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.
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.
Japanese food in “saadi dilli” is a bit of a rarity. In a largely vegetarian world, the demand for such food is low to begin with. Add to that the “eek” factor associated with raw fish, and then being affordable largely by the urban bourbon-drinking page 3 hip and plastic crowd, and you have a cuisine on which the exclusion factor has been really high. I chanced on it, or rather was force-fed on it, when my parents decided to move to Japan for a year almost 15 years ago. Since then there has been no looking back and I’m always on the lookout for places serving Japanese food. So I was super excited to learn from a cousin that a japani eating place had opened up in D-Block Market, Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar, called Tamura (ph: +91-11-26154082).
The idea of a late evening walk originally came from food buff Monali, an Orkut friend who works for CSE (those obsessive warriors against pesti-colas). Last winter, we had taken a long walk through the bylanes of Old Delhi, sampling a variety of meaty and vegetarian fare dotted between Jama Masjid and Red Fort. Since another walk was long due and summers had arrived, Monali had suggested that we conjure one late evening stroll and turn it into a Hog Walk (her coinage). As luck would have it, Hemanshu popped up on my screen an evening later and floated an outing in Old Delhi. Things fell into place soon thereafter.
Continue reading “A Hog Walk”