A taste of Dharam

A scene at Garam Dharam Dhaba Te Theka. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma  

Dharmendra is a passionate man. Not just when it comes to his films, family and friends but also about his food. Not routine urban stuff but one he grew up eating at his home and dhabas dotting his hometown of Sahnewal. He still gorges on the hearty Punjabi cuisine at home in Mumbai. And now wants his die-hard fans, always eager to shake a hand or take a selfie with the large hearted actor, to get a taste of authentic desi food – dollops of butter, ghee and vitamins – all responsible for giving him a robust physique which he proudly displayed in umpteen films.

But the actor, proud of his farmer’s lineage and not being dictated by market forces, did not take the first step to have a restaurant bearing his name. It required coaxing, prodding from seasoned restaurateur Umang Tewari to convince the actor to acquiesce to the idea of opening a restaurant on his name.

Appreciating the restaurateur’s enthusiasm, the handsome actor gave his go-ahead. And now stands Garam Dharam Dhaba Te Theka, a theme-based restaurant in the Outer circle of Connaught Place. And if the long queue at the dhaba is any indication Tewari says it was not difficult to get the permission of the gifted actor.

“This restaurant is being run on his name. We are secondary. A big foodie, Dharmendra was thrilled and excited when I broached the subject. He is a legend and understood the implications of this initiative. People wait for long hours just to catch a glimpse of him. The brief from his side was that the food should be cooked in such a way that customers get a feeling that they have tasted maa ka khana.”

(A photograph at Dharam Dhaba Te Theka. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma)

The actor has also spilled secret home recipes used in cooking his favourite dishes like shaljam gosht and chuse ke kabab. His preferences like makke ki roti, palak paneer are there. In Dharamji’s Special menu there is raan Punjabiya di shaan and tandoori baby lamb raan.

Though he too hails from Punjab, Umang did a thorough research work like food tasting at dozens of dhabas, located on highways in Punjab, which are on the wish-list of truck drivers, local residents. “I studied the ambience of interiors and how chefs prepare their favourite dishes,” says Umang, who has partnered with Mickey Mehta.

The six-month survey of dhabas helped Umang design the restaurant’s interiors. He has given the place a combination of rustic and old world look. Wooden panelling and bricks makes one feel sitting inside a dhaba but a cosy one with air conditioning and food cooked in a hygienic environment.

As a business strategy to woo middle-class families, the restaurant is serving dishes at economical rates. So there is Mutton Burra (Rs.195), Dahi ke Kabab (Rs.185), Tandoor Soya Chaap (Rs.185). The marked difference in the pricing makes this place a breed apart from expensive eateries operating in the vicinity.

Since the actor’s fondness for beverages is well known there is lassi in steel glass and shikanji in Banta bottles. For those with preference for hard drinks Indian and imported liquor – commensurate to Patiala peg – are being served in a bar designed like a thekka with all the required paraphernalia.

Interestingly, Dharmendra is all over the place. His memorable pictures reminding one of his heydays and posters of iconic films like Sholay, Chupke Chupke and Pratigya are splashed on the walls. Wearing a Western hat, he surveys the place as well as the customers from high vantage position. In fact, he is all over. Open the menu card and you are greeted with his pictures.

It has interesting nuggets of information – that in his youth Dharmendra trudged long distance to watch Dillagi as it starred his favourite actor Suraiya. And he was such a big fan of the singer-cum-actor, a legend in the subcontinent, that he watched this film over 40 times. Other details that his full name is Dharmendra Kewal Krishan Deol and that he made into films through Filmfare Talent Search, make for the trivia.

As far as judging him by numerical are concerned, he has an envious track record – acted in over 250 films and is the only leading actor who has had 11 films released twice in a year (1973 and 1977).

Replica of famous Jai-Veeru bike instantly reminds one of Sholay when the well-built actor drove the bike with lanky Amitabh Bachchan as the pillion rider. In memorabilia, there are pictures of his with Hema Malini in a section called Dream Girl.

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Printable version | Jul 22, 2021 9:25:27 PM |

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