Old Hindi film music and traditional Indian food go lovingly hand-in-hand at Khaaja Chowk
The elevator that would take me to Khaaja Chowk was temporarily suspended - pun intended. You know how gizmos these days are so unreliable, so I endure the three flights of stairs which is made easier by the friendly smile of the guard on the second floor and the gaily coloured pop art that welcomes you into Khaaja Chowk.
“Kahin pe nigahein, kahin pe nishaana”, I sang along with the olden goldie, settled down and took the place in.
The walls were covered with kitsch posters and banners with the mandatory grammatical errors and Indianisms. It keeps you engaged till they bring the mint khaaja. In the afternoon heat the refreshing drink was the water that flowed out of the rock and the manna that fell from the sky.
“Zara hatke, zara bachke, yeh hain Mumbai meri jaan”, I roll up my sleeves and ready, set, go - Khaaja Ki Chaat, the chaat platter arrives. And for all you immigrants who have complained about how chaat in Bangalore is never as good as it is back home, eat your heart out. You will write home about the kabab platter and you will tell maa-ji about the assorted pieces of succulent chicken and mutton marinated in masalas, yogurt ad cheese. The chicken burra and the kasturi chicken are my favourite, what's yours?
Hunt out the fig
“Musafir hoon yaaron, na ghar hain na thikana”, And if you are vegetarian, make sure you ask for the paneer, not because it is the only option you have, but because it is paneer brought in from Dilli, and it is soft and melts in your mouth like it is supposed to. The hariyali kabab is a cake of green peas, spinach and a layer of fig hidden somewhere in between.
“Yaaaa-hoo! Chaahe koi mujhe jungli kahein”, main course was brought in with a bowl of steaming, scented, Basmati rice leading the troop. To this add one spoon of Bibi ki daal and another of rara ghosht and then I take a deep breath and a break before I carry on. The yellow moong daal is perfect. And the rara gosht translates onto your plate as cuts of lamb cooked in a rich kheema gravy.
“Chal, chal, chal mere haathi, mere saathi”, loosen drawstrings and belt buckles as I prepare to demolish the chicken biryani that is cooked in a matka. The clay pot that it is cooked in lends the rice and meat that has been marinated in Lucknawi masalas an earthy flavour.
“Mera joota hai Japaani, yeh patloon inglishthani”. It is time for rabri khaaja or rocket kulfi — it doesn't matter what you choose, although I would recommend the rabri khaaja, lacchedar crunchy papdi, soaked in sugar syrup and topped with cold rabri. The kulfi is milky, sweet and tastes like pistachios and cream and it comes with a tacky, plastic flower which they let you keep!
“Acha ji mein haari chalo maan jao na”, I take my leave, the elevator is working, I take the stairs.
Visit Khaaja Chowk on the 3rd Floor, #276, 100 Feet Road, Defence Colony, Indiranagar. Call 40920585/87.