Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Trip to Hauz Khas Village - the non village

I love planning...not the immaculate thought through to the last detail, well in advance kind of planning. Rather the last minute, 'let's do something' and it should be fun kind of planning which entails frantic wracking of one's brains for options and spur of the moment innovations.

Yesterday was one such day...I had a long boring meeting from 9 AM sharp and it lasted till about 12:30 in the noon. As you can imagine my brains were fried by the time I walked out.Once out the first thing I saw was a message from a friend who said 'I am so bored, I feel like running away' initially I said 'lets do it together'. Later I thought, 'what the heck, its a Friday - we deserve a break.'

So messages went scurrying back and forth and a plan was formed.

The idea was to meet up at Hauz Khas village - 'pregame' as the youngsters call it, at a shots bar and then eventually go to Golconda Bowl for dinner.

Hauz Khas Village - once used to be a sleepy little village in the midst of posh South Delhi almost hidden from sight as it were. In the late nineties when I had first visited the village it used to be home to many a struggling designer and artist and had dusty lanes and by-lanes where hookah-smoking men and cows both lounged in peace.

Not any more, Hauz Khas Village is now the hub for youngsters who arrive in hordes as the sun goes down to party away at its many bars & pubs. There seem to be more commercial joints at the village than homes. Curios, designer ware, apparels and restaurants bring in many a tourist as well.

The partner and his art partner were the first to arrive,having a bit of time in hand decided to take a stroll at the nearby lake and monument. The setting sun and gentle breeze making it a peaceful walk.

By 7 PM all five of us met up at He Said, She Said - a bar which promotes itself as a Shots Bar.Like most places in the village the bar was at various levels and was interestingly done up. We walked up to the first floor and made ourselves comfortable. Waited for the waiter to hand us the menus...only to find that most things we wanted were not available, also while a board outside had happily announced Happy Hours till 10 PM - most items on the menu were outside its purview as well.

Not to let this affect us...we ordered our preferred poisons and got down to the serious business of letting down our hair.

The cocktails took close to forever to arrive, the food appeared faster. I had been warned about slow service but the erratic behavior of the waiters was surprising.

The honey chilli potatoes and quirkily named sharaabi seekh were nothing to write home about - except perhaps that the potatoes were doused in tomato sauce and seekh were dehydrated.

Inspite of the sad performance so far we couldnt go away from a shots bar without trying their shots - so after much thought we each chose one - only for the waiter to come and tell us that none of those were available and he pointed to another section of the menu and said only these were available.

We bravely yet again went about choosing and eventually five shot glasses with different colored liquids arrived at our table. Sorry to report none of them was anything to write about though one or two were not so bad as sherbets.  My two year old would have laughed at the amount of alcohol in the shots.

We walked out determined to not let this less than satisfactory experience mar our evening. By now the evening crowds had started arriving and scores of young people on ten inch heels walked past in search of their favorite water hole.

Golconda Bowl our next destination, turned out to be at the end of a serpentine gully past many a restaurant and shop which allowed for a quick purchase as well. A friend picked up an interesting glass topped table and after arranging with the shop keeper to have it delivered, we were finally on our way to try out the famed Nizami cuisine. 

The pretty lamp at the entrance

The entrance belied the space inside and I was impressed with the hanging lamps and the overall decor and ambience of the place, which while it had touches of the Nizami style didn't overdo it and allowed for tables to be placed at a certain distance from each other giving guests a sense of privacy.

We asked for a jumbo snacks platter which had a sampler of the famed pathar ke kebab, chicken 65, seekhs and tikkas. While the tikkas and seekhs were done well, the unanimous choice for everyone was the pathar ke kebab, tender, subtly spiced and with no hint of extra grease - they tasted so right that had we not got plans to gorge on biryiani we would have probably only had pathar ke kebab and come away happy.
On a whim we also ordered a subz shikhampuri kebab which turned out to be a crisp tikki with a nice texture. 

Our order for the main course had dum ka murg - a boneless chicken dish in a nice tomato and cream gravy which was topped with crispy onion flakes went really well with the tandoori rotis we had ordered. Next came the nalli nihari and the kaache ghosht ki biryiani topped with half a boiled egg, which immediately brought a smile to the face of our Kolkata friend since no biryiani in Kolkata is ever complete without a boiled egg and a big potato piece.

The Nihari was made a little different from our usual Karim's and everyone felt Karim's does it better. One of course has to understand that not all dishes with the same name are made the same way across the country though the basic ingredients may remain the same or similar.

The biryiani was amazing....just right in its balance of flavors and aroma. Neither bland nor over spiced as many a fake hyderabadi biryani served in Delhi tends to be. The kaache ghosht ki biryiani gets its name from the fact that unlike other biryianis this one cooks the meat and rice at one go in dum. How they manage to get both the rice and mutton just right is a trick I would love to learn.

We were so busy eating that I forgot to click pictures. The image you see here is taken from the Golconda Bowl web page.
The biryiani came accompanied by another legendary dish from Hyderabad the Mirch ka salan and a khati dahi ki chatni. The salan was nice while the chatni seemed a very diluted version of a raita. Nice with the biryiani

We finished every morsel and had a literally finger licking experience doing so.

Would highly recommend the Golconda Bowl to all those who love an authentic meal.

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