Food

The elusive Champaran meat!

DELECTABLE AFFAIR Champaran mutton and chicken

DELECTABLE AFFAIR Champaran mutton and chicken   | Photo Credit: 24dmc Rahul3

Dishes offered at Masala Queen help in breaking the stereotypes associated with Bihari cuisine

I try to wriggle out of situations when I am asked to judge a food contest. Food likings, as I have often said, are subjective. But several years ago, when the organisers of a street food festival in Delhi almost sat on my head, I gave in and went and judged the festival.

It was an eye-opener. I ate a lot of good stuff, but the one that I recall vividly — and it won the first prize as well — was the Bihari meat dish there. It was delicious, and ever since I have been looking out for this dish.

Garlic bulb

Say Bihari food, and the image that pops up in your mind is that of litti-chokha. I like that as well, but what truly makes my mouth water is the State’s lamb curry. It’s not a rich dish, like a korma, but is a delightful combination of disparate flavours. What gives it its characteristic taste is a garlic bulb that is cooked with the meat. The garlic is whole yet nice and soft when the curry gets ready. You squeeze it and mix the pulp with the rice and gravy, and get a sweet and sharp twist that gives the dish its special taste.

It was because of this fascination for Bihari mutton that I had been searching high and low for a place where I could get some. There are a few Bihar food eateries and restaurants in town, but then I heard about a place in Indirapuram which I wanted to try out.

The place is called Masala Queen and has branches mostly in the east — including Ghaziabad and Noida. I went to the Indirapuram one, which is in a place called Gulshan Homz Market in Vaibhav Khand. They do home delivery up to Vasundhara and Vaishali (Phone number: 9910909277).

I wanted to have their Champaran meat — also called Ahuna meat. This is cooked with black pepper and desiccated coconut. And, of course, a whole garlic bulb.

Food being prepared in earthenware pots

Food being prepared in earthenware pots  

I found the place with some difficulty. I called them up and two helpful men came on a two-wheeler and took me riding pillion to where my car was parked. And from there, we reached Masala Queen, which turned out to be quite a spacious restaurant.

I could see earthenware pots on log fires. The food is served in a handi, which I have always believed adds to the taste of whatever it contains. I guess it’s the feel of the earth. I mean tea in a kullar tastes so much better than that in Wedgwood, right?

I asked for some Champaran mutton and chicken and meanwhile looked at the menu card. It includes various kinds of Mughlai parathas — with vegetables, egg, chicken, paneer and mutton (₹60-230). It has kathi rolls (₹49-210), chicken and meat curries served with rotis, litti, rice or parathas (₹130-150), litti-choka (₹60) and even Banarasi chai (₹20).

The chicken curry (1 kg) is for ₹790 and the mutton curry (1 kg) for ₹990. And, of course, you can buy a plate of the chicken or mutton dish with your choice of cereals. Chicken with rice or four tawa rotis is for ₹130, meat with lachcha paratha is for ₹170.

I took the handis home and we had a great dinner. The meat curry was excellent, with juicy pieces of lamb in thick gravy flavoured with pepper. And, of course, the garlic!

The chicken was rather good, too, though it was richer than the meat dish. The gravy was again nicely flavoured, and the pieces had been cooked just right.

I am happy that my search for Champaran meat has yielded fruit — or dinner, I should say. And I am happy to have my food served in a mitti ki handiya. Now I think I shall plant something in the empty pot. Possibly a garlic bulb.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 12:40:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/the-elusive-champaran-meat/article22843343.ece

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