Quick and Cheap North Indian Lunch

Tasty doesn’t mean Expensive

One of my favourite things to have for lunch is Chole-Kulchey and if you haven’t stayed in Delhi/Amritsar, in all likelihood, you haven’t tasted the real thing. Sweet…chilly…tangy… utterly delicious food. Do not ever do the mistake of eating this dish anywhere except the North. South/West/East Indians just can’t make it the way its supposed to be.

In the inner circle of Cannaught Place one can see vendors with hand pulled carts with Shiny Big brass vessels filled with the cholley (channa/matter) & a small burner heating the kulchey AND if one misses that the smell of the mouth-watering channa will anyway guide you to the right place.

It takes less than 5 min for the guy to mix the chickpea with spices, lemon, chopped tomatoes, onions & chillies and serve it on a leaf plate … all for Rs. 10/- (in budget and for the cal conscious LOW CAL).

The hot spots other than CP for this delectable dish are Chandini Chowk, Shankar Market, Green Park (basically everywhere) , although my absolute favorite is Nathu’s at Defence Colony (Def Col. for the uninitiated).

So if you are lucky enough to be in DefCol right now …Go to Nathu’s and have the meal of your lifetime.

PS: This post has been written after an utterly disgusting and tasteless food at the company cafeteria.

Punjabi Dhaba – Ulsoor, Bangalore

Yes, that is the name of the place. “Punjabi Dhaba” is a no frills place which was recommended by a lot of people and I decided to check it out myself this weekend. The place is a bit tough to find since it looks like a tea stall more than a famous dhaba.

While coming from MG road towards the Ulsoor gurudwara, DO NOT take the road which goes towards the Old Madras Road and instead take the small road which goes down from the gurudwara. Right next to the gurudwara is this innocuous looking place and if you’re lucky you’ll even see the sardar owner with his big fat paunch sitting over the cash counter. But trust me, when I mean small, the place is really small. There are four tables seating four people each and a seperate cooking area where the only person than can fit is the owner himself :-)

Well, coming to the food, we ordered a methi chicken, dal makhani and bhindi masala. The bhindi was fine but the chicken, which smelt really good btw, wasn’t up to the mark. The meat could have been cooked a little more but then since this is a dhaba I’m willing to overlook that. But the dal makhani ! That is one thing I EXPECT all dhabas to make well ! Period. This ones dal was quite bland and it looked to me that he had forgotten to put the magical fried onions that all dhabas do. Other than that, for the money I paid (Rs 170), I couldn’t really complain. The quanity was enough and I had the leftover the next day too :-)

It looks like the place doens’t have a tandoor though since the parathas that we ordered were made on a normal tawa and weren’t the tandoori paranthas I was expecting.

My verdict: I’ll go there again, If I’ll really hungry and am in the vicinity but I’ll probably stick to the chicken curry and dal makhani and not experiment with the other types of chicken that they serve.

GupShup, Indira Nagar – Bangalore

This one calls itself the home for all kind of Bengali snacks. The place serves the usual raj kachori, tikki, papari chaat and also the very famous kolkata style chicken rolls. This place is located on 12th Main on top of the the bengali fine dining place, 6 Ballygunge Place, and something tells me that its owned by the same person.

On to the food, we ordered a plate of papari chaat, a plate of tikki chaat and chicken rolls. Yes, we were hungry and this was to be our dinner !

The food was passable enough that I won’t be coming here again. Come to think of it, how many places in Bangalore have I ticked off the list till now ! Well … both the chats basically had the same ingredients, which were the usual haldiraam daal namkeen, a little tamarind sauce and a little curd. In fact, the tikki chaat didn’t even have the tamarind curd in it. So, do you blame me for not recommending this place, not for the chaat atleast !

Now I’m a huge chicken rolls fan and the chef ( ! ) really could have redeemed himself if he had made those any better than the ones I’ve had in other parts of the city. But no. The parantha for the rolls was soft and not crispy enough and the chicken filling was quite tasteless. It really could do with a little sauce in it.

My verdict, don’t go there ! There are better places for chicken rolls in the city and as for chaat, forget it, Bangalore is not the place for it !

Chung Wah – Koramangala, Bangalore

This one is a part of a chain of chung-wah’s in the garden city. Quite a few people still swear by the original one on Residency Road but since I wasn’t in the mood all the way to residency road, I decided to check out the one in Koramangala instead. There are two chung wah’s in Koramangala and I went to the swankier looking one ;)

Since this is navratra time and wife is only eating veg these days, we ordered veg. I know veg food is not the best to judge a chinese restaurant by, but it’ll have to do this time.

I ordered a beer which wasn’t cold enough, a starter which was essentially a fried version of tinted sweet corn made to resemble dimsums of some kind, in short … not happening.

Coming to the main course, we ordered Dan Mein noodles which they call their speciality. It was ok, nothing great but spciy, which I liked. We also ordered a dish with gravy made of some kind of glass noodles and lots of vegetables.

There was nothing wrong with the food, but it wasn’t great. It was actually quite passable and *normal* as my wife commented. We paid around 450 bucks for the food and I’m not sure I’ll be visiting them again. On second thoughts, I might, if I’m interested in some *normal* Indian chinese food.

Chandni Chowk – Koramangala, Bangalore

The first time I walked past the place, I though it was a shady joint for alcoholics and gangsters. Then one day I read a review of the place in a newspaper and decided to check out the place myself. Well, the place still looked shady from the outside and when I entered through the steel door, yes the kind you see at under contstruction buildings in India, the scene wasn’t very different.

The place looks like a dance bar except that there is no dance floor and it is quite a task trying to find a place to sit in the dim lighting. And even when you do find one, you’d be hard pressed to find a comfortable seat. I’m a 6ft tall guy and found the seats a little too low to my liking and they’re not really seats. They have actual stone slabs for seats with cushions which were as worn out as the place itself. Probably the management thought that no one would see through the details in the dim lighting.

After seeing all this I’d have left the place had it not been for the fact that it was quite late in the afternoon, I was hungry and the after all the reviews did say that the food was nice. So, I decided to take my chances.

My wife and I played safe and ordered our staple daal makhani, kadai chicken and naans. Well, while the food didn’t suck as much as the place, it was definitely nothing to write home about. The naans were a little cold and the chicken had a bit too much oil and wasn’t cooked with the right masalas. For a place which touts itself as a north Indian food place, the food had nothing north indian about it, except for the prices which were a little north of what I’d expected.

My verdict: You can go there if you want to experiment a bit, but I’m not going again. Thank you.

Update: I went to Chandni Chowk once more since I wrote the original review and I’m glad I did, cause it proved that my first impressions about the place were right. The place totally sucks and I don’t think I’ll be able to figure out in this lifetime why Bangaloreans like the place so much !

The food this time was cooked in atleast three times the recommended salt levels and the service was pathetic.

Btw, in case you’re wondering, I went there this time because we were in a group and there was no other place open at that time which was close enough. I guess this is why most people end up at Chandni Chowk anyway.