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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Tee Pee O – A Personal Discovery

I guess it has something to do with the character of person, you develop a liking of certain type of thing and that starts defining your taste in everything in life. And if I have to define that certain type for myself, I would put it as heritage. Anything that comes with a lineage, heritage, a story to tell, attracts and hold my attention. And I say this after considering the kind of bike I ride, cars I like, music I hear and other similar things. And the best part is, it comes naturally to you.
Couple of weeks back I was in Mohan Singh Place, and when I was stepping out, a small shop caught my attention. Yellowing Marbles, metaled counters clearly showed some age and the on the counter was sitting a Paraat of Biryani. Though it managed to grab my attention however that day, and couple of other times, I managed to ignore the allure as it seemed to be place catering primarily to non-vegetarians and seemed to have very limited things, more of canteen style.
The Old School Vessels
Ready to serve

This Saturday, I was in CP area around 11am, and was planning on a brunch. Lot of options were coming to mind, Chhole Bhature at Odeon in Gole Market, a hike to Sita Ram Dewan Chand in Paharganj, Kachoris and Bread pakoras of Hanuman Mandir etc. Then suddenly Kwality came to my mind and I thought it would be a good opportunity to sample their Chhole Bhatures, and given the humidity that day, I could certainly have used an air-conditioner. However as my luck had it, I pushed their door at 11:30 am, and they were closed. So I was again left wondering where to eat, when I went to Mohan Singh Place.

Now I was again standing next to this eatery, that had managed to get my attention on every occasion I have crossed it, a cursory look around and I notice Dal makhani, Shahi Paneer, Kadahi paneer written on its walls, besides other non-vegetarian stuff. Still not the kind of food that I was looking at that morning. And then I got a better view, a view of their dining area, cramped seats with rexine on them, tables with wearing out mica, off-white walls etc. Something that might seem not much to you, however me, I was enchanted. 
Onions with Masala and Chutney looked absolutely fantastic
The menu had not much to differentiate on it from any of the thousands of Punjabi/Mughlai Dhabas all over the city. Their speciality obviously seemed to be Biryani, and I was quite happy to see Egg Biryani on their Menu. So I ordered Egg Biryani, Palak Paneer and a Butter Naan. Immediately after my order, came a small plate of onions and Chutney, with masala on them. Then came the Biryani, the Naan, and Palak Paneer. Being a vegetarian (or rather eggetarian), my experience with Biryani is very limited, however the color, texture and small of it made it seem very good to me. Palak Paneer was different from what we get at most of the Dhabas in Delhi. It was not light green because of use of excessive Cream / Milk / Curd in it, it was dark green and with pieces of fried paneer in it. Coming to naan though it looked small compared to normal butter naan, however it looked well made.
Biryani, I can still smell the Aroma
When it came to taste, I guess it would suffice to say that it was on of those places, which have a flavor of their own and have not been influenced by the richness brigade that has taken over the dhaba food off late. Biryani was non greasy, well spiced, aromatic, if this is what Biryani is supposed to taste like, then I am in love with it. Infact the chutney served with Laccha onion and masala, went very well with it. Naan was as well made as it looked, just the right shade of golden brown and tasted quite nice. Palak Paneer actually reminded me of the one served at Karim’s, I absolutely loved the flavor of it, and tried mixing it with Biryani, which went very well with it.  
Palal Paneer
Butter Naan
I stepped out, and found out this place is called Tee Pee O (though nothing to do with tea :P) and seems to cater to a market dominated by tailors, clothes merchants and their customers. Had a quick chat with Pradeep Arora, who is manning the shop since 1975, which was opened in 1960 by his family. He said that they were the first people to bring the Biryani to New Delhi (I guess earlier it would have been a specialty in walled city itself) and they were quite popular for their Chicken and Muttom variety of the same. Though I have no way of verifying the claim, however from whatever I had, I can surely recommend the place and I am definitely going back again. We might organize a Raid very soon, and bring a post about their Non-vegetarian food.
One of the better meals I have had

My Rating : 3.5 / 5
Prices – Paid around Rs.215 for whatever I had.
Location : Mohan Singh Place is between PVR Rivoli and Hanuman Mandir in CP. To reach this place, enter basement of Mohan Singh Place from the side of PVR Rivoli, and it is the first shop on your right.
 

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.