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His visits to the dentist paid off. One evening, returning from the clinic, RAHUL VERMA discovered an authentic biryani maker

Let me tell you it’s not easy to think about food when your mouth is wide open and a gentleman is relentlessly drilling away at your teeth. But then, on the other hand, it keeps your mind away from the sharp-edged, lethal-looking tools that the dentist has been longingly looking at. So, I shut my eyes and thought about biryani. My new dentist is in Mayur Vihar Phase I. I have been going there for some days now to repair all the damage that indiscriminate eating has led to. One evening, when I was returning from the dentist’s, I noticed a man standing by a cart with a huge cauldron of biryani. There was a crowd of people in front of it, so I decided I had to try the biryani out.

The discovery

So, one evening, when my teeth had been suitably dented and repaired, I stopped by at the biryani man’s stall. I got chatting with Mohammed Shakir, and was happy to hear that he gets his chicken biryani from the famous bawarchi, Hakim, in Gali Rodgran in the Lal Kuan area, and then sells it from his Mayur Vihar stand. He also sells chicken korma, which he cooks himself. This was good news for a biryani lover like me. I am very fond of Hakim’s fare, but find it difficult to go to the Walled City every time I get an urge to eat some biryani. Having an extension counter, so to speak, in my neighbourhood is heart-warming.

The problem with biryani is that you have to look for the pearl in a sea of biryani makers. Everywhere you have chaps trying to sell what they call is authentic biryani, but the real thing is difficult to get. I remember there was a man called Bhura who sold the most wonderful biryani in Chitli Qabar. Then, over the years, other men started coming up in the same area with their cauldrons of biryani, and all of them insisted that they were the real Bhura. So, someone who didn’t know Bhura really had no idea who the actual man was, and who were the imitators.

But it’s clear that Mohammed Shakir buys his biryani from Hakim. Everyday, a three-wheeler arrives from Old Delhi with a huge degh. Shakir sits there from 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. or so, and leaves when the biryani and korma are sold out. A kilo of biryani is for Rs. 100, and a plate of korma is for Rs.30. I bought two kilos of biryani, and took a small helping of the korma gravy just to try it out. The biryani was indeed excellent. The rice was grainy and wasn’t the least bit sticky. It wasn’t too spicy, and the chicken pieces were nice and plump. The biryani was a bit oily, the way Delhi biryanis usually are — but that added to the taste. Though I didn’t have the chicken in the korma, the gravy was pretty good.

So, as the sages say, something good comes out of the blackest of clouds. I had been dragging my feet about going to the dentist, but, boy, I am glad I went! I have a little white tooth where there used to be a gap (I kept it like that for many years because somebody once said it looked cute). And, with my teeth intact, I could eat the biryani with great relish. Later, of course, I brushed my teeth diligently.

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