The Nizam from New Market…

So why is this about New Market and Nizams? Because this one is about wafting memories that have since floated down  from the legendary open market in Kolkata, right down to the suburbaness that is Andheri West. This one is about the memory of singing along with Shahrukh in his Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaoon, from the much overlooked Yes Boss from a matinee at Roxy to move towards the back alleys of New Market to the food mandala that resides there. Ah yes – fresh out of Elite, guiltily enjoying the tackiness of one of the foremost creature films that hit India : Anaconda – The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (oh yes, I liked it! I am man enough in admitting it! ), and then moving almost in default – to that institution called Nizams. The rolls – the heavenly rolls. The porotha , yielded by flour, fried lovingly in oil, splattered with the fried chillies, onion and other madness, filled with red juicy nuggets of mutton cubes- tossed in marinade of a hundred recipes, and then garnised with lemon squeeze and sauces. Served hot! Or the biriyani – mutton biriyani! Grains of basmati – glittering in saffron-yellow sunshine, bristling lightly in ghee (not too much), married with a plethora of spices, adorned with a piece of potato and the egg and then  digging deep and you find those chunks of lamb – tender and sumptious… all served with the lemon wedges, slit chillies and onion rings (although given the current scenario, the onion may be a disappearing number). Ah yes – Nizaams biriyanis and rolls, served in the New Market Mohalla , in a the communal table or the curtained private ‘femily room‘ – depending on if you are with your fresh love of school (‘female party’ as uttered by the liveried waiters) or your gang of dudes from your neighbourhood! Good times of Kolkata!

This post is not about Nizams. Or New Market. But its about rediscovering rolls and Kolkata style biriyani in the town of Andheri West, in Mumbai.

A few years back, when my mind and pallette was suffering from withdrawal pangs of how the Kolkata roll was diminished by the hugely overhyped (and may I add grossly inferior) Frankie in Mumbai nagariya, Rahul and another ex- colleague of mine from STAR, Sayan – told me about this cart joint called Bhimas in Andheri West, that apparently served up rolls Kolkata style.

 ‘Go for it – Almost like Kolkata rolls’ Sayan said

‘You dont have to speak much modon, this guy just hands out the stuff. No chitchatting.  Its more of the silent strong treatment type. Do your business and leave ‘ said Rahul! (I had this overwhelming feeling that I was a dog being trained!!)

‘Where exactly is it?’ I asked salivating

‘ Its close to the Andheri gurudwara…” said Rahul and Sayan in chorus, knowing fully well that I am a newbie in Mumbai and would have no clue where this aforementioned gurudwara would be.

( And then Rahul went back to ragging me, the lowly management trainee I was then!… Good times! ) 

Fresh in Mumbai then, and goaded by the promise of a Kolkata Nizaam reverie, I had gallivanted to the haven to taste the delight. Let it be known now, it was ok- decent, given that nothing of the sorts existed in Mumbai anywhere else. I happily gorged on a few and there in hangs a tale!

Now , its been 4 years in Mumbai and I have shifted base in Andheri West from Santacruz. One sultry evening, while passing down Oshiwara, I noticed this non descript road-side stall ambitiously titled Kolkata Konnection. The Karan Johar nomenclature form aside, it drew my heart strings! Could it be a roll shop which borrows more from the city rather than just a name? I explored.

” They say you will forget Shiraz and Nizaam rolls after you have ours”, ambitously proclaimed the owner (incidentally he is not a Bengali). I tried it, and from therein lies the basis of this post.

Kolkata Konnection is truly a slice of life Kolkata rolls. Made in the same style as I have grown up seeing in Babughat, Park Street , Lindsay or any of those nook and corners of Kolkata,  there arrived the white paper wrapped Indian tortilla, stuffed generously with irregular cubes of juicy chunky meat, with sauteed onions and chillies, smacked with sauces. There is also, I suspect, a dash of chat masala along with the mandatory lemon squeeze. Freshly from the tawa, it was handed to me , a beckoning of sorts to bite into a promise. So I did! It was – well- Kolkata taste buds all over again. Not the Nizaam fare, not the Shiraaz fare, but still pretty darn good… I am a person who believes in excess, so I had ordered the double egg mutton roll. Loved every lip smacking part of it!

I succumbed. Kolkata Konnection had me hooked and now a challenge was thrown to taste more. Quickly scrolling down their one pager pamphlet menu, revealed all kinds of chop-cutlets, biriyanis, gravy accompaniments, and surprise of surprises – Moghlai Porotha. I decided that the biriyani should  be put to test.

A word on Mumbai biriyanis. So this rice artifice that goes by the misnomer of biriyani in Mumbai is not – lets face it – what it should be. Any self respecting fellow who has tasted the real fare in Shiraz or in Dilli Darbar will know what the Lucknowi Biriyani is all about. Its not a pulao wearing multi coloured hues, not adorned with paraphernalia like dry fruits and doesnt have a dump of masala with the meat safely ensconced in the bottom. And the biggest piece of deceit – they dont have the aloo! No siree – that aint biriyani the way its meant to be! Its just not cricket!

But here I was, suitably encouraged with the gastronomical delight that was the roll, so the mutton biriyani was the call. Five hungry minutes later, there came the dish laden with the good stuff. A generous mound of rice, smelling divine, with the all important aloo peeking through. The smell itself was sign enough. I jumped into it with unabashed glee. The rice was soft and had absorbed the masala very well, the saffron aroma wafted through in every mouthful, the aloo was perfectly boiled and the mutton – wallahh! not hard at all, not too soft that it loses its texture too soon for you not to enjoy its juices- just perfect! It wasnt too spicy, the flavours of the rice and the meat and the marinade worked together to create this drowning feeling of sumptiousness that was this biriyani. Well done- the battle was won! I was advised by the now-over zealous owner to try it with the Rezala. I did, on a later visit – but that’s another story. Suffice to say, the biriyani in itself was a triumph!

So thats the story about Kolkata Konnection. I have a special account in my name in their home delivery clientele, I also get an extra aloo by special request. So that’s Kolkata Konnection – my walk back to the Nizam and the Shiraz days, to New Market backyard, to ultimatelu a delicous memory. To the good things of life!

Prithvi

PS: I also tried their Moghlai Parotha. Not the best, but will do! There is also Hyanglas in Lokhandwala that serves all of the above. Much has already been spoken about it. While it was good when it first launched, its now slowly on its descent. And their home delivery sucks! (And then it sucks some more!)

Places for Birthday Treats in Gurgaon

I must confess that its a task to figure out places to give treats, everyone is up for a free lunch specially in my team, there are a couple of places in Gurgaon that I would like to call food-joints-esentially-for-treats.

Starting from a name that’s really ALL-THAT-YOU-CAN-EAT experience is Barbeque Nation, its the one stop shop for both veggies as well as non-veggies. But its slightly over exposed over the year [was my find :)] infact, not only have I visited it on ‘official’ purposes but also for personal, my husband freaked out when we went there for dinner, he’s a hard core Kabab Factory Fan. Barbeque Nation is located in Sushant Lok if I may say walking distance from
IFFCO chowk metro station. For a lunch buffet with limited choice of 3/4 snacks its Rs350 per head with beer, soft drinks are extra.

The other one that we went recently to was ‘THE CHOWK’ it’s all you can eat in a different way,it’s basically not for an evolved audience but for people who would like to EAT read hog there. I didn’t find variety but the boys hogged on the two non-veg dishes one of chicken and another mutton with unlimited hot rotis that made the experience atleast, worth while, it was I guess Rs250 per person. Slightly boring for vegetarians with same roti , dal, sabji that you could eat anywhere. What I like about ‘The Chowk’ is that has innovative and bright interiors, its located in MGF.

Another gem of all you can eat for veggie fair is ‘ Rajdhani’ I find it disappointing ,as most people I know are veggies and I do eat my share of veg at home also, so not my choice but ya, its good, located in MGF again.Not so fancy fair but totally veg options, good on pocket are Haldirams and Bikanervala, I have  cravings for chaat, so I don’t mind that too much.

Another place that is not really heavy on the pocket but I  like the food is ‘The Red Hot Cafe’, Thai and Chinese here are good, as per the Indian palette, I really like their spring rolls, you can actually ask them not to fry, so it has a thin outer crust and succulent on the inside and their Pad Thai is good too.

Sushiya, if you like Japanese, now that’s a tough choice for most Indians as Sushi per say is not fulfilling read fills but doesn’t satisfy 🙂 .Their ala carte menu is expensive if you give people a free hand at choosing what they want to eat then you’ve had it but if you are ordering in then Sushi Platters come in alot of variants and Satays are a good option too. You could tie this up Red Hot Cafe and order the good ol’ noodles and manchurien. Can be ordered online as well as on call, I had heard about a restaurant that they had opened in Cyber Greens.

For Italian, Mrs Kaur’s at Sec 30 is a good option, I had gone there for a Saturday lunch from work, now this what I’d like to call Punjabi-Italian, not the right place for people who like to eat roti, sabhji. But veggie selection is good too, their open sandwiches , brownies and spaghetti with meatballs are something I would like to recommend. The service and the delivery is slow so keep ample time before your order.

Last but not the least is the King of all food, ‘Nizam’s Kathi Kebab’ one kebab fills up a normal guy and women usually share 1 into 2 style ;), but apart from the standard kebabs I really like their Keema-Pao, that’s for starters, apart form that everything else is avoidable. Don’t forget to order an aerated drink as the oil kebab really fills you up.

Statuary warning-
This is definitely not an exhaustive list but a list that I usually follow for treats and Saturday lunches. This list is also limited to the vicinity where I work. Let me know what you think about this? In my next list I’d write about the uber cool, slightly expensive but some places that I really really like.