Inside KFC – For a Kitchen Tour

I love kitchens be it industrial, commercial, hotel, restaurant, home or even that tiny one at a roadside kiosk! I have this keen curiosity to see what is happening behind those closed doors to prepare some delicious food. So recently when we got the invite to attend the KFC Kitchen Tours and sneak inside their kitchen to see how such yummy food is cooked- I was super excited to unravel some closely guarded secrets. Also for such big chains you assume some big machines and rocket science must be involved to dish out food at lightening fast speed with consistent taste every single time! But then I was in for some surprises, not only they have some sophisticated equipment but also innate human involvement.
Fiery Grilled Chicken
For the matter of fact I was informed that anyone can walk into any of the 345 KFC kitchens across the country to see how Chefs marinate real chicken pieces in some exotic herbs & spices, hand bread it and fry it fresh in real time. The only condition being you aren’t allowed to carry your mobile phones, bags, watch or any form of jewelry. This claim itself instills lot of trust, that nothing special or for show is done when they are inviting people like me to have a sneak peak!
Chicken Zinger, Fiery Grilled Chicken and some Drinks
As I expected we were asked to cover our heads and beards (if any) with a hair net and then wash our hands with soap and hot water and finish it up with a sanitiser – all this is done using handsfree taps to ensure no bacteria is transmitted.
It was heartening to see how KFC has especially taken special measures in India to segregate the veg and non veg section to honor our religious sensibilities. The kitchen not only has dedicated sections with different fryers, utensils but also exclusive workforce and come what may no trespassing is allowed. The kitchen staff has different colored uniforms just to ensure no mingling happens.
I was also impressed with the fact that how the deep freezer area had two door handles- one for the staff working with vegetarian food items and other for the non vegetarian food items. And of course these handles are sanitized lot of times during the day to keep the contamination away. The KFC guys surely know how finicky we Indian can be 😉
This visit has also put my many apprehensions to rest, especially that chicken used at KFC is mutated, lab grown and injected with steroids. To my pleasant surprise, I saw how only 100% real Farm Bred Frozen Chicken pieces were being freshly marinated in their secret spice mix, hand breaded and fried within two minutes to avoid any contamination. The chicken is also cooked at a minimum temperature of 100 degree Celsius to ensure that it is properly cooked and is safe for human consumption. I hope in the times to come they start using Free Range Chicken. But thank God no reconstructed meat was being used. We were also told how only a bird/chicken of specific weight is used for a dish and how each piece of chicken goes through 34 quality checks to ensure only the best reaches our plate. 
Fries, Strawberry Krusher, Chicken Popcorns and very delicious Paneer Zinger
They source their chicken from some of the most reputed players in the country – mainly Venky’s, Godrej and Suguna and use whole pieces of leg, breast, rib, wings or thigh meat for different dishes on the menu.
I always assumed  that their chicken popcorns are made from the wastage or the leftover bits and pieces but was enlightened by their Chief of Food Innovations that whole pieces of boneless chicken are cut down into bite size chunks and some exotic spices are used to make one of their most popular dish.
They use only fresh vegetables for the burgers, wraps etc. No preserved or frozen vegetables are used. Oh if like me you disregarded their Alphonso Burst Krusher on the assumption that fruit preserve or some artificial essence is used then you are in for a surprise – they use only real chunks of Alphonso mangoes, no wonder it is so tasty and refreshing! I still don’t know how calories dense is it, considering tonnes of sugar goes into it 😉
Fries with different dips, Krushers and Original Crispy Chicken
It was fascinating to see how well developed and defined their processes are, which leave no scope for goof ups. Having spent some good amount of time in a restaurant kitchen I know it for a fact how easily hygiene standards can be maintained if proper processes are in place. 
Honestly I am not a regular at the KFC and this was my visit after a really long time. I was really impressed with all the new products they have added to the menu keeping in mind the Indian palette and if you haven’t tried their Paneer Zinger as yet then you are surely missing something- it was super tasty with a thick slice of Paneer doused in masalas that remind you of Paneer pakoras. We also tried their new OMG Burger which has a disk of Omelette, Molten Cheese and Golden potato hash brown all sandwiched between super soft buns for just Rs. 59. 
I love their fiery grilled chicken and once again it was done to perfection, if you enjoy spicy Indian flavors then you will surely relish this. Of course I enjoyed all this and much more while chatting with their Chief Food Innovations and realized how high quality standards are maintained right from procuring the healthiest meat from the farms to the state of the art cooking processes to the  brilliant packaging. 
This experience was quite an eye opener for me and has put lot of perceived notions to rest! We might perceive and say how industrial or assembly line sorta food they serve but the truth of the matter is lot of love, care and personal attention goes into making that fingerlickin’ fried chicken. It might not be the lowest calorie food you will ever eat, but it sure is hygienic 😉

Here is an advertisement video by KFC which makes the claim of separate Vegetarian and non-vegetarian areas official too. 

Qureshi’s Kebab Corner – Dhaba comfort in South Delhi

Lot of my friends who live in South of Delhi, specially near the Greater Kailash (1 & 2), Kailash Colony, CR Park, Kalkaji etc. have been recommending Qureshi’s for their non-vegetarian food. So this Saturday some of us food lovers from Eatlo decided to visit the place and see what their food was all about.
Here are some of the dishes that we savored and my views on them :
  • Chicken Malai Tikka – When you say Chicken Malai Tikka the first thing that comes to my mind is the one served at Art of Spices in Rajendra Nagar / Karol Bagh area, which is white in color, melt in mouth and topped with grated cheese. However at most places when you order a Malai Tikka they serve you a Chicken Tikka which is then wrapped or coated with a white thing which they want us to think is Malai. Now these two are the extreme ends, most incredible to most pathetic. The one we had at Qureshi’s was different, this was tender & juicy, however had a bite – both in texture and spices. Loved it.
Chicken Malai Tikka
  • Chicken Tikka – Now this was not too different from the Malai Tikka we ate before this one, the only difference that I could figure out was in texture or bite the pieces offered, but then that again can be my drunk imagination trying too hard to find a difference. That essentially means that even Chicken Tikka is quite awesome, do try it.
Mutton Seekh Kebab
  • Mutton Seeth Kebabs – First things first – they were not frozen and these days that is more than half the battle won. I mean most of the food joins buy those frozen seekhs from meat shops and then sell them for seekh kebabs. But these were not the frozen ones and were made of fresh grounded meat with proper spices. That lends them a character of their own, and I am sure those who know and appreciate their seekh kebabs would end up appreciating these.
Mutton Burra
  • Mutton Burra – Have not eaten this at many places, had two pieces of it here at Qureshi’s, one seemed to be underdone while the other seemed to be cooked properly and I enjoyed eating it. Again the kick of spices was every apparent and everyone on the table savored the dish.
Afghani Chicken
  • Afghani Chicken – A dish as per the expectations. Well grilled chicken which was coming off the bone with your fingers, loaded with cream, curd and other spices. Loved the flavors of this one. That said, Afghani chicken sold in Delhi is no where to close what they would eat in Kabul, a place where food is quite bland. Afghani Chicken is a name given to another rendition of creamy chicken in Delhi by us Delhiites. Some just do it better than the rest, and Qureshi seems to be among the better ones. 
Mutton Rogan Josh
  • Mutton Roghan Josh – All this while I thought Roghan meant Desi Ghee and Josh meant heat. unfortunately this dish had none. And under-cooked mutton pieces was like adding insult to the injury. 
Mutton Korma
  • Mutton Korma – Ummm.. under-cooked mutton in some thick creamy gravy which was slightly sweet. This one was like adding injury to an insult.. >_<
Tawa Chicken
  • Tawa Chicken – Saving grace of the main courses, this was the pick of the lot. Well grilled chunks of chicken dunked in a rich gravy with chunky vegetables. Would not benchmark it with other Tawa Chickens that I have eaten, this one was delicious in its own right. 
Chicken Biryani
  • Chicken Biryani – The MOST pathetic Biryani I have ever eaten. Period. Flavorless, tasteless, served with nothing on the side. But then the chutney that they serve is almost as good as raita and no that is not a complement for their chutney. 
Chutney, which was more like a Raita. 
Assorted Breads – Decent Quality
The place itself is located on the front side of a commercial market in a residential area, where they have some tables outside, they also have a well made air-conditioned seating area upstairs. Given its location its a favorite eating haunt of people who are going to party in one of the upscale markets nearby or are coming back from some party. 

For me, the Chicken dishes definitely did a lot better than their Mutton dishes which was contrary to our expectations. Their food is on the rich and spicy side, generally speaking I would not complain about that and I am sure it would go very well with Chicken and Paneer dishes, however adding cream to mutton dishes just killed it. By the quality of their starters, I am sure they would be serving decent rolls and seeing Butter Chicken on other tables I am tempted to go back for it. 
Overall this place is an Oasis in Good North Indian Dhaba food deprived South Delhi, and would serve as a very good option when you are in the area. Its a place that I look forward to visit again. 
Don’t expect much from the serving staff, that said, the food does come fast. We paid Rs. 5000 for 8 of us but we ordered multiple portions of several dishes. 
Its located in Narmada Market, Opposite Don Bosco School in GK2 area. They have another outlet in South Extension area, which you can Google up.

Food Enthusiasts of Delhi & Shashank Aggarwal own the copyrights of all pictures and content. To use pictures OR content in any way commercially OR non-commercially connect with shashank@foodenthusiastsofdelhi.com.

The Carnivore Carnival – Ramzan Walk in Old Delhi

If you have been born and brought up in Delhi, chances are that the memories of evenings spent with family at the melas or carnivals of the “pre-mall” days, occupy a very important part of your childhood nostalgia. Remember the old feeling when your feet are screaming for a break from all the walking – but instead your eyes, filled with excitement, refuse to listen, and keep on pulling you towards the next attraction?? That was exactly how I was feeling today at Jama Masjid, and all the joy-rides were for my taste-buds.
Our gang of FED’s got together at the Chawri Bazaar metro station, and we started walking through the small eateries mainly catering to the Chawri Bazaar businessmen and the local residents. Until we reached the Jama Masjid area, the fare was only vegetarian, and rightly so, because had we gone straight to the other part, our vegetarian friends would have run away at the very beginning.
My narration starts forms the part 2 of our FED walk, or as I like to call it “The Carnivore Carnival”.
 
Ramzan or Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, during which, participating Muslims strictly refrain from eating food and even water during the daylight hours. It is only after sunset that they are allowed to take their first sip of water of the day. The fast breaking meal of the day is known as Iftar, which traditionally starts with the ceremonial eating of three dates, just as Prophet Muhammad used to do.
We were at the area called Matia Mahal which is the lane leading in towards the market opposite gate no: 1 of the Jama Masjid entrance. And since It is the holy month of Ramzan, we were there to join in on the celebrations. When we entered the lane, we couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the festive energy of the place. The joyful spirit instantly overpowers as you are drawn into the labyrinth of lights, colors, and best of all the succulent aroma of wonderful food.
Our first halt was at a biryani vendor, he had two different types of biryanis, the Chicken and beef (or as they called it “Bade ki Biryani”). Both of them tasted nice as they were cooked very well. But I must admit that this guy’s biryani was not the best one of the evening.
Twenty steps further into the lane was a grilled chicken outlet, I think its name was Aslam Chicken Corner. This guy is basically sitting on the street with a huge tawa, at-least 3 ft in diameter, full of marinated chicken breast pieces, and a small grill besides it. The Chicken was juicy and simply amazing, even though it was drenched in yellow butter, the taste was perfectly balanced with all the spices used in marinating it. At Rs. 65 for a skewer with 7 pieces it was just awesome.

 

Here, I met a few local youth, (who for some reason were convinced that I was from London and not Delhi ??) I asked one of them about his favorite food in the lane and he recommended a Chicken Biryani place and pointed out to the outlet. I’m glad I followed the dude’s advice.
The biryani here was out-standing, much better than the earlier place, it was cooked to perfection with each individual strand perfectly separated, and the aroma was a flawless melody of spices. The quality of rice they used was nothing like what I have ever seen before, each grain was at least half an inch long. The guy sitting at the Deg (the biryani vessel) told me that only a very special type of rice will make the biryani taste this good. This guy even had us try some of his Korma which was again great. I love mixing a little korma with my biryani.
 Also, adjoining this place was an outlet making Rotis and Sheermals. We were tempted to try the sheermal and they were superb. It is a flat bread which is mildly sweet and only slightly glazed and cooked in a tandoor. They too would have been a perfect accompaniment with the Korma.
All the food had me craving for a nice cool drink, and at that moment had I wished for something else, it would definitely have been granted. Just a couple of shops down the lane I saw something spectacular. This shop had a giant soda vending machine which had every flavor imaginable on offer. They had at least 15 different varieties of soda ranging from Leeche to Mango, Blueberry to Strawberry, you name it, and the taste was surprisingly commendable. We guys went crazy with delight. Seriously, I wasn’t kidding about the Mela part.
Up next I met the happiest food vendor I’ve seen in my whole life. This guy (who by the way had a striking resemblance with the actor Randeep Hooda.. see pic) was just so jubilant. He served us with an energy that was both entertaining and inspiring with a smile as big as the old city, and this was besides the fact that he was super-busy. He was selling this unique sharbat made with water, milk, Roohafza plus little chunks of watermelon added in the mix. It was only mildly sweet, delicious and totally refreshing.
Right next to this jolly fellow was a guy selling different curries out of a cart, now, how often do you get to see stuff like that? We asked him to give us a plate each of all his non-veg preparations. He set up a small table for us and sent us Hari Mirch Keema, Magaz (Brain) Curry, Mutton Korma, Dal Meat and Bade Ka Salan. We all had our favorites, mine was the Korma but the Magaz was the first one to be wiped off.

You have to pardon me for not giving you any names as these places are known more by their food and location. Most of them have been sitting at the same place selling the same food for decades without choosing any name for their outlet. In order to find them all you need to do is start walking into the lane and go on exploring.

To finish off, we decided to culminate the evening at the outlet which has made the Jama Masjid area food famous all over the world, we ended up at Karim’s. This place is an institution in itself. To reach there we had to walk back to the entrance of the lane where the very first Karim’s is located. It opened originally in the year 1918 (I think) and they have been putting smiles of people’s faces ever since.

We are all too familiar with Karim’s food, as any foodie worth his salt would be, so we just ordered a few of our favorites. In fact, I doubt if the majority of their visitors even look at their Menu card before ordering.

We had their Burra Kebabs, Nihari, Keema and Seekh Kababs. I even wanted to have the Raan which is the roasted whole leg of the goat but it was sold out, sadly.

The Burra is their most famous and popular preparation. It is made of pieces of goat meat marinated in their secret mix of spices and then slow cooked in the tandoor. The meat is soft and it melts in the mouth within a few bites, perfect. I could eat it all day.

The Nihari is again a goat meat preparation and is more popular during Ramzan. The gravy is very rich and creamy, again with a lot of spices added to create Magic. We finished off with the famous Phirni which is their version of kheer.

The food is no doubt very heavy with all the spices and Ghee, but, I feel, that is the essence of Mughlai food. After eating so much I’m glad I walked all the way back till New Delhi railway station, where I had parked.

When it comes to working with red meat, the Muslim chefs have definitely written the book on the subject. It will always be their art. I just hope their younger generation takes on the reins so we can continue savoring the delights as their art of cooking is passed on from generation to generation.
One last word on the prices. Karim’s by all standards is priced like any other mid-priced restaurant, Meal for two between Rs. 600 to Rs. 800 range. But the outlets outside on the street are all in the very affordable category, dishes range from Rs. 50 – Rs. 75 on average, and I reckon one can have a royal feast for well under Rs. 200.

Going to Jama Masjid for food is always joyful, but being there during Ramzan, is unlike any regular experience. The positivity, jubilation and the merriment that is so prevalent, just multiplies the flavor of the food fiesta.