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Preserving a tradition

india Updated: Feb 17, 2007 02:15 IST

It’s been a city landmark for more than 75 years. From a roadside dhaba to a popular restaurant, Kake-Da-Hotel has come a long way from its early beginnings in Lahore. Located on the outer circle of Connaught Place, the restaurant is a favourite with office goers, families and tourists looking for good north Indian culinary fare.

The secret of the restaurant’s success is not hard to trace. Its kitchen secures the oldest recipes of good eating from Lahore. Ashok Kaka, 51, a partner, says he has learnt the tricks of the trade from his father, Amolak Ram Chopra who established the restaurant in Lahore in 1931. During Partition, the family relocated and brought the establishment to Delhi.

The restaurant was first set up opposite the Marina Hotel, next to a taxi stand. “The food was cooked on earthen choolas, empty upturned ghee tins were used as chairs and the century-old recipes of Lahore were put to test then,” says Ashok. In 1948, Kake-Da-Hotel moved again and settled towards the Municipal Market, where it stands today.

Ashok Kaka joined his father’s business in 1969. Being a vegetarian, it was not easy for him to visit the numerous butcher shops early in the morning, in fact, he says, it was ‘almost unbearable’. But times were tough. “My father made me memorise all the recipes. Today without even tasting the meat, I can tell if it is well prepared or not.”

Kake-Da-Hotel continues to use earthen choolas to prepare food in pure ghee with hand ground spices. Its original 12 non-vegetarian dishes – biryani, dahiwala meat and rara meat – remain on the menu along with some new additions like the inevitable butter chicken.

In the early days, the family managed the kitchen and the accounts. Today, they have 40 employees with Captain Arun Chopra, another partner who is at the helm of affairs in the CP outlet.

Email Jairaj Singh: jairajsingh @hindustantimes.com

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