Tried and Tasted: At Rehmatullah Hotel in Old Delhi, feed yourself and also the needy
Anybody who wants to feed the needy can buy food packets worth Rs 20. Each packet contains two large rotis and a bowl of buffalo meat korma.more lifestyle Updated: Oct 15, 2017 09:01 IST
In these festive times, while moving from one grand feast to another, one should pause for a moment to think of those not so fortunate. And there are good Samaritans who are doing just that. Not only during festivities, but every day.
Located near Jama Masjid, a restaurant called Rehmatullah Hotel (locally known as Garib Hotel) feeds the hungry through the year. Anybody who wants to feed the needy can buy food packets worth Rs 20. Each packet contains two large rotis and a bowl of buffalo meat korma.
At Rehmatullah, you can have a full meal for less than Rs 100. I have known its owner, Fazalur Rehman, for many years; he is a genial host who loves to feed people. The restaurant doesn’t have too many items on the menul; it’s mostly curries and biryani cooked with buffalo meat, called bada, or with chicken. The buff dishes – biryani, nihari, ishtu, korma, keema and dal gosht– are for Rs 30 a plate. Chicken biryani is for Rs 40 and chicken nihari, for Rs 50. Imagine these prices in today’s day and age.
The idea of chicken nihari intrigues me, for the dish is usually cooked with red meat. It’s a wonderful dish, where the shanks are cooked on low heat for a few hours or till the meat melts into a deliciously gooey mash.
I am very fond of the keema and often enjoy a plate of buffalo meat keema at Rehmatullah. The meat is hand chopped (just the way I like it) and cooked in whole spices and red chillies. It reminds me a bit of a certain keema curry recipe that my friend Salimbhai, another old Delhi resident, often uses. To me, the texture of the keema makes all the difference – if it’s too finely minced, the meat blends with the curry, and while that does give the gravy a kick, it‘s not quite keema.
The best part of Rehmatullah Hotel is that the prices will never burn a hole in your pocket. You can eat to your heart’s content, and have enough money left over to take a rickshaw to the Jama Masjid metro station. Somewhere en route, you can even stop by for a bit of dessert or a paan.
This is what makes Old Delhi so vibrant. You can eat something savoury, something sweet, spend just a fraction of what you would in a restaurant in most parts of Delhi, and come back home happy with the hospitality of friends. Food, after all, is not just about eating.
RECIPE: Salimbhai’s keema
Ingredients: 1 kg mutton keema, hand chopped, 200 g finely chopped onion, 1 tbsp garlic paste, 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 ½ tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 ½ tsp red chilli powder, 4 slit green chillies, 3 tbsp yoghurt, Salt to taste, 2 tbsp oil or ghee, 5 black peppercorns, 3 black cardamoms, 1 stick of cinnamon, 5 cloves, 1 bay leaf.
Method: Mix everything well. Put the mixture in a pressure cooker and cook till two whistles. Wait for the lid to open. Now keep frying, till the keema is dry and you get the aroma of ghee. Serve with parathas.
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