We all have our favourite dishes and favourite places to savour. The question is, how you would have come to know of such places? Chances are that someone, a foodie in the circle, would have told you. And these places are either famous “Touristy” places or relatively unknown places, but serving great food. At least, these dishes and places work best for us and we want to go there whenever we could.
The trigger of today’s story is that special Mutton dish and the someone. Knowing that I appreciate food, I keep on getting suggestions for the places serving great food and someone would always suggest me.
So, the first thing first – I was recently told about a small hole-in-the-wall stall in New Delhi’s Palika Market. Palika Market and food ? Exactly that was my reaction for the market is known for apparels and electronics. The place is an underground market which is always full with crowds looking for dearth cheap apparels and electronics.
So, this Sunday afternoon I was there to savour an amazing Saag Mutton served by one Gouri Shanker from an over crowded allay in mini market housed inside the Palika Market. I am told that in normal days he serves other Chicken and Mutton Korma but on Sunday it is Saag Mutton which is a hit. One has to jostle ones way to reach that little stall amongst the line of a few eateries and all doing brisk business. Once I was able to catch the attention of Gouri Shanker and place my order, despite that crowd, it took him less than 30 seconds to deliver my order of a plate of Saag Mutton and a Khamiri Roti.
The Saag Mutton was served in a paper bowl and the bread, topped with a few slices of onion, on a piece of newspaper, crude way though. The aroma which emanated from that dish can’t be described in words. Pieces of Meat coated in dark coloured Saag, glazed with ghee and interspersed with fresh green and red chillies didn’t allow me to wait further. A spoonful told me that it is a hidden gem tucked there in middle of the crowd of shops and shoppers. It had all the blend of flavours of Saag, Meat, spices, ghee and chillies. The meat was tender an on the bone. Came out easily and it was pinkish inside. A slightly high on heat quotient, it was a divine experience. A must have for meat lovers. By the time, I finished eating, the vessel out of which he was serving was almost more than half empty. It was just two in the afternoon and the dish was about to finish. It is a super hit, surely.
Now, let’s come to the trigger from where the story started today. Like I came to know of this place and this dish from someone, on this Friendship Day, I must appreciate a foodie friend who is a continuous source of information on good food choices.
I dedicate this piece to a ‘genuine foodie’ who enjoys food in true sense. He would go to famous places and has his own favourite not-so-famous joints. Doesn’t boasts of being a knowledgeable gourmet, is not member of any foodie group, doesn’t flash pics of food on social media, doesn’t critique food or cuisines and yet is a living food guidebook.
Manoj Khattar, fondly known as Khattar San in our circle, is a senior corporate executive who is respected and trusted for his technical knowledge. Is a bright engineer from BITS, Pilani and works like a maniac. However, post his maddening schedule, Food is always a very important part of his schedule. We call him an encyclopedia of food. He is a widely travelled man and has knowledge Bank of scores of eating places in each city, wherever he has travelled. His no visit is complete without bringing back food specialities of that place.
There are instances that while driving down from Kanpur to Lucknow to catch a flight back to Delhi, he would arrange to get delivery of his favourite items at the airport just before catching the flight. At Ludhiana railway station once when we were waiting for the train to come for Delhi, I noticed a delivery boy handing him over a pack against payment. He explained me that there was restaurant which served great Butter Chicken in Ludhiana. So he booked on phone and gave his coach number for the delivery.
And, his passion and knowledge about eating joints is equally good in foreign land too. I have travelled with him to China and other places. He exactly knows where to eat what and what to shop for (he is a shopaholic too). He is a gem of a human being and a great foodie.
Last week, on my timeline in Facebook, I posted a picture of a tempting plate of Ram Ladoos, a street food. His immediate reaction came suggesting me to try the one sold near the Petrol Pump on Rao Tularam Marg. Next time, near that place, I have to try this for it is Khattar San’s recommendation. So, before writing this piece, I asked him for his favorite places and dishes in Delhi & NCR. It took him less than 5 minutes to oblige me with his recommendations without even asking me the purpose. His list includes some known and some completely unknown places but yes, he swears by each one of it. Let me give you a peek into his recommendations here :
- Gol Gappey : Harish Bakery, Gurgaon , Satyaniketan Market, Delhi
- Bhalla Papri Chat : Natraj, Chandni Chowk, Nathu’s & Prabhu, Shahjahan Road
- Momos : QDs, Satyaniketan Market
- Chinese Van : Sec 29, Gurgaon
- Authentic Chinese : Monk / bercos / Dinesty, Gurgaon
- Chholey Bhaturey : Radha Krishna, Saini Enclave, Karkardooma
- Chholey Kulchey : Vivek Vihar
- Amritsar Kulcha : Harish Bakery, Gurgaon and Sukhdev Dhaba, Murthal
- Stuffed Naan : Gulati, Pandara Road Market
- Parantha : Anand Connaught Place & Sukhdev Dhaba, Murthal
- Keema Kaleji : Chicken Inn, Pandara Road Market
- Mutton Curry : Gulati & Havemore, Pandara Road Market
- Butter Chicken : Lazeez Affair, Malcha Marg Market
- Tandoori Chicken : Waves, Adchini
- Fish Fry : Ganesh, Karol Bagh and Gopi Nath bazar, Delhi Cantt
- Fish Tandoori : Colonel’s Kebabs, Defence Colony and Downtown, Gurgaon
- Dinner Buffet: Lalit, Barakhamba Road
- Kebabs : Ahmed Kebabs, Khan Market & Colonel’s Kebabs, Defence Colony
- Samosa: Jaina Sweets, Jharsa, Gurgaon
- Tikki: Prabhu, Shahjahan Road
Khattar San, I salute you for your passion for good food and flavours. It is always a delight to know about good eating places from you and even much more when we travel and eat together. Many more to come. Till then…. Bon Appetite !!