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Nand di Hatti

Nand di Hatti

By Anubhav Sapra

There are a few landmark eateries in Delhi that continue to sustain their authentic taste, one generation after the other. When it comes to Delhi’s classic Punjabi dish – chole bhature, only few have retained the original taste. Out of these few establishments, one of them is Nand di Hatti in Sadar Bazar. I went there with my parents the other day. My parents had the first bite and proudly gave their verdict, that the taste and quality is still the same even after thirty years.

The complete name of the eatery is Nand di Hatti. The address is 829, Paan Mandi, Sadar Bazar, Delhi – 110006, and their phone numbers are 9582105678, 9958717192, and 9811480566.

WP_20150122_13_18_44_ProThe family is originally from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, where they had a chole, kulche and roti shop in Raja Bazar. After partition, they migrated to Delhi in 1947 and started selling chole kulche in Sadar Bazar on a cart. In 1960, Nand Lal ji bought the shop at the corner of Paan Mandi and introduced his chole bhature made in desi ghee. Currently, Om Prakash ji, son of the late Nand Lal ji runs the shop with his two sons. There is one more shop by the name of Nand di Hatti, owned by his brother.

WP_20150122_13_19_22_ProThe dough of bhaturas is prepared with suji (semolina), maida (white flour), dahi (yoghurt), namak (salt), cheeni (sugar), hing (asafoetida), baking powder, and yeast. Their addition of suji to the bhatura dough took me by surprise. The bhaturas are soft and even crispy, with no oil dripping out. The chole was a mix of delectable flavours. Owing to the few most important spices used quite commonly in our Indian dishes like hing (asafoetida), jeera (cumin), ajwain (carom), saunf (fennel seeds), and mirch (red and yellow chillies). They also do not add any onion and garlic. The best part is that you will never feel that you are missing out on them. The accompaniments served with the dish include amla ka achaar (gooseberry pickles) and green chillies achar. Spicy, enough! It was a real street treat! A plate of chole and bhature costs Rs. 90.

The bhaturas, chole, and pickles are all made in desi ghee. The dish is certainly not for health conscious and faint-hearted people. My parents without worrying about the cholesterol gobbled the dish. I, too, happily wiped down the plate of chole bhature.

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Yahya Tea Stall

Yahya Tea Stall

Everyone always ignores the small tea stall on the side of the road or at the corner of a street. No one knows the history behind a small tea stall. Even Shah Rukh Khan’s father had a tea stall and served tea at a very well known drama company in Delhi, and if it was not for the star, we would probably never have known that such a tea stall existed.

WP_20141117_037Likewise, there is an old tea stall in the lane of Gali Qasmijan, right at the entrance of Phatak Luharu in Ballimaran. This tea stall was started by the late Haji Mohammed Farooq in 1969, carried on by his son the late Mohammed Yahya. It has been forty-five years since the pouring and serving of tea has been going on here. Now, the grandchildren, Mr. Farhan and Mr. Faizan, who are reporters with a newspaper, are still taking care of their family business. Their father, the late Mohammed Yahya, also owned a dairy shop named after his wife, Sabra and a hotel where the tea famously known as “Haji ki Chai” was served. Since the grandchildren did not have the same aspirations as their father, they gave up the place for rent and but have still kept the touch and name of their father through the tea stall.

When I looked at the boys preparing the tea, I was completely amazed at how it was being prepared. It was nothing like the way we prepare it at home.

WP_20141117_049The tea leaves are boiled in water in an aluminum kettle for a long time and on the other side, the milk is kept boiling, letting it form a layer of cream, commonly known as malai. The first step is to put a spoonful of sugar, a teaspoon of milk and boiled tea, and a spoon of malai. It is then stirred well and served hot. If you desire for a strong cup of tea, they add a spoon of fresh tea leaves, while pouring the boiled tea, in the strainer to give it that dark look and a strong kick. Mostly it would look like filtered tea that is served at a fancy tea shop.

There is a lively history behind this tea stall. Believe it or not a hundred and fifty cups of tea were made and served at a time which impressed me so much since there are so many different steps to get a perfect cup of tea. It definitely did not taste like the regular tea that one drinks every morning.

Nearby the tea stall, there was once a college named Tibbia College which has been shifted to Karol Bagh. This college offers education in medicine, and therefore, numerous and frequent doctors, professors, and students would be attending this college. Now a morning without a tea would not be complete and Yahya Tea Stall completed the mornings of a lot of people in the college and around. Tibbia College ordered six hundred teas almost every day, and without fail they were served with the same quality and standard.

WP_20141117_041For a couple of days, the tea stall had been shut down but by popular demand of the people living there and expressing their love for the tea and the family, the stall was back with a bang, serving tea with as much as dedication as it did when it first started.

The grandchildren besides being modernized and familiar with the media profession did not leave their ancestral house and believed that living there would keep the culture and history of the place alive. Surprisingly, the haveli that they reside in was once the haveli of Ghalib Mirza’s second wife. It definitely must be exciting to live in a house with intricate Mughal style designed pillars, doors, windows, and houses. Farhan Yahya said that the love and the respect of the people could not make him leave the place where he spent his childhood.

A must visit if you want to have a perfectly made hot cup of tea.

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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.

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Roller Kulfi

Roller Kulfi

By Anubhav Sapra

Jugaad’ is the word that comes to my mind whenever I see ‘roller kulfi’ during Ramnavmi celebrations in Old Delhi. It is the only time in a year where one can savour the roller kulfi or disco fruit kulfi, called by many.

20141014_194446I was delighted, also amazed to see the two roller kulfiwalas in Kamla Nagar, namely, Bablu Kulfi and B.K. Variety Kulfi. You will be able to find them both at Chota Gol Chakkar, near Geeta Mandir. Let me tell you first about the equipment that is used to make roller kulfi. A huge iron cylinder is filled with crushed ice. This cylinder is then put in a stand that has a pedal on one side. It is important to roll the cylinder using a pedal; otherwise the same will melt away. This is taken care of by the two men every time: one who does not lose a single minute to roll the cylinder; and the other who prepares the layers of kulfi by crushing fruits and pouring rabri and milk. All different kinds of fruits – mango, banana, papaya, orange, pomegranate, etc. are added one after the other and interspersed with rabri. The ice inside the roller freezes the juices and with a knife, layers of frozen kulfi are collected in a ‘dona’. The kulfi is fresh and ready to eat before it melts.

20141014_194555Besides the fruit juices, B.K. Variety kulfi pours khus and roohafza syrup too. Thus out of the two, I would recommend Bablu’s( 9810246203) as the flavours are completely natural. The freshness of fruit juices with rabri, without added flavour makes the kulfi truly delectable.

I believe it should be named as ‘Galaouti Kulfi’ as ‘Galaouti’ means ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ and roller kulfis simply disappear in your mouth. The only thing it will leave you with would be its fresh taste.

For all those who missed it during Ramnavmi, this is a last chance to savour the same in Kamla Nagar till Diwali between 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., for only Rs. 50.

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Crispy Kachoris of Janpath

Crispy Kachoris of Janpath

By Anubhav Sapra

I received a tweet yesterday –“the nip is in the air and the nuts are back”, with a picture of a huge mound of groundnuts with a clay pot kept at the centre. The clay pot is filled with the small pieces of wooden sticks.  These are lit so to keep the surrounding nuts warm. It also rained in some parts of North Delhi and the mercury dipped further. To celebrate the pleasant weather, I headed out to Janpath to grab a plate of Crispy kachoris, bread pakodas and samosa.

20141013_165609Ranjeet is the man who sells delicious mouth-watering kachoris on the pavement of Janpath. One can easily find him in the morning (9:30 – 12:00) and evening (4:00 to 7:30), sitting opposite Midland Book Shop with a blue box containing kachoris, samosas and bread pakodas, a huge bucket filled with  Potato and Chickpeas curry and a half-litre sprite bottle filled with green spicy chutney.

All the three dishes are priced at Rs 10 each. I tried each one of them, starting with Kachoris, then samosas and finally bread pakodas. Ranjeet serves kachori in a dona and adds aloo chane ki sabzi to it. He squeezes the sprite bottle to pour some green chutney over it. The kachoris with the filling of lentils were great in taste, crispy and fresh. The samosas and bread pakodas were equally delectable.

It’s a good start to celebrate the onset of pleasant winter weather with light crispy kachoris. My next stop is Old Delhi’s Khemchand, Gali Paranthewali, who is back with his Daulat ki Chaat, a delicacy of winter!

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Soju like to drink?

August 24, 2014

Soju like to drink?

By Aisha Bhattacharya


When people talk about alcohol it’s usually the regulars that get discussed like Vodka, Whisky, Rum, and Beer. I recently had the opportunity to go for a Soju tasting. Now, the invite said it was Jinro Soju – Jinro is the world’s leading producer of Soju and is a South-Korean brand. A little like Sake but not quite. While Sake is like warm beer (being a fermented drink) Soju is distilled and closer to vodka in terms of the manufacturing process.

Jinro now in India Surprisingly Soju is the most widely consumed drink in the world and sold nearly 65 million cases worldwide which is 2.5 times more than the next best selling spirit in the world. And we hear about it now! As of 2014, only Jinro Soju is available in India. Jinro 24 Soju is bulk imported and bottled in Goa for further distribution in the cities of Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Before the tasting I decided to ask a few friends about it. The friends I chose had varying things to say:

Friend 1 is an American citizen of Chinese origin, an aspiring actress based in L.A. Here is what she said via a messaging application, ‘It’s not so different from Sake to me. Not for everyone, lol. Not really my thing, I prefer cocktails or wine. But, some people probably love it!’ This left me wondering, it didn’t give me a clear picture of what to expect. So I asked the next person who I thought would know what Soju is like.

Friend 2 is an Anglo-Indian based in Gurgaon; he has been in the hospitality industry for over 10 years now and deals in the luxury segment. I thought he’d be the perfect person to ask. Here is what he said, “Not my thing. You need to develop a taste for it and it usually goes well with Japanese food. It’s had neat and tastes like cheap vodka, like the one that was an outcome of a science project. If you like vodka maybe you’d like it. Drink it as chilled as possible and keep something you like eating in your mouth.” Now this was definitely making things clearer for me. I’m not really a fan of Vodka but by now my curiosity had got the better of me. I do enjoy Japanese food and luckily the venue for this tasting was Shiro at the Samrat Hotel in Chanakyapuri. But, I still wanted to ask one more person but I had no idea who else would know.

Friend 3 : My desire was fulfilled when I received a phone call from a very dear friend based in New York, he is a Punjabi-Bengali NRI and is very Wall Street (anyone who does anything with finance in New York is Wall Street enough for me). So, I asked him his opinion on Soju and his take was rather refreshing! He said, “I love it! It is my favourite first date drink.” When I asked him why, he said that the high creeps up on you very slowly and before you know it you’re drunk. So if any woman could handle him like that there lies the possibility of a future. I asked him if the deception was like Feni and he said yes!

Armed with all this invaluable knowledge I arrived at Shiro for the tasting and I have to admit I am a fan. The Soju was served chilled and neat as expected. The General Manager – Mr. Diljeet Singh Bindra came and spoke to us about the Soju and later even sent us a plate of Fire Cracker prawn that was absolutely delicious and went down well with it. We were served in the traditional ceramic cups and the Soju was poured into ceramic pots which lay nestled in a bowl of ice ensuring it remained chilled.

Jinro Locator Delhi It is a clear, colourless and versatile liquid that is rather smooth and tastes pretty good. Unlike Vodka it doesn’t send a burning sensation down your throat and can be sipped at ease through the meal. We had the Teppanyaki Experience and the Soju went very well with all the food on offer. We sipped it chilled and managed to go through 2 bottles of 375ml each.  As the name suggests this particular Soju had an ABV of 24% making it a little over half the strength of Vodka and none of the burning sharpness that accompanies vodka or even white rum for that matter.

I didn’t feel dizzy or anything but I did get very sleepy by the time I got home and woke up with a mild headache that went away after 2 glasses of water. Other than that no hangover!

Soju tips:

  1. Serve absolutely chilled
  2. Drink it neat
  3. Pair it with Sushi or Sashimi if you like that. Or as my friend said with anything you like to eat but definitely go Asian with the flavours.
  4. Soju can also be used as a base for cocktails or a shot dropped into a pint of beer to make a ‘Soju-Bomb’. You could also mix 30% Soju and 70% Beer to make a ‘Somaek’.
  5. Watch how much you drink because of the high alcohol content
  6. It hits you much after you drink it so make sure you have a ride back home and are not driving

Soju Facts:

  1. Soju is traditionally made from rice, wheat or barley but modern producers use supplements or even replace rice with other starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes or tapioca.
  2. It has a high alcohol content ranging from 16.7% to 45% alcohol by volume (ABV) for traditional Andong soju with 20% ABV being most common.

Soju Etiquette:

  1. When receiving a glass from an elder, one must hold the glass with two hands (left palm on the bottom and hold the glass with the right hand) and bow the head slightly.
  2. When it is your turn to drink, turn away from the elder and cover your mouth and glass with your hands. This is a useful tip in case you aren’t used to drinking neat alcohol.
  3. While pouring a glass for others hold the bottle with your right hand and support your right arm with your left hand by touching the elbow. Anyone who has ever done puja or aarti at a temple will manage the supporting part with ease.
  4. Most importantly: Never pour your own and don’t refill until the glass is empty.

Here comes the awesome part: You can visit jinro and login to their page via facebook to nominate a friend for a Soju Party on their birthday! I’ve already asked a couple of friends to nominate me and why not? I really enjoyed the drink! Drink it with an open mind and a not too empty stomach and you’ll actually enjoy the experience. Also please see the Jinro Locator provided by Jinro India for Delhi.