Eating out: Dhaba at The Claridges opens its first standalone branch in New Delhi
Dhaba food has always found its takers in large numbers, be it any part of the country. Those who would usually opt for fine dining in our cities would not mind going for a dhaba experience once in a while. In Delhi and the NCR, you will find many people driving up to a highway to relish a hot meal sitting on a charpoy.
Realising this need, also the fact that dhaba food can be a distinctive cuisine, The Claridges, for the last three decades, has been running Dhaba, a restaurant with a menu that has dishes drawn from the highway eateries but cut out for the fine-diners. I remember dining at Dhaba with my father once every year as a kid.
Now, the brand Dhaba in itself has become big and popular. Riding on it, the hotel has opened a standalone restaurant in the city’s DLF Saket mall. It’s a spacious 100-plus seater. The interiors are traditional yet quirky with some modern element added to it. The trademark truck is present along with the dhaba style open kitchen with achaar jars and copper utensils on display.
The hotel’s Corporate Chef Ravi Saxena who has always been on his toes to get the food right at Dhaba, is the man responsible for the food served in the restaurant too. “But this time, it is very different as it’s altogether a very different format. The pressure is immense and the expectations are high,” says Chef Saxena. It’s hardly a month-old restaurant but even on a Monday one could find families dining, and also celebrating birthday and anniversaries.
As for me, I start with Chef’s choice of starters after hinting him enough about my liking for red meat. What could have been better than the Amritsari tawa chaap? A perfect thin crust and a bite full of flavours. Though the size of the chaap is slightly smaller than the one at the hotel.
It is followed by another tasty delicacy —Amritsari macchi. The popular dish from Punjab is bang on target. Chef Saxena replicates the flavours successfully. Even the seekh kababs are flavourful and succulent.
Chari gobhi needs a bit of seasoning to enhance its achaari flavours.
Starters done, my eyes are twinkling at seeing balti meat which is one of my favourites at Dhaba. I enjoy every bite of it with lacha parantha. The butter chicken is tweaked here, taste good but lacks the creaminess and richness in texture. Even the smoky aroma is missing.
The Chef’s personal favourite, tawa gosht, is a dish to cherish. Nice cast-iron flavour infused into small chunks of tender mutton.
The dal as usual is nice but needs more cream in it. The tawa chicken pulao turns out to be a winner with nice masala rice and juicy chunks of chicken finished on tawa.
I satisfy my cravings for sweets with traditional moong dal halwa and hot gulab jamun topped with rabri.
Meal for two