingly. It had a silky touch to it and the gulab jamuns in every bite left me yearning for more. Though I believe that a dash of almond flakes would have brought it a level higher, but of course, not everyone is as reckless about one’s health as I when it comes to food! And Chef Amit rightly knows that.
So all you foodies out there, make sure to mark a day on your calendar to visit the Awadhi Food Festival at Courtyard Marriott to indulge yourself in Royalty!
Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Kebab Gali

August 30, 2014

Kebab Gali

By Anubhav Sapra

 

Of late, I have been trying to experience and understand the journey of kebabs in India. And I was quite fortunate to receive a call from Kebab Gali, a small restaurant located in Yusuf Sarai, to try out different varieties of kebabs. The name Kebab Gali raised my curiosity and expectations, as it resembles the name of a by-lane in Jama Masjid, Gali Kebabian.

The restaurant is owned by Deepak, who also owns an electronic goods shop in Lajpat Rai Market. His passion for kebabs made him open Kebab Gali, 1st Floor, No.12, Yusuf Sarai Community Centre, next to Green Park Metro Station, Yusuf Sarai, New Delhi, Delhi-110049. You can contact him on 011-41629911.

10570462_710083155742235_3161271911800089883_nI started with galauti kebabs priced at Rs 195 , one of the softest kebabs that literally melt in the mouth. The galauti and the similarly priced kakori kebabs are served with warqi parantha. Other kebabs which I had at Kebab Gali were dohra kebab (Rs. 195), a combination of chicken and mutton seekh kebab, and kalmi kebab (Rs. 195) which were chicken drumsticks cooked in a tandoor, chicken gilafi kebab (Rs. 185), minced mutton kebabs in a crisp coating of capsicum, and lastly, tomato, onion and chicken malai kebab. The kebabs I liked the most were chicken malai, galauti, kakori and gilafi kebabs.

20140825_191121Kebab Gali also offers Awadhi style dum biryanis – Awadhi chicken biryani, Awadhi mutton biryani, Awadhi anda dum biryani, and Awadhi vegetarian biryani. Biryani is served with salan and raita. Dum biryani is cooked with layers of marinated chicken and rice, sealed off in a utensil with dough, on low heat so that the aroma of spices and flavors remain intact. Kebab Gali offers “Biryani Party Packs” starting from 4 pieces at Rs. 385 to 110 pieces at Rs. 8800.

Kebab Gali also has interesting curries to offer – chicken rara and mutton rara, dhaba meat curry, malabari chicken, mutton nahari and lal maas. I tried each one of them, but they failed to impress me.

Although the name of the restaurant is Kebab Gali, I am surely going to visit again for the Awadhi chicken and mutton dum biryani.

 

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Nizamuddin Food Walk

 

 

Nizamuddin Food Walk

By Anubhav Sapra

Delhi Food Walks organized a food walk in collaboration with Sair-e-Nizamuddin, a Self Help Group formed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Historically known as village Ghiyaspur after the name of the then Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban, this place was later named Hazrat Nizamuddin after the arrival of Sufi Saint HazratNizamuddin. The community represents a range of interesting cultures, traditions and values which are deeply rooted in its history. From the food practices to the religions and social norms that are followed, everything reflects the history of the community and its people.

The walk started with a visit to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin, the fourth greatest Sufi saint of Chishtiya order. The dargah is one of the most visited shrines of India and attracts thousands of followers of all religions and cultures.

Kit Care Kebab Corner: (Situated near MCD School)The owner, Ameer Hasan, was inspired by his father who was a chef in the Italian Embassy. Initially, he started with Chicken Soup, Mughlai Dishes, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Changezi, Paneer Tikka and ShahiPaneer. As time went by, new items were added to the list to cater to the needs of the public. Chicken Fry, SeekhKebab/Rolls and Roasted Chicken are a few of the new additions. The owner is planning to open a branch in Connaught Place.

Muradabadi Biryani: (Situated near Baoli gate of DargahHazratNizamuddin)The owner, MohammedMajid, started this restaurant in the year 2000. A resident of Moradabad, Western U.P, Majid got inspired by his father who was a well-known chef of Biryani in Moradabad.  The fame that is father garnered motivated him to start a restaurant here in Delhi. He specialises in both chicken and beef biryani.

Mann PasandNahari or MeekuNahari: (Situated on Ghalib road opposite LalMahal) This place was started in 1990. Mr. Meekuwas a Delhite and he started the restaurant with Beef Nahari and NaliNahari. After the demise of Mr. Meeku, it was renamed ManpasandNahari. Today, Mohd. Akbar is the owner of the restaurant and specialises in the same dishes. Chefs in this restaurant have served the Saudi Foreign Ministry for 12 years.

Hussaini Hotel: (Situated next to the Mann PasandNahari shop)The owner, Mohd. Hussain, started this restaurant in 1957. He came from Meerut, a town in Western UP. Today, his son MohdYameen runs the restaurant. They specialise in dishes such as Paya, Daal, Kofta, Chaanp and Qorma. They are the pioneersof Sheermal in the Basti. Also, every Thursday and Sunday they cook a special Biryani for their customers.

Ghalib Kebab Corner: (Situated next to Hussaini Hotel on Ghalib road)The owner, Mohd. Hanif Qureshi started this restaurant in 1971. He was inspired by his family members who were famous chefs in Old Delhi. He invented a type of Kebab which he named after the famous poet ‘Ghalib’. He has recently introduced other dishes such as Qorma, Mutton and Chicken Seekh Kebab, Paneer Tikka etc.

Al-Rafiqu Restaurant: (Situated next to Ghalib Kebab Corner on Ghalib road)The owner Mohd. Rafique Qureshi started this restaurant in 1974. His family has been in the restaurant business for a long time. He specialises in Achari Chicken in the morning hours, Malai Tikka, Chicken Roasted/Tandoori, Fish Tikka and Mutton Qorma. Mr. Rafique is planning to turn his restaurant into a family restaurant in order to cater to larger groups of people.

Al-Quresh Hotel: (Situated on theMarkazi Market or Attar Street)Mohd. Iliyas Qureshi started this restaurant in 2002. Al-Quresh specialises in Chicken Masala, Handi Chicken, Chicken Qorma Boneless, Chicken Haryali Tikka, Chicken Reshmi Kebab, ChikenQalami Kebab.

Hussain Sweet Corner: (Situated opposite Markaz near HamdardDawakhana)The owner Hussain Ahmed started his confectionary shop in 1971. He learnt the process of baking confectionary from his uncle and when time came, chose it as his profession. He began with GajarKaHalwa, Imarti and GulabJamunall of which continue to be in demand till date.

Shams-ud-Din Paan Corner: (Situated next to Hussain Sweet corner)Mohd. Shams-ud-Din started this betel leaf shop in 1949. He came from Amroah district in Western UP. This was his ancestral business, which he has successfully carried on till date. His son, Shahab and Subair run the shop at present. They specialise in various Paans such as Meetha Special, Tobacco Special, Qimam Special and Sada Special.

We ended the walk on a sweet note with their Meetha Special! We thank Md. Asif and Md. Aamir of Aga Khan Trust for Culture for helping us organize a food walk in Nizamuddin. Delhi Food Walks will be having their second walk in the series of Nizamuddin Food Walks in the month of August. Till then, Happy Walking!

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.