Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hari Mirch Keema, Rewri ke Samosey

Chance discoveries are perhaps the best part of foodie life. Hari Mirch Keema and Rewri ke Samosey were both chance discoveries. My friend Kaushik and I had gone to the Walled City in pursuit of old favourites, Dhage Wale Kababs at Matia Mahal and Moinuddin Ustad's Seekh Kababs. I also wanted to introduce him to Makkhan Wali Chai.

On the way to Matia Mahal from the Chawri Bazar metro, we passed a man with a large basket full of what looked like white coloured Samosas. It turns out, they were actually a form of Rewri, called Rewri ke Samosey. Essentially thin circular sheets of Rewri, the edges folded back to approximate an isoceles triangle with a bulging tummy, and with a dollop of hard Kheer inside as a filling.

They sold at two Rupees apiece, five Rupees for three. We bought a tenner's worth, and had them on the way to Matia Mahal. The stuff was nice enough, but cloying in its sweetness. As happens so often, the taste of the final product didn't quite match up to the novelty of the concept.

The Dhage Wale Kabab was an unqualified success, conception and execution alike. It fully deserves a post to itself, so I refrain from any further comment here. We ate decent amounts, then proceeded to Moinuddin's for the next course. Here we were in for a disappointment. The Ustad had run out of raw stuff, and was in the course of packing up for the evening when we arrived. So we had to look around for other forms of nourishment.

When you come to think of it, Lal Kuan has little reason to justify a bustling trade in food. Other foodie gold-seams like Nizamuddin and the Jama Masjid area are important tourist centres. Pilgrims, businessmen and sightseers haunt these places in droves, and this forms the main impetus for the food business. The best that Lal Kuan can brag of is a bunch of ironmongers' shops.

Neither does it lack for variety. One would have thought a diverse range of customers is a prerequisite for this. But no, a single set of habitués, largely local residents, seems enthusiastic enough to make the variety viable.

Moinuddin Ustad's let-down compelled us to explore this variety at first hand. Lining the pavements on either side of the road were pushcarts, cycle-rickshaws and little kiosks. Many featured rudimentary seating arrangements alongside. For the most part, they consisted of a strip of oilcloth flanked on either side by cotton sheets, similar to the 'downmarket Dastarkhwaan' arrangement at Haji Noora's. The more upmarket versions featured rickety rexine-covered tables and metal benches. It was to one of these places that we went.

The youngster running the stall offered a choice of Gobhi Gosht, Alu Gosht, Dal Gosht, Hari Mirch Keema, and a few more names I cannot recall. Kaushik and I could only keep looking at one another. Not surprising, since neither of us had even heard of all this before. Against my better judgment, we ordered two half-plates of Hari Mirch Keema because it sounded the most intriguing.

Against my better judgment, I say, for two reasons. First, low-scale eateries tend to use the worst grades of Keema (mince meat) - tough, gristly, more cartilage than meat, and usually slaughtered off the most elderly buffaloes. Secondly, I have an aversion to excessively spicy food. Several times in the past I'd been hoodwinked into acidity by the most innocuously-named preparations. Here the damn' thing actually got its name from Hari Mirch (green chili pepper)!

This place, I'm glad to say, gave lie to both apprehensions. The chili used was the large, pale green variety they make pickle with, not the smaller and darker type that has one calling the fire brigade. It imparted to the preparation a subdued piquancy, and its green crunchiness made for an interesting visual and tactile counterpoint to the Keema.

The meat itself was soft, mildly chewy, and virtually free of cartilage. It was also richly flavourful, most likely the result of a slow-cooking process. Kaushik and I had extra helpings, and two Rumalis besides. And this on top of a hefty Dhage Wale Kabab session. The meal set us back by less than fifteen Rupees each. We topped the meal with Makkhan Wali Chai, as planned. An entirely satisfying, and also educative, experience.


Anonymous said...

wah wah - kya baat!

DD said...

nice one. :)

Deepa Krishnan said...

I've enjoyed your blog so much! I'm just back from a weekend in Delhi, and we went on this photography expedition in Chandni Chowk.