Kake Da Hotel- Best Butter Chicken, Really?

If you ask anyone or check any of the listing sites or Google where to have best Butter Chicken in Delhi or unearth the of list top ten Butter Chickens in Delhi, invariably the much famed Kake De Hotel will crop up!

Delhi is synonymous with Butter Chicken! And the true blue Delhite I am, ¬†I constantly crave good butter chicken & butter naan! It has to be one of my favourite comfort foods especially when I want to drown my sorrows in some butter ūüėõ

The comfort food
Butter Chicken- the ultimate comfort food
If you ask anyone or check any of the listing sites or Google where to have best Butter Chicken in Delhi or unearth the of list top ten Butter Chickens in Delhi, invariably the much famed Kake De Hotel will crop up!
So yesterday was one of those when I needed some sinful indulgence and landed up at THE Kake De Hotel during the early lunch hours! ¬†As I walked up the stairs, I noticed the wall was lined with framed certificates and wasn’t surprised at all to find lots of travelers seated there who sure where there to tick this in their bucket list! There were¬†some locals as well who were enjoying their fill.
*Warning* ¬†If you aren’t comfortable with dirty dingy places, don’t when bother to go for a meal, like most dhabas the sights aren’t very pleasing!¬†Oh but the good part is they have some full power air conditioning! Nonetheless as soon as we were seated, a plate full of onions topped with green chutney and some masala was placed on our table- even before the water ūüėČ Well dhabas are your real QSRs- quick service restaurants.
Fresh & Tangy
Fresh & Tangy

We had a clear agenda and ordered half plate butter chicken  (Rs 340+) with butter naan and tandoori roti without without batting an eyelid! And within couple of minutes the food arrived, the breads looked fresh & crispy. The Butter Chicken looked sad with no trace of butter or that gorgeous creamy gravy- it almost looked like the humble dhabha style chicken curry! First bite and i was heart broken, the gravy was watery with boiled tomatoes & onion with some oil thrown on top! Well that is not how butter chicken is supposed to be. It lacked the tangy kick or the silkness that is achieved by cooking it well with butter or cream! The chicken was tender and well cooked though.

By no standards it can be called a butter chicken- to make sure it wasn’t the chicken curry we checked with the server who¬†told us that ¬†a big pot of the dish is made in one go and they serve from it throughout the day, so no customisation was possible. Also that they do keep the dish non spicy or bland purposely- which i wasn’t surprised to hear as the places is very popular among the tourists.
Feast
Feast
Best Butter Naan ever
Best Butter Naan ever
Tandoori Roti
Tandoori Roti – very nicely done.
Lacha Parantha
Lacha Parantha
Seeing that we weren’t happy with the food the server quickly¬†asked if we would like to have something else instead of the butter chicken – without wasting any time we ¬†ordered dahi meat which was listed as Rogan Josh( Rs. 200+) ¬†and Dal Makhni (Rs. 90+)
The Dal Makhni was kickass in one word, well cooked and utterly creamy without the heavy use of cream & butter- a consistency that is achieved if the lentils are simmered with spices for a long time! It has to be one of the best dal makhni i have ever tasted. I will for sure go back for my Dal Tandoori Roti combo &  pyaaz chutney  fill!
Dal 2
Look at the beauty
Since we had no high expectations- the dahi meat tasted decent, the meat was tender & it had that dhabha curry type of thin gravy! Again there was nothing Rogan Josh about it- neither the taste nor the colour!
Dahi Meat
Dahi Meat
I wonder how can people recommend KDH for butter chicken? Has the place lost its sheen over the years and now banking on the inflow of the tourists who clearly have no idea what a good butter chicken is about? The meal left me questioning what makes a good butter chicken, is there any standard recipe or every restaurant/dhabha  over the years has developed its own style?

Mughal Mahal Restaurant & Bar – The Buttery Experience

I can tell you is that whatever I ate there, tasted very nice, it is something I will recommend if you like rich food, and if you like rich food, this place is worth making a trek to, from any part of the town. Something I would be going back for, for sure.

Being a resident of the area, Mughal Mahal is something that I have been familiar with since childhood. However have never really tried their food, except for their dal maybe couple of times which was brought home by a cousin. Being a vegetarian, Malai Kofta and Dal Makhani were the things that he used to rave about. being a vegetarian back then I was deaf and dumb to anything with Chicken in it so any reference of Butter Chicken would have skidded past without leaving a trace. But now no more.
Another reason for me never venturing in there was easy availability of North Indian food at every corner in the area, and then the costing. I remember the first time I went in, I was in my teens and me with 3 other friends collected 100 rups each and went to Mughal Mahal to have dinner on some occasion. Being used to eating dal for Rs. 30-40, I guess dal at Mughal Mahal for Rs.80-100 came as shocker and the bigger shocker was Tandoori Roti. While our favorite dhaba was feeding a roti for Rs.1-3 at that time, Mughal Mahal was Rs.12 for one. and the way we ate at that age, thinking about 5-6 rotis was enough to give me mini heart-attack. To save our izzat, we ordered 2 beers amongst 4 of us, paid Rs.200 and decided to spend remaining 200 at our favorite dhaba.
But then things have changed, and how. Now I am a non-vegetarian, in my early 30’s and if I may call it, well-FED. Besides that since Mughal Mahal got a very high ranking in a recent Butter Chicken Hunt by Delhi Gourmet Club, I have been searching for an opportunity to sample and savor their butter chicken. Yesterday offered a perfect occasion for that as I was hanging out with a friend and she showed some affinity towards Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani and Butter Naan combo. There was not better time to venture in Mughal Mahal.
Located on edge of Rajendra Place, facing East Patel Nagar it has a cozy corner for itself. From outside, looks like a run down place, with restaurant and bar as the label, easy to take it as one of quintessential watering holes of that part of Delhi. Being a with a lady friend, I was bit worried, however once we stepped in, it was heartening to see families and groups. Everything about this place seemed to be archaic, from its waiters, to table clothes to the patrons that we saw last evening. That said, I was surprised to see the kind of following this place has, did not expect it to be.. ummm… crowded.
Opening the menu I was looking for a rude shock, like the roti for Rs.80 or something, somehow I was OK with whatever cost Butter Chicken and Dal came at. And when I saw Roti for Rs.35 I took a deep breath of relief and realized that the world has moved on, I have moved on. quarter plate of Butter Chicken for Rs.360 odd and Dal for Rs. 230 odd did not seem too bad, made me realize how times have changed and how Rs.500 per head has become very middle class. How no one bothers about the food costs and everyone understands that they are paying for the experience and not for dal, roti and boti.

 

Butter Chicken (Can you see the texture of gravy?)
We ordered quarter plate Butter Chicken, which came with 2 pieces of Chicken and one Dal makhani along with a Butter Naan and Roti. The portion sizes were very nice, though it was only two pieces, however the Chicken came with huge amount of gravy and combined with Dal would easily complete a meal of 2-4 people with decent appetite.
One dish is named with Butter and other with Makhan, so we expect them to be rich and they WERE rich and how. One of the creamiest dal I have ever experienced, for some people it might be a turn off, but then I loved what I ate. It was rich, however had the right amount of sourness to take care of my limited palette and tasting abilities. Similarly Butter Chicken was..ummm… buttery, however you could feel the onions and tomatoes in the gravy (check the first picture). For me, it was right balance of Tomatoes and creaminess but then I have a very limited palette in the dish. Chicken was cooked well, and was melt in your mouth.
Naan and Roti both were very run of the mill, extra care could have been taken to make them better.
Quarter portion of Butter  Chicken at Mughal Mahal
Dal Makhani at Mughal Mahal
Chutney, Achar and Pyaz
The service was prompt, did not take them long to seat us and feed us. The total bill was Rs.850 with taxes, but we did not order anything to drink. The best part was that there was not Service Charge on the Bill, comes as such a pleasant respite these days.
All in all, I would not and cannot say if its the top or the best or most. Its typical Delhi food and if you are looking for subtle or exotic, this may not be the place for you. However all I can tell you is that whatever I ate there, tasted very nice, it is something I will recommend if you like rich food, and if you like rich food, this place is worth making a trek to, from any part of the town. Something I would be going back for, for sure.
Address : Mughal Mahal,
7, Sethi Bhawan, Rajendra Place, New Delhi
(Opposite East Patel Nagar’s Subway)
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Best Butter Chicken in Delhi – By Rajeev Gulati

After sampling 13 restaurants across Delhi, and spending more than Rs 13,000 each jury member, the jury has concluded …

BUTTER CHICKEN HUNT RESULTS

 (Conducted by DGC РDelhi Gourmet Club)

After sampling 13 restaurants across Delhi, and spending more than Rs 13,000 each jury member (because we followed the old-fashioned tasting panel rule of ordering the dish being tested at the end of an entire meal, rather than tasting only that dish and nothing else), the jury has concluded that INVITATION, Ashok Vihar, and MUGHAL MAHAL, Rajendra Place, are joint winners of the Certificate of Excellence.

Their butter chicken preparations are classics: the quality of the tomato used is perfect, so the gravy is neither too sour nor too sweet; the butter and cream have been intelligently deployed so as not to smother the masala; and the chicken hasn’t just been dunked into a pre-assembled gravy, but taken out of a tandoor and then added, its smokiness and juices adding character to the gravy.

Here are the detailed results in order of ranking (THE SCORES ARE OUT OF 50 and we judged according to the following parameters:

‚óŹ Presentation
‚óŹ Serving Temperature
‚óŹ Quality of Chicken
‚óŹ Taste of Gravy
‚óŹ Quality of Accompaniments

Individual Scores :

Invitation: 38.5
Mughal Mahal: 37.75
Moti Mahal (GK-I): 35.5
Mini Mughal (GK-II): 32.5
Havemore (Pandara Road): 30
Kwality (CP): 29
Chicken Inn (Pandara Road): 28.25
Embassy (CP): 28
Minar (GK-I): 25.8
Dhaba (Rajouri Garden): 24.5
Moti Mahal (Malchal Marg): 21.5
Minar (CP): 20.25
Bhape da Hotel (CP): 15.5

We must profusely thank our most consistent jury members:

Atul Mohan; Vikram Bali; Puneeta Chadha Khanna; Vivek Vaid; Rajeev Gulati; Avininder Singh; Siddharth Gupta; Rocky Mohan.

Atul Sikand and Sanjiv K. Singh retired hurt after the first round.

We must also thank Sumit Goyal of Food & Nightlife Magazine and Pawan Soni of Indian Food Freak from joining us on the opening night and validating our judging process.

Written by Rajeev Gulati