Tried and Tasted: This small eatery in Old Delhi serves yummy kababs for Rs 10
A hole-in-the-wall eatery in Old Delhi serves kababs for Rs 10. Served on a green sal leaf with some tart green chutney, they will have you raring for more.more lifestyle Updated: Jan 28, 2018 08:32 IST
I always wait for it to snow in Kashmir. Not just because it means the weather in Delhi gets wonderfully cold, but also because it means two brothers would be in Delhi, grilling Kashmiri seekh kababs. I first had their kababs many years ago when my friend, Saleem Bhai, had taken me there. I went back to the kabab corner in Old Delhi a few weeks ago but found that they were still back home.
I was luckier last week. I went there, and found the two brothers busy grilling buffalo meat kababs in a small hole-in-the-wall eatery. One was skewering the minced buffalo meat on to the rods, and the other was cooking them in sigris placed in front. The shop has no name, but it is in Bulbuli Khana. It is close to a mosque with an interesting name — Masjid Mashal Chiyan. But you could ask anyone to direct you to the Kashmiri kabab makers, and they will do so.
If you go up from Matia Mahal towards Chitli Qabar, you will find an undulating road on your right. That’s Bulbuli Khana, the other end of which opens up to Bazar Sitaram. It is a wholesale market for beads and trinkets. The brothers — Mohammed Akbar and Mohammed Hussain — have been coming from Anantnag to Delhi every winter for 30 years or so. They come at the end of December and go back in April to Kashmir, where they tend to their fields and grill and sell kababs.
I am greatly fond of their buffalo meat seekh kababs. The coarsely ground meat is spiced and grilled well. The kababs are soft and tasty, and make you want to instantly go back for some more. Each kabab is for Rs 10, and is served with some tart green chutney. And somehow, the fact that the kababs are served in a green sal leaf, I think, adds to the taste.
The brothers tell me that they spice the meat with coriander, green chillies, red chillies, some ginger, garam masala, a special spice known as kut and a garlic called Kashmiri lahsun, which adds its characteristic flavour to the meat. The chutney is prepared with coriander and mint leaves, green chillies, lime juice and dried pomegranate seeds.
The brothers open their grill at around 12.30 pm, and continue till late in the evening, with just a small break when they go for namaaz. In old Delhi, where you mostly get Dilli key kabab, and some Awadhi specialities, it is nice to see a Kashmiri kababchi. A few wazas have opened up, too, adding to the flavours of the ever bubbling cauldron of Old Delhi.
I took some kababs back home with me for our evening tea. Instead of our usual long leaf tea, we had the kababs with some hot and steaming kahwa, which a friend had just gifted us. It was flavoured with a bit of saffron and some spices, and went well with the kababs.
Just for a moment, I thought I was walking down the boulevard by the Dal Lake, and looking at chinar trees and the mountains. I thought I could even hear the santoor. Good food does that to me.
Recipe: Kashmiri Seekh Kababs
Method: Take some coarsely minced meat. Add chilli powder and salt and mix well. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Take it out. Add eggs, saffron, coriander leaves, black cardamom powder, cumin seeds and dry mint leaves. Make balls and keep them in a well-greased pan. Wet your hands with cold water, take one of the balls and mould it around the skewer to give it a rod-like shape. Grill in a charcoal fire till the seekh kabab is golden brown in colour all over. Take off the skewer, and serve with green chutney prepared with coriander and mint leaves.
(Rahul Verma has been writing on food for over 25 years now. And, after all these years, he has come to the conclusion that the more he writes, the more there is left to be written)
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