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Siddhartha Menon

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The Hidden Agenda
by Siddhartha Menon   
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Last edited: Friday, September 19, 2008
Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008

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Delhiís unknown gastronomical marvels (Part I)
An article I wrote for Rock Street Journal, featuring something I profusely enjoy food. The article will take you through some of the most exciting eating places delhi has to offer.

First, let me thank the demonstealer who is indeed the inspiration for this article. A very demonic thank you to you indeed. I have traveled far and wide like a nomad in search for the next meal, the guys in office know me as the 1ío clock maniac. Life as I know it has revolved around food for me pretty much since the time I stepped into this world, and fortunately for me I was born into a house that allowed me the freedom of chicken, meat, beef, pork and the list goes on. Talking about being fortunate, I must also add that I was lucky enough to be born in the city of Delhi. Which to most people I know is home and to others a city that can easily be called the melting pot of this country, I donít think this city has one section of people more than the other, there is everyone here, EVERYONE. This my friends has been a boon to us foodies, we have got to taste everything from paani puris aka Gol Guppas (this is what they are called in Delhi and are a more I repeat a more tastier version of their counterparts from various parts of India) to Kakori Kebabs, from the swankiest restaurant to the odd dhaba or two. This is the story of Delhiís most amazing food places that are nestled amidst rotting cow corpses and smells so divine that even a hard core veggie would switch sides. Let me start with the most obvious of the targets- Jama Masjid, most people would think that I would refer to Karimís and say dude, shut upÖ we know that place, and you arenít cool enough. OK point taken. However, I must tell you this, just outside the precarious entrance to Karimís there is a shop called Al Jawahar, with the most scrumptious Phirniís and some of the tastiest meat preparations ever, what one must try is the Meat stew and no its not a dish that is out of some London eatery, it is very Indian in its texture and taste, it has an overpowering aroma of bay leaf and other spices such as cinnamon and cloves and also a texture that is achieved only by the finest in the business. I urge you to try. If you are not a sucker for five star comfort and cleanliness I suggest a place that till today I donít know the name of, but I will try my best to describe it, and let me warn you, people with a heart disease donít even try, youíll die of high cholesterol. Just a few steps (they seem like a lot if youíre really hungry) from well the precarious entrance to Karimís lies this shop which can only be identified by a small yellow light, stacks of butter, stacks of legs that belong to some poor chicken and then there is the smell. Let me warn you that this shop is a butchers shop by day and heaven by night, the smell of good food often replaced by the musty smell of a butcher shop. But let me tell you that it is all worth it, yes it is. You place an order for Full, half or quarter, you can also place an order for the odd soft drink or two and then there is the Romali Roti besides all of this there is nothing that you can order. Once the dish (which is called in all fairness Bhuna Chicken) arrives (Slurp!), you are bewildered at the amount of butter that is oozing out and the mysterious concoction that has been poured over the chicken, like the druidís potion in the astrix comics, the recipe is a heavily guarded secret, and all that can be revealed is that there is butter in the concoction, with some weird masalas and coriander leaves. But you know what, WHO CARES, it tastes so divine and the chicken is so tender, you almost feel like preserving it, but hunger takes control and silence is the only companion that accompanies you throughout the meal. The bhuna chicken has saved me many a time at numerous daaru parties and random get togethers, people have loved it and have been enamored by the taste and if they have ever visited the place, they have been completely awestruck by the sheer smallness of this really BIG dish. The chicken, the masalas, the man and his shop are indeed something to write about, I donít say this as a foodie but I say this as a human being, GO there or DIE (of hunger obviously).

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