Every once in a while, someone comes up to me and conspiratorially recommends what must by now be the worst-kept secret in South Delhi’s “offbeat” food scene — Khan Chacha’s kabab corner in Khan Market. Frankly, I find said place more than a tad over-rated — the kabab rolls tend to be all shmushed up inside, and you can barely discern anything more than a floury-meaty taste.
I first read about The Metropolis in a rather eye-catchingly titled Rahul Verma article last year: “Manali in Paharganj”. And when the man himself recommended it as one of the best places for continental food, we wasted no time in organizing an EOiD community expedition to Paharganj.
I have taken several friends to The Metropolis since that first “field trip” in April, and my experiences, though overall positive, have not been quite as unmixed as I would have hoped.
For reasons I myself cannot comprehend, I recently decided to take the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) NET exam, a cockeyed morally offensive mind-numbing scandal of a paper that deserves to be thrown out.
But on the plus side, it gave me the occasion to revise some of the basic concepts in economics that had been parroted out to us in our undergrad years.
One such is what is known as Engel’s Law, which states that as incomes rise, the share of expenditure on “necessities” like food declines.
(or, Fishing for Mallu Food at I. N. A. Market)
Vinayan and I have come a long way. About a decade ago, when our department acquired its first few computers and pretended to call the room they were dumped in a “lab”, I was an eager little graduate student there. I would go to him for assistance, entering his room with a hesitant “Sir?”. A friendly smile would instantly wreath Vinayan’s face, and soon I was saying the “Sir” without really meaning it. Now I teach students in the same computer lab, and Vinayan always meets me with a “Good Morning, Sir!”. But I’m happy in the knowledge that he too, never means the “Sir”.
Over the years, we’ve acquired many grey hairs, been through much sadness and joy, but with one thing or another, we’d never ended up going out together for a meal. That lacuna had been bothering me lately, so last week I used the pretext of this blog to ask Vinayan if he’d take me to a good mallu place in town.
Once upon a time there ruled over twentieth-century Indraprastha, not one but two Ashoks, whose empire stretched as far as the eye could see, and their fame even beyond.
Okay, granted that the eye couldn’t see very far at all in twentieth-century Indraprastha, but you get the gist.
Every day when the sun would set on their bonny kingdom, the Ashoks would collect their tithe, and transform it into a toothsome treat of mutton and chicken, curried in the richest of gravies, replete with desi ghee and the finest dry fruits their minions could muster.
Zero is not India’s greatest contribution to mankind, it’s the Manchurian. What, with all the jeera, dhaniya, and even garam masala it seems right from the heart of the Guangdong province, doesn’t it?
The Nepali kancha cooking chowmein in that pseudo-wok (essentially a kadhai) isn’t all that bad, I’ve realized. I’ve had the ‘real’ Chinese – and no, House of Ming isn’t the absolute Chinese-Chinese — and I’ve had the Indian-Chinese. I’m a sucker for both, but it’s the Indie-Chinese that leaves you with that strong aftertaste of dark soy, chilli and garlic — reminiscent of the yum that was.
Continue reading “Momo’s affair”
The Russians are a darling lot. They are apt to be disarmingly rude yet bashfully imperial, to drink like pigs, dance like oafs, have fond memories of their mothers humming to Raj Kapoor tunes, and love cooking just the way their grandmothers did.
Or so has been my experience from staying with a Russian roommate and interacting with her swarm of friends in the US. Russian cooking is geared to help you survive through extreme cold and poverty, so you could say it was ideally suited for us graduate students in Chicago. Slabs of pork, fillets of tilapia (which I loved precisely because they didn’t smell like fish), dumplings, mashed potatoes, and generous amounts of sour cream and soya sauce figured prominently in my roommate’s cooking, and it was only thanks to trips to the gym that we kept our weight in any control.