The kababs at Al Kauser's Awadhi kabab counter outside Assam Bhawan are utterly delicious

The last few times that I went to Assam Bhawan, I was surprised to find a well-lit kiosk right outside, with a huge crowd in front of it. I was intrigued, but since I had gone there for the singular purpose of digging into an Assamese thali, I didn't make an effort to find out what the line of people was doing there late in the evening.

Then, a few days ago, I heard from a visiting friend that he had eaten some excellent kababs right outside Assam Bhawan. I put two and two together and thankfully reached four. So naturally I had to go and check out the kababs. I went there on the Rakhi day and found it shut because it was a Tuesday. I went back on Wednesday, and was happy to see a huge crowd milling around.

What warmed my heart right then was the fact that it was the original Al Kauser, which was one of the first Awadhi kabab counters to open up on a pavement this side of Asaf Ali Road. It served the most delicious kababs, but unfortunately shut shop after some years. It remained closed for many years – and then opened again at the Vasant Place Market in Ramakrishna Puram. And now, a new branch has opened up in front of Assam Bhawan at the corner of Kautilya Marg. It opens in the evenings, and is officially open from 7 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. It delivers free to areas within three kilometres (Ph: 98101-31859 and 32982383).

The place is humming – with cars parked in front of it, people eating out of cardboard containers right there, and a great many placing orders to carry back home. I looked around and noticed that the Afghani chicken was by far the most popular dish, along with kathis of roomali rotis wrapped around kababs. I decided to forego the chicken and opt for mutton. I asked for a plate of mutton galauti kababs (Rs.175 for four), kakori kababs (Rs.90 for two long seekhs), mutton shahi quorma (Rs.200) and roomali rotis (Rs.10).

I carried all this back home, bravely resisting the temptation of taking a quick bite from the package that smelt like heaven on earth. The wait was worth it, for when I had my first taste of the kakori with a roomali roti, I was floored. The kakori was soft and delicious, nicely spiced and aromatic, and indeed melted in the mouth. The menu card says that 52 spices have been blended to add to the flavours of the kabab. I can't vouch for that, but can tell you that the kabab was indeed very, very good.

The galouti, again, was excellent – neither crumbly, nor chewy, but just rightly cooked. I found the quorma a bit too hot – but no doubt there are people who prefer it this way.

Al Kauser sells biryanis too (vegetarian for Rs.150, chicken for Rs.175 and mutton for Rs.200). A full Afghani chicken is for Rs.250 and the wraps are for Rs.100 or Rs.110. I would have liked to have tried out the fish tikka (Rs.300 for five pieces) – but will go back there for that on another day. As you know, and as the people at Assam Bhawan know too, when I like a place I keep turning up there – quite like the proverbial bad penny!

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