food spot Delhi

A treat in honour of our farmers

The visuals of songs being shared on social media platforms in honour of our tireless farmers last week brought to mind not just the images of the men and women toiling in the field but also a sight that has always gladdened my heart: green and yellow mustard fields.

What does one do when reminded of mustard leaves? Have some sarson ka saag, of course. This is the season for mustard leaves, and big and small eateries have started serving fresh saag with makkey ki roti.

Many years ago, I had gone to a small restaurant in Geeta Colony that was known for its dal and saag. I found out that the dhaba — called ‘Sialkot Vegetarian’ (Pyare Lal) — was still going strong. Also, it delivered food through delivery apps.

I ordered a plate of its special dal fry chana (₹120 for half a plate), malai kofta (₹120 for a half plate) and sarson ka saag (₹160 for a full plate), with some makkey ki roti (₹25 for one). I had a memorable lunch that day.

Serving since 1950

The restaurant has been around since 1950, set up by the grandfather (the aforementioned Pyare Lal) of the present owner. The eatery, Manager Raju tells me, focuses on fresh, high quality ingredients, and that trait, more than anything else, explains the good taste of the dishes. The chana dal’s delicious flavours, for instance, had a lot to do with the quality of the dal, as well as the ripe red tomatoes that went into the tadka, with onions. The dal had been cooked just right — it was neither too mushy nor too hard — and the tempering, with butter, added considerably to the taste.

I enjoyed the malai kofta too. The koftas were soft but not crumbly. The paneer, clearly, was of good quality. The small dumplings had a sweet taste, which I rather liked. And the gravy, thickened with a paste of nuts, went well with the rotis.

The icing on the cake, of course, was the saag. It had been cooked really well, and had been mildly tempered with garlic, ginger and green chillies. The ghee, again, gave it a twist, blanketing the mashed leaves with a mild fragrance. The rotis, though cooked in a tandoor, were soft, and ably complemented the saag and the dal. Each dish was enough for three, and there was some left over for dinner as well.

If you plan to drop in at Pyare Lal’s, here are the directions. While going towards Jheel from Radhu Palace, you’ll go past a place called Khureji. Move on, and you will find yourself in Geeta Colony. Ask for a neighbourhood called Shivpuri. The dhaba is right there.

When I went there 12 years ago, a plate of dal came for ₹20, and, if cooked in butter, for ₹50. The price has gone up considerably since then, but the taste is as good as ever.

After the last bite of the roti and sarson ka saag, I put my hands together for our farmers — a gesture of gratitude for those untiring hands.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 12:40:14 AM |

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