There are few things more difficult than getting yourself to start going for morning walks in Delhi’s pitiful excuse of a monsoon season. I had been trying to get going for several weeks, on occasion even succeeding in rousing myself in the wee hours of the morning. But I would lose heart when just a step out of the house confirmed that sona inside was infinitely better than sauna outside.
Talk about Nihari in Delhi, and somehow the name of Kallu Ustad invariably crops up. Rahul Verma mentions him in a column, the occasional website includes his fare in one of its old Delhi walks, and every other nihari lover counts him in her favourites.
Little wonder then that I had been wanting to visit Kallu’s shop for quite a while now.
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.