The calling of korma

Serving thick and aromatic korma, Al Zaiqa is the best bet for korma in Central Delhi

Updated - March 29, 2016 03:16 pm IST

Published - August 14, 2015 07:24 pm IST

15dmc rahul1

15dmc rahul1

The good thing about social media is that it connects you with like-minded people. Among the many food groups that I belong to is one called Chowder Singh. It was there, a few days ago, that co-foodie Mohit Balachandran mentioned a kormawallah right in the heart of central Delhi.

I have often said that the best kormas are to be found in Old Delhi, or in a restaurant ironically called Purani Dilli in the Zakir Nagar area. But one of my missions is to find a good korma seller in central Delhi. Last week, I tried out the korma in a small shack on Rajendra Prasad Road. It was, as I mentioned in my column, not bad at all. The problem was that there was no mutton korma when I was there, and chicken is not a meat that I am really fond of. Then, a few days ago, Balachandran informed us about a small shop in Palika Bazaar.

I can’t remember when I last went to Palika Bazaar. When our VCR came long years ago, I did go to a particular shop there which had the best of world cinema. I don’t think I went back there after that. My memories of Palika Bazaar actually go back to the time when the underground market was still to come up. In its place was the Indian Coffee House, and next to it was a nice restaurant called Rambles.

But that was then. This week I drove up to CP, parked my car and walked into Palika Bazaar from the entrance that connects CP’s inner circle to Janpath. I was in search of Al Zaiqa (address: Shop no S 7, Mini Market, Palika Bazaar). I asked around for – and was directed to – shop no 194 in the main market. In front of that is a small alley. You’ll find Zaiqa right there. The restaurant has been around for 17 years and is run by Kale Bhai and Dilshad (Mobile nos: 9871919998 and 9650715370).

I had a look at the menu and was happy to see that mutton figured prominently on it. One plate of mutton korma (with four pieces) is for Rs. 260; half a plate for Rs.130. Mutton biryani is Rs. 160 or Rs. 80 for half. Chicken korma full is for Rs. 200 and half for Rs. 100 and chicken biryani for Rs. 100 or Rs. 60 for half. They sell kharorey (trotters) for Rs. 70, soup for Rs. 20 and three khamiri rotis for Rs 20. The food is transported in degchis from somewhere near Turkman Gate.

Kale Bhai made me taste a bit of the mutton biryani, which I enjoyed. But I was in the mood for korma, so I asked for three plates to be packed. Two were had for lunch with friends, and one was kept safely under lock and key to be taken home for dinner.

The korma was excellent. The pieces were large, but had been very well cooked. The gravy was simply delicious — thick, aromatic and tasty. For reasons that I couldn’t quite fathom, I had my korma gravy at home with four slices of white bread, two of them toasted. The bread soaked in the gravy and the oil, and I loved it.

Last week, when I wrote about Harman’s korma, a group of four intrepid (and hungry) men who work in the neighbourhood went looking for it. It was raining that day, so I am not sure they found it. I would suggest that they go a little further in search of Al Zaiqa’s. It is the best korma that you’ll get in central Delhi. Thank you, Chowder Singh!

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