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Shahjahanabad ki Sair

Shahjahanabad ki Sair

By Anubhav Sapra

I met Osama Jalali, the famous food critic, a few days back in the alleys of Chitli Qabar, where he shared about the Shahjahanabad ki Sair Food Festival at Ssence, The Suryaa Hotel, from the 19th of December to the 21st of December.

There are many reasons to go to Shahjahanabad ki Sair at Suryaa Hotel, the first being that the food is cooked by Nazish Jalali, mother of Osama Jalali, who hails from Rampur and knows all the ins and outs of Rampur and Old Delhi cuisines. Secondly, Osama Jalali, who himself was born in Old Delhi, has curated the food festival. Thirdly, the spices and ingredients have been picked straight from Old Delhi; fourthly, to interact with Nazish Jalali and Osama Jalali, to understand the food preparations; fifthly, the food is served in copper utensils, which has its own charm of the old city. Sixthly, not much oil and ghee has been used in the cooking, keeping in mind the clientele of the hotel. Seventhly, the sair (literally, the journey, of Old Delhi food) can be enjoyed at one place in the cold winter of Delhi. Lastly, the best food cooked in the world is always by mothers in the home kitchen and has to be exceptionally good.

WP_20141214_20_27_14_ProThe sair at Shahjahanabad started with chicken seekh kebab and kache keeme ke kebab. In the main course, I was served aloo gosht, chicken korma, saag kofta, mutton nahari, hari mirch ka keema, and mutton biryani. All of them were excellent in taste, especially hari mirch ka keema, which has a nice flavour of green chillis but can be handled easily even if one does not like the spicy food preparations. The mutton biryani is cooked in the dum style and served with red chillis chutney. Most of the biryani sellers in Old Delhi use a special kind of rice called “sella” (par boiled) rice. I have seen the most famous biryani seller in Haveli Azam Khan draining out the excess water from the rice on a piece of cloth. That shows the rice will always retain its shape even if it is over cooked and water can be added if it is undercooked. The art of cooking biryani is in basmati rice, neither overcooked nor undercooked. Nazish has done justice to the biryani by retaining the shape, texture, flavours of the spices and tenderness of the meat.

WP_20141214_20_36_36_ProI rounded off my meal with Zarda, sweet flavourful rice with khoya, raisins, cashews, cherries and ghee. Throughout the sair, I never felt like I was sitting in a fine dining, high end place, as the interaction with Osama Jalali about the bawarchis, khansamas, and the food revolved around Shahjahanabad.

The menu works on a rotational basis with different kebabs and curries every day. So, if you want to get the feel of the home cooked style food of Shahjahanabad, visit Suryaa hotel before the 21st of December between 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. The price per person is Rs. 1950 for the entire buffet.

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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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Pebble Street

 15 years of amazing taste @Pebble Street

-Ayushi Teotia

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Set amidst the surroundings of a typical open Delhi market complex, which has now, in various areas been replaced by the contemporary “Mall era”, lies the Pebble Street. Located in a rather posh locality of New Friends Colony, the restaurant attracts various sects of people, and has become to be known as the local watering hole. It is a restaurant which seems to appeal to everyone for its location as well as reputation. The entrance gives the place a very young look, much like a sports bar, but once inside, one gets the hang of how the place is actually a favorite of all. The concept of the restaurant is actually defined by its name, and the idea seems quite unique and interesting, with porch lights hanging in the center, dim lights making the place look like an old British style pub, coupled with comfortable seating, divided in three different sections and a good collection of classic music.

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It is one of those outlets that have stood the test of time – it has been there since 1998 – and evolved as an excellent casual dining option. In fact, the restaurant is now completing 15 years on 11th October, and the same is relevant with the pamphlets hanging on the ceiling boasting of the extravagant services provided by the restaurant consistently. The menu, which imitated a typical European inspired theme, encompasses the best of Italian, Tex-Mex, Lebanese, European, Thai and Indian cuisines, giving a lot of options to choose from the selection of starters as well as mains.

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A person favorite would be the Lasagna Palermo, which is a ravishing combination of minced chicken with home made sheet pasta, giving it a big thumbs up, especially for red sauce pasta lovers. Apart from the exquisite Italian food, that this place is known for, the Classic all time diner favorite Pebble Burger, is something to die for. A delicious blend of Bacon and chicken served with French fries, Cole slaw and onion rings, is a definite stellar. Other than these, the thin crust pizzas, Enchiladas, Fish sticks, and Burritos are a constant favorite. The portion served is large enough for two to share a dish, making the place not too heavy on pocket. The drinks are the most popular part, and provide a range of good mock tails as well, at affordable pricing.

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Coming to my favorite part, i.e. the Desserts, were exceptionally good. The Blueberry Crème Pie, is the best cheesecake like sweet eats I’ve tasted in a very long time, making me wish for the toothsome dish to never finish! However, the best part of enjoying a meal in Pebble Street was being appreciated as a crowd for a constant support to the restaurant which has helped it to achieve glorifying fifteen years of existence, and hopefully many more to come, with a dessert combining the likes of a chocolate brownie, caramel and ice cream. The presentation of not just food, but the ambience is splendid. However, the service seemed a bit slow, which could certainly be improved. An F1 Race, A Soccer Match or a Crickety fever is the best time to be here if you like a packed house of revelers. Apart from the daily routine, when you want to pamper your taste buds and enjoy a nice evening out with friends, family or colleagues, you know the place to be.

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Price (for two): Rs 1200-1500

Overall Rating: 9/10

Nearest Metro: Kalkaji Metro Station

Location: 8, Community Center, New Friends Colony, New Delhi

Contact number: 011 2684 4380

Photographs by Foodie Photographer : Vidur Mayor.

 

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.