For the love of good food….
Delhi is the city of the large hearted. Dilli Dilwalon ki! The city is a true reflection of India’s past and has been a coveted jewel in the crown of many empires be it the Pandavas, Rajputs, Ghorids, Mamluks, Khiljis, Tughlaqs, Lodis, the Mughals and finally the British. It has been conquered and re-conquered by many formidable rulers, some of whose stories are part of the city’s folklore. That said it’s also a city that has managed to cast a charm on whichever dynasty that came to rule it. Although Kings, emperors and royals came from foreign lands, they made Delhi their home and over centuries built great monuments all around the city. They blended into the city and ended up giving it their own ethnic touch which ultimately influenced the food, clothing, culture and lifestyle of this city forever.
As our expedition to find the best bohemian eats in Delhi progressed, we realized we were truly spoilt for choice. Delhi’s food today has clear influences of the Mughal, Kayastha, Bania, British and Punjabi cuisine. This can be seen across the board, be it regular home cooking or fine dining in a restaurant.
Think of a varied amount of sweet (think jalebi, halwa, kulfi, sohan halwa, daulat ki chaat, fruit chaat), savoury (think papdi chaat, dahi Bhalla, aloo tikki, golgappa, samosa, parantha), spicy (kababs, rolls, chhole bhature) things to eat and mix it up with some of the most delightful beverages (nimbu pani, sharbat, jaljeera, kalonji, masala chai) and you get just an idea of the kaleidoscope that is Delhi’s street food scene.
However, since it is history that gives Delhi its unique identity, we thought it would be great to do a post on an iconic, age old joint of Delhi in a rather upmarket shopping locality i.e Khan Market. There are no prizes to guessing which eatery we are referring to. Yes, it is the evergreen eatery Khan Chacha. With a recent facelift, this hole in the wall enterprise has transformed into a comfortable air-conditioned joint that serves delectable succulent kababs, wrapped in soft roomali roti with the best accompaniments. Although we try and cover only unique joints, for the selct places with multiple outlets that we do cover, we believe that those eateries have survived the test of time because of their awesome food and nothing else. That pretty much sealed the deal for us and we went ahead with choosing Khan Chacha to be the first eatery on our gastronomic adventure in Delhi.
Ask any dilliwala about the best rolls, and you will get a double thumbs up for Khan Chacha as the place to go. As mentioned, Khan Chacha used to be a small hole-in-the-wall eatery with long queues in the middle road in Khan Market, the locality with the most expensive real estate in the country. The small stall was started by Haji Banda Hassan in 1972, after he perfected the art of making traditional Muslim food in the Jama Masjid area. The joint over time was a huge hit with a large fan following. Four years ago the stall was converted into a swanky air-conditioned 8-table eatery. The place is full of framed press articles showcasing the press coverage received and an LCD screen with photographs of numerous celebrities from Ranbir Kapoor, Sachin, Sourav, Kumble, Ajay Devgan to the entire Chennai Super Kings team.
We did a bit of research and started out with our order of Mutton Seekh Roll and Veg Hariyali Roll. All our orders were served with a spicy watery herbed yoghurt and thinly sliced onions.
The Mutton Seekh Roll had soft and tender mutton stuffed inside it. The mutton was well-cooked, soft and delicate. It was not too spicy and ensured that the flavor of the mutton could be felt in full force. In case any one wanted it spicier, the yoghurt provided just the right kick.
The Veg Hariyali roll was filled with a soft mushy and spicy concoction of boiled potatoes, mint and coriander. The extreme softness of the stuffing meant not only that the roomali roti and the potato stuffing were getting merged into each other but also made it difficult to handle. It was a messy affair but the taste made up for the mess.
While waiting for our next order we couldn’t help but notice a peculiar artistic design made with skewers (see image). This piece of art just felt perfect for the place, especially with its long history of doling out hot, tasty kebabs on skewers after they were grilled on coals.
The best part of our experience there was probably the Mutton Kakori kebab. The meat was amazingly fresh, tender, juicy and soft. The flavours were standing out perfectly, with the main flavor still being identified with the mutton. You could feel with every bite that the meat had been well minced. The beating and the tenderness also made it extremely light and airy without the heaviness in the stomach generally associated with mutton eating.
The paneer tikka packed for home was given in a nice branded bag. But that was probably the better part of the dish. The tikka had 8 pieces only of paneer and none of the usual accompanying items of onion or capsicum. It was also a little stretchy and without too much flavor to talk about though the watery yoghurt helped it’s case.
For some of the most succulent Mutton, Chicken or Fish kebabs and rolls, you just cannot miss Khan Chacha. Though the new set up is good, in a historic city like Delhi we would have preferred eating at its earlier hole in the wall version simply to get a better sense of its popularity.
While they now have 4 more outlets in Delhi NCR, for us the original remians the best bet.
Name: Khan Chacha
Specialties: Kebabs (especially mutton), Rolls
Khan Market: Flat No. 50, Middle Lane, Khan Market, New Delhi – 110003
Connaught Place: D-3, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001
Saket: G-3, Gold Class Building, Behind Select City Walk Mall, Saket, New Delhi – 110017
Punjabi Bagh: 47, North Avenue, Club Road, New Delhi – 110026
Gurgaon: Shop no. 90, Galleria Market, DLF Phase IV, Gurgaon – 122002
Veg/Non Veg: Both
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Food quality: 4/5
Specialties: Anything mutton
Overall rating: 4/5