And the answer is NOT Old Delhi. Read on… 🙂
Those who are familiar with Delhi, would know what NDMC stalls are. Those are the really small structures on the pavements of Central Delhi selling Chai, Sutta and Snacks to the Babus working in those corridors of power. Most of those NDMC stalls are quite basic – Chai, Samosa, Kachori, Bread Pakore, Fruits, Biscuits, Cold-drinks, Juices etc. However not too far from palatial Presidential Estate in Delhi, next to Assam Bhawan, right in the diplomatic corridors is located a small stall, that does not bear any name, is poorly lit and is something that is very easy to miss. Nothing that would separate it from those quintessential stalls in Central Delhi.
However if you are there in the evening hours, and pay close attention, you will find a beeline of cars standing next to it. Fancy cars are not very uncommon in that part of the town, however spend a moment or two, and you will see a steady stream of food flowing from the ubiquitous looking stall to those cars. Welcome to Al-Kauser. Or rather one of the outlets of Al-kauser which has developed into a much bigger chain now which has successfully spread its kebab fueled wings, atleast in Delhi.
|A closer look at the stall of Al Kauser|
|Inside the stall|
|Making Varqi Parantha|
We will let the chain do what it does and focus our energies on this particular outlet, you might call me a romantic, but this little stall selling kebabs and Biryanis has managed to charm me..
~ Galauti Kebabs : As melt in mouth as they are supposed to be by virtue of their name, they serve 4 round (tikki type) kebabs in a plate, and I doubt if its possible to make them any finer. Aficionados might draw comparison from here and there, but that would be matter of individual taste. Tunday Kebabi from Lucknow (they now have a chain in Delhi), Rajendra da Dhaba and some of the finer restaurants in town can only claim to touch this beauty served by Al Kauser. That said, I would not be surprised if Alkauser guys manage to beat everyone else in sheer finesse of flavors and spices.
~ Kakauri : Again, melt in mouth, they serve 2 of them seekhs in a plate and are just slightly different from the Galautis in the way they are spiced. Personally I am not able to find much difference in their texture. The kakoris that I have eaten here are at par with best in business from Delhi – Al Quresh and Aap Ki Khatir are the other two names that come to my mind and the line separating them three is so thin that it is virtually non-existent. Honestly speaking would not be surprised if someone told me that Kebabchis working at these three eateries are fruits of the same tree or trained under the same Ustad, the Master Kebab maker.
~ Biryani : Now this can be a show stopper for many. They serve Chicken and Mutton Biryani in a Handi, complete with a lid, sealed by dough. I am assuming that they put partially done rice and meat in the handi, seal it and then put it inside a tandoor or in a bhatti, where it spends some time. The process is called ‘Dum’ lagana, where various flavors from meat, spices and rice infuse among themselves. The lid is sealed with dough allowing nothing to escape from that handi. Ask then to serve you the Handi itself as opening it would release the aromas of extremely hot and well made delicacy and it is something that one must experience. Here let me warn you – they do not serve any salan, or raita with their biryani, and honestly speaking I have never felt the need for one too.
|Handi of Mutton Biryani|
|Mutton Biryani served in a plate|
|Sealed Handi of Biryani|
~ Chicken Malai Tikka : Generally Malai Tikkas are white in color and creamy in taste, however the ones I have eaten here are more on the charred side, slightly overdone to give that taste and colors but just enough to make sure they still have some moisture left in them.
I was really surprised when I was told that people have been coming here from 70’s and now feel that the place is way past of golden years, but then that is something that I have heard about every legend. I feel generally when people get bored of someplace OR there are slight changes, that is when that accusation or tag of being past the best comes.Honestly speaking have never really paid attention to the prices so cannot comment on them, however last time I was there we had 2 portions of kakori, 2 paranthas and a biryani – we paid close to Rs. 800, which would not put it under cheap category, however with the kind of food they serve, I do not mind paying that kind of money.
Talking about service, I doubt if they know H of hospitality. If you are in a car, blow your horn and one of the boys would be there to fetch your food. If you are outside the car, then do not expect them to listen to you, seems like they are just too used to horns.
|Kebabs and Tikkas being roasted..|
That said if you go there in colder months, make sure you step out of your car, or otherwise put your air-conditioner to external mode just to get a whiff of those goodies being roasted on coal fire. Very rustic, Very delicious.
PS : This post if of my experience of the Malcha Marg outlet, cannot say much about other more shiney branches. And much thanks to Nitin Seth paah ji for introducing me to this joint.
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