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A royal spread
Old Delhi is the second stop of the Grand Trunk route being traced by restaurant Dilli 32 at the Leela Ambience Hotel. Shrabasti Mallik tastes the fare from the bylanes
The last time we were at the Leela Ambience Hotel’s restaurant, Dilli 32 to take a trip through the Grand Trunk Route, we started from Chandigarh. The food truck has now reached its second destination in the journey — the lanes of Old Delhi.
From aromatic kebabs to tangy aloo chaat and from rich mutton biryani to alu gosht ka salan — this particular menu was vast and we were delighted to try chef de cuisine, Ashwani Kumar Singh’s choicest favourites.
And when we say vast, do not doubt our judgement because we were served eight varieties of starters on the first go, and that was not even half of the dishes on the starters menu. Of all that we had, the kathal ki shammi, burra and pateli kebab deserve a special mention because these are dishes that one will not generally come across. The kathal ki shammi was especially good — a real surprise for vegetarians who believe that Old Delhi is mostly about meat. We also tried their shami kebab — aromatic spices and finely minced meat sauteed in flavoured condiments. The aloo chaat that came with a bowl of soft dahi bhalle and dry fruit chaat was quite a delight. It took us back to the small shops of Chandi Chowk — the same flavours, spices and quite surprisingly, the same taste, too.
What enhanced our journey through the bylanes of Old Delhi was Asif Khan Delhvi, storyteller from Delhi Karavan, guiding us into those lanes through stories. We learnt about the history of the dal arhar kaeri as it was served to us and about how Bahadur Shah Zafar had besani roti at Nizamuddin before being arrested, almost regularly. The khamiri naan was sweet and quite delicious on its own but it did go really well with the rann e Jahangiri. “I have tried to recreate the magic of Old Delhi food and culture with true authentic flavours by bringing them back,” said chef Ashwani, who spent a great deal of time in the lanes of Old Delhi, digging up old recipes and familiarising himself with the vastness of the cuisine.
Apart from the dal and khamiri naan we tried the mutton biryani and the aroma was as good as the taste. The meat was equally delicious. The alu gosht ka salan and chichen changezi, we tasted, but if you plan to visit, we suggest you try it with Indian breads or plain rice. Vegetarians can choose fromarvi ka salan, aloo katlian and qabuli. The portions are pretty considerable, too.
If you are in love with breads, the chef has a range of options where you can choose from, starting with bedmi puri bhaji. The sheermal, on the other hand was sweet, too and so was doodh cheeni ki roti.
If you have a full main course meal, there are chances that you would be full. But then again, we are Indians and meetha is something no less than obligatory after a meal. We dug into some crispyjalebi and took copius helpings of gulathi and gudamba.
All in all, it was a great to know the real taste of the city we live in, along with some great stories about the rule of the Mughal Empire, about the formation of Delhi and about places in the Capital celebrating with food all through the night from Asif. This particular promotion concludes on May 9 and is open only for dinner. And if you are really lucky, you may even come across Asif and he will gladly tell you a few stories.
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