Recently, I had the opportunity to experience two distinct outlets and their offerings. One is typically a Street Food counter in a locality market in Delhi and the other one a casual dining restaurant in an upmarket mall in Gurgaon. Both the places served amazing food. At both the places, the Chef knew what he does and why.
Lets talk first of Street Food.
I came to know that in Naraina, a decent neighbourhood in West Delhi, there is a shop which sells amazing Kulchey Chholey. The outlet is named as Kanshiram’s. So, on a Saturday, two of us drove to the place navigating our way through the lanes of a locality to a small local market. There was no signboard but could see a rush of people eating their grub outside an outlet. It is a small non-ac shop which has a payment counter at the entrance where you pay and collect your token. That token is then taken to the rear portion of the shop to get your order. The counter at that time had at least ten people waiting with money in hand and an equal number of people waiting at the rear part to collect their stuff. The man at the counter was not accepting money to issue tokens till the time the rush eased out at the collection counter. He told that it may take around 15-20 minutes before he could issue us a token.
Finally, we were able to got our token and once victorious, we approached the counter at the rear. It was a L-shaped counter which had a packing place on one end and a huge Tawa on the other end. The guy at the packing counter was taking the tokens and asked if we intend to get it packed or wanted to eat there (they have a make-shift table type counter fixed in the wall at the enterance and a couple of bar tables outside for people to stand and eat). The counter was surrounded by a swarm of people struggling to get their order. The packing guy announces the orders to the Chef (perhaps the owner) behind the Tawa and the magic starts.
First, a few ladles of melted butter from a nearby vessel, are taken out and poured over that Tawa. Then the baked kulchas, about twenty of them, are spread over the Tawa. Once slightly done, they are flipped and more butter is poured. Then, from another vessel, a Red Chutney is ladled out and each of the Kulcha is topped with about half a teaspoon of it and finally smeared evenly all over. Then the green coriander and finally, cottage cheese is grated over each (at any stage you may advise not use any particular ingredient if you wish). It was a delight to watch the process. Once done, you are served with your plate of Chholey, topped with onion rings, green chillies, half a lemon and pickle AND Kulchas, three of them.
Having experienced the making of those beauties, I didn’t want to waste any further time romancing the beauty. As soon as I kept the plate on the table, an aroma of garlic mixed with butter hit me. Couldn’t wait further, and a bite of the kulcha in your mouth told you that it is a class apart. The Red Chutney on the Kulcha had a predominant garlic flavour with tomatoes, onion, ginger, red chilli and other basic spices. The butter provided the creamy moisture to the bread and the fiery Chutney was giving that sharpness of flavour. Chholey too were equally good. They had a slightly runny consistency with the basic spices and had that usual tang. Were well done and had balanced spices. The three amazing Kulchas, drenched in butter,
along with that reasonably big plate of Chholey put me back by just 50 rupees, only.
Full marks to the Chef for making the Kulcha as the hero to take the Chholey along and not the other way round. I need to go there at least couple of times more.
Then, early this week, Chef Sanjay Pawar, as usual, wanted to introduce to me yet another place to have lunch. So, why wait and in no time we were there in Kylin Experience restaurant in Good Earth Mall, Gurgaon. A bit of fine dining now. The menu card said the name Kylin was derived from the Chinese and Japanese legends and that the guests could expect a perfect Epicurean Experience. The context was set, perfectly, for what to expect.
First on our table arrived……Non-Veg Sushi Platter comprising, Maki, Californian and Nigiri. Was a delight to look at the platter as the beautiful Sushi was accompanied by pickled ginger, wasabi and soya. Sanjay insisted that the restaurant showed us the pack of Wasabi which was served before we eat. He wanted to satisfy that it was original and of good quality. They readily brought a green pack on to the table and Sanjay’s eyes lit up. He said, it is indeed the Wasabi and not a made up thing. We relished each roll one by one and was one of the best Sushi I had eaten. The fish was fresh and delicate, the vinegared rice was moist and tasteful and the pickled ginger was a delight to savour.
Next came, Wok Tossed Chicken With Bullet Chillies. Pieces of boneless chicken smeared in spices, literally bullet shaped and sized red chillies and nuts. Sitting in a bowl it was a delight to watch and a very delicate aroma was coming out of it. The chicken was soft and juicy inside and had a hint of sharpness and nuttiness of sesame seeds, peanuts and cashew nuts. Despite warnings from Sanjay, I had to take a bite of the bullet chillies and yes they were flavourful and not so sharp.
Now was the time for the mains and we had ordered a Thai Dish and a Burmese Dish. I wanted to end it with the Burmese so Chicken in Thai Green Curry with Sticky Steamed Rice were the next on our table. The curry sitting in the bowl had sliced chicken, bamboo shoot, ginger and red cherries poping out of the green curry gave a fantastic look. The aroma was very inviting too. A quick helping of rice and the curry poured over it made a deadly combo. The curry was delicate and creamy and rice were soft, moist and flavourful.
Ordinarliy, this would have sufficed but my liking for Burmese Khow Suey held me back to not to tank up with the Thai curry and Rice.
So, sitting in a serving bowl came the egg noodles with curried prawns in coconut milk. Along with it came a platter of accompaniments comprising, whole and crushed nuts, fried onion, red chilli flakes, green corriander leaves and lemon. The halved boiled egg placed on the top of the dish said it all. The yolk was yellow and saying that it was fresh. The golden yellow coloured curry was giving out a great aroma and a spoonful in the plate gave out that it had good number of prawns. Once, all the accompaniments were sprinkled, the dish tasted very authentic and was a bouquet of the various delicate flavours. Once again, the chef had proved that even with frozen prawns, one can do wonders. The compliments were duly conveyed to the chef in the kitchen.
Two distinct cuisines and two distinct experiences. One common factor: The Chef knows What He Does, and Why? So, if you love your Kulchey Chholey or Oriental, you may not lose any more time. Head to these places.