Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tunde Kebabs, Lucknow

Tunde Kebabs

Tunde Kebabs has 2 main (original) outlets in Lucknow. The original location in Chowk is a hole in the wall serving only 3 items: tunde ke kebabs, parathas & special parathas.

It is a testament to the quality of these kebabs that foodies from across the world treat a visit to the Chowk outlet as a pilgrimage and millions of others stop at the Aminabad outlet which has many more protein and kebab options to choose from. Tunde ke kebab has expanded into a chain - while we were quite disappointed with the Delhi outlet in Daryagang, the outlet in the food court of Rave Moti in Kanpur is quite an acceptable substitute, if you can't reach Lucknow for the real deal.

To reach the original Chowk outlet, you need to leave behind any prejudices you may have against the location/setting of a restaurant. This outlet is bang in the middle of the warren; that is the ancient Chowk market. Be ready to bump into 2 wheelers and cattle along the path. No way can a car get anywhere closer than 500 meters of this location. You know you are headed in the right direction when you see this gate.

The outlet is a further 100 metres past this gateway. The kitchen is between the seating area and the road the original "open kitchen". When you see plenty of bikes stopping right outside a window with chefs busy at work on the window - you know you have reached the right place.

There is one main chef who works on the ulthe tawa ke parathe (parathas cooked on an upside down frying pan) who just keeps roasting off hundreds of parathas each hour.

The kebab pan has a lot more activity and chefs around it. There is one main chef who actually fries the delicate kebabs and two apprentice chefs who shape the kebabs and keep dropping them into the pan.

Tunde Kebabs (a version of the famous Awadhi - Galaouti kebabs) supposedly got their name from the one armed chef who created them over a 100 years ago - Chef Murad Ali - nickname - Tunde.

The original recipe for these kebabs is a closely guarded secret and supposedly there are more than 160 spices mixed into the finely beaten choice cuts of meat. The meat is hand pounded so fine, that the texture is even softer and smoother than mashed potatoes or baby food. But combined with the potent spices, it definitely is adult food. The final kebab is so delicate, its impossible to pick up with your fingers and you definitely need the aid of the parathas to scoop it up.

The interiors are extremely basic, but seating is constantly in high demand. Plastic chairs, formica tables and ancient whirring ceiling fans which haven't yet decided whether their purpose is to keep the smoke away from your eyes, or waft the tantalising aromas towards you.

While the servings may look meagre when a plate is plonked in front of you, its actually quite filling when scooped up with the accompanying parathas and sliced onions (for texture)

Taking the preceding and following pictures was so tortuous on our tongues and tummies, that there are unfortunately absolutely no pictures of the cooked parathas.

Chilled soft drinks (500ml PET) and water were instantly sourced from a neighbouring shop and served at our table by the helpful staff on pre-payment. Between the 5 of us, we polished off (in the true sense of the word) at least 25 plates of kebabs and 15 parathas (we lost count after 5). The bill was a humongous 325Rs. (nope, not missing any digits there)

There's plenty of supervisory and substitute staff around and the whole set up works like clockwork, even when it looks chaotic.

Eating at the Original Tunde kebab in Lucknow is an experience, no true blue foodie should miss.

Fine Print : This outlet only serves bade ke kebab (code for beef), the Ameenabad outlet serves bade ke kebab (code for beef), chhote ke kebab (code for mutton) and chicken kebabs too. Most of the chain outlets only serve mutton and chicken, although if I remember right the Sharjah outlet used to also serve beef.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Delicacy, Guwahati

Krishna Market
Tel: 98546 47845, 96781 45349, 92070 46884

Delicacy is my favourite place for eating Assamese food in Guwahati so far. They have a much wider range than Parampara Paradise and much faster service than King Chilli. The service staff is very polite and obliging. This is not a place you go for the ambience.

They work on extremely fast turnover, so its more of a Udupi restaurant, Kerala mess vibe to it. Food is served in traditional Assamese bell metal vessels.
The other thing that I have realised is that Assamese food seems to use a lot of turmeric during preparation, so I have found most dishes to look almost uniformly yellow in colour and leave my finger nails with a yellow tint for a while (Assamese food has to be eaten with your fingers, not a fork and knife)

While a plate of plain rice is 50/- and a bowl of dhal is 40/-, it definitely makes sense to opt for the Akhaj (veg thali meal) 80/- which gives you unlimited quantitites of rice and 2 types of dhal. There are also limited quantitites of 4 types of vegetable dishes (a semi gravy,  a green leafy vegetable, a pitika - mashed potato and a khar) and a sweet. Lime, green chillis, a spicy chutney and a pcikle are served n the side. Sometimes they even include a complimentary clear vegetable soup.
The food is all simple, wholesome and hearty. The food itself  in the thali isn't spicy, you can up the spice quotient with the chillis, chutney or pickle.

Normally, between the 2 of us we tend to order 2 akhaj's and 1 or 2 non vegetarian side dishes.

We have loved their Pork patot diya (spiced pork cooked in leaves), pork bamboo shoot 150/- Pork Laishak (with green leafy vegetables which I wish they could chop shorter)140/-  simple fried chicken 150/- Pork khorikaa (barbequed) with king chilli 280/- (absolutely excellent with the spicy dip on the side), Ari fish fry 135/- ( a single piece of almost boneless fish which was quite tasty but seemed expensive in comparison to the quantity served against the other items on their menu)

They have over a 100 items on their menu with different varieites of fish. Proteins include chicken, mutton, pork and pigeon. Packing charges are 8/- for each item and 20/- for the akhaj.

A bottle of mineral water (they serve Kinley) is 20/- and all soft drinks are served as 500ml bottles for 30/-

Taxes are a very nominal 5%

Before the bill is presented, they will faithfully offer a plate of betel leaves and betel nut, in keeping with modern trends though, they also include saunf (fennel seeds) as a mouth freshener and some toothpicks.
The only problem with "Delicacy" is access. It's located under an extremely busy flyover and parking is a bit of a distance away. Best to take the turn after Delicacy (its a one way upto delicacy under the flyover), drive further down the road and park there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Moti Mahal Delux, Guwahati

Moti Mahal Delux - tandoori trail
6-11 Ground Floor
Anil Plaza
GS Road
Tel: 2466 113, 2464 380, 99572 70504, 99572 70505

Whenever we drove from Delhi to Agra, Kanpur or Lucknow we always stopped at the Moti Mahal Delux along the way because we loved their Butter Chicken, Dal Makhani and Rotis. So starved as we are for familiar foods here in Guwahati, we were really excited with the opening of Moti Mahal Delux

They have a full bar and also offer some cocktails. A double Black label was 518/- and my mojito was 179/- but alcohol has some very hefty taxes of 30%VAT then 5% service charge and 3.09% service tax. So the initial bill of 697/- escalated to 962/- with taxes.

This may not seem much for a metro city,  but here in Guwahati these 2 drinks were more expensive than the rest of our entire dinner.

We were given a complimetary starter with the drinks which tasted like crumbled uncooked waiwai noodles mixed up like a bhujiya chaat.

We were really hungry when we arrived here as we had spent the whole day visiting Durga Puja Pandlas around the city. We started with Mutton Shami Kebabs 229/- which were served with a green chutney, pickled onions and a mixed pickle. Quite tasty and a lovely appetiser to go with the drinks. It can be eaten either as finger food or with just a fork since it is so soft.
For the main course we ordered tandoori butter rotis 24/- each and onion kulchas 44/- The onion kulchas were excellent accompaniment to the sal Makhani 169/- but the dal makhani itself was lacking something. It did not have that buzz of flavour as that midway to Agra franchise does.
The garlic naan 39/- was excellent and can be eaten as is without dipping it into any gravy or wrapping it around any kebab. It was also wonderful when paired with the perfect butter chicken 259/- which had 4 large chunks of chicken in it (almost half a chicken)
We ordered some jeera pulao (made with basmati rice) 119/- just to have some rice at the end and have an excuse to lick our fingers.

While there was a bit of chicken and rice leftover, we just could not let it go and had to get it packed. They do charge 10/- a container for packing, but its so worth it, instead of just regretting the leftovers the next day.

Taxes on food are much more reasonable than on alcohol. Service charge of 5%, Service tax of 3.09% and VAT of 5%

We were really excited that Moti Mahal offers home delivery in Guwahati, other than the pizza and sandwich guys no one else seems to do that. I can foresee this becoming the equivalent of what Dilli Darbar was for us in Dubai. (the only Indian restaurant that would deliver near Dubai Mall so most home delivery was ordered from them)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Red Sizzle, Guwahati

Red Sizzle
Opp Tanz Supermarket
Next to Cafe Coffee Day
Zoo Road

I'd often seen this restaurant while shopping at Tanz, but my venture of trying Chinese food from Pizzeria opposite (the only ones who home deliver Chinese in this area) was so disastrous, that I'd been heading to Mainland China whenever the urge for Chinese struck.
Today, I just wanted a soup and was quite tired, so since I had to stop at Tanz to pick up some groceries, I thought I would give Red Sizzle a try. I walked inside, gave them my order, paid for it (bill generation took 10 minutes)and asked them to pack it up before I headed to Tanz to shop. The guy who took my order assured me that it would be ready in 15 minutes. The check out line at Tanz took half an hour (after shopping) and when I returned, my order wasn't ready yet!

Another guy apologised for the guy who gave me the 15 minute estimate and said it would take at least another 15 minutes. When I pressed him to give me an accurate time line, he said "ok madam, 30 mins lagega". A total of ONE and A HALF HOUR for a takeaway order to be ready. To be fair, I did order more than a soup. But 2 people sitting down to dinner would have ordered the same quantity, would they be willing to wait this long?

I gave the intial order at 8pm. I got my takeaway at 9:45pm The restaurant was empty and they no longer offer home delivery, so I really don't see where the delay was. No wonder the restaurant was empty.

They have an Indian menu and a Chinese + Thai menu. I completely ignored the Indian menu and ordered from the other. Most Chinese dishes on this menu have Veg/Chicken/Pork/Prawn options.

The Hot & Sour Chicken soup(60/-) was good in that it was filled with veggies and not overdosed with cornflour, but I needed to add tabasco to it to make it both hot and sour. The Laksa Lemak chicken soup (60Rs) was very ordinary - regular chicken soup boiled with slivers of lime.

The Roasted chilli pork (105Rs) and the Chilly chicken dry (105Rs) were much better. This at least had the addictive roadside Chinese flavour. but there were hardly 6 slices of pork and 6 pieces of chicken buried under the onions and capsicums.

The Thai Chicken Red Curry (135Rs) was a complete disaster. A cross between butter chicken with coconut milk, no lemon grass, no galangal, only soya sauce.

The Schezwan fried rice (105Rs) was extremely oily and made with joha rice that was too sticky to be used in fried rice.

Given how long it took for the order to be delivered, it would be faster for me to drive to Mainland China and pick up Chinese from there and drive back. Needless to say, I won't be returning here unless a massive craving for street style chilly chicken hits us.


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