Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bhawans Diet

A nation mobilises in 48 hrs and goes on a diet regime for aweek to be fit to fight a war- The Israeli army diet. We have heard of the GM Diet , the Mediteranean diet, the South Beach Diet and Agent Sam's absolut favourite the Atkins diet. But, this about an absolutely an interesting diet that only people living in Delhi for extended periods, or visting Delhi can practise. Its largely a day diet (meant for lunch) usually unproductive and sluggish and unresponsive during the evening and nocturnal practise.

This is the Bhawans Diet. Eating out at states bhawans located in Delhi. It can also include the State sadans, State residences. I have been researching for a few years eating well in 100 Rupees (local exotica) and not pizza, burgers, vada pav and dosas. The State bhawan's representing the 28 states (I hope thats correct)and 7 Union territories (except Delhi of course ) are well represented in Delhi and most offering the cusines of the state in most intertesting spread and economical budget as they largely fit in the Rs100/- price range.

My friend Nat, who dislikes all variations of regional food (a tamilian by birth and Bengali by adaptation and Dilliwala by profession), seriously overweight, coined the term Bhawan's diet. Had this to say, on Bhawan's diet, a term he coined, If I keep eating in all Bhawan's for a month,I will not only experience variety for 26 (or is it 28days) and perhaps like the Atkins diet lose as many pounds.

On contraire, Agent Sam feels, will gain as many pounds.

I have always been a great evangelist and perhaps an exponent (among my circle of trust) for the egalitarian eating out business and have often voiced my need to write a " A Salesman guide to eating out under rs 100/-" priced at Rs 99/. I have visited over 174 interesting place to eat in over 32 towns in India. But as I said its not about in India, no hang on Its about India, but all of India in New Delhi. Trust me its not a slap dash job of going to Dilli haat and writing about the food in Awadh, Kerala, Andhra, Maharashtra on a few afternoons out.

On contraire, its a deep quest for the right address, cajoling and making polite conversation to be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the gastronomic halls of freedom. Its a pity that all Bhawan's do not have the authentic food of the region with the provincial chefs and contractors . However there are many more that offer gastronmic delights that feel like a eurakan moment in terms of discovery.

The State bhawans/ Sadan/hostel and residences I have visited are Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Orissa, Mahrashtra, Tamil Nadu and I embarassed to admit Andhra Bhawan which every man and his dog in Delhi has visited (including me). Actually Andhra Bhawan is the firestone that ignites the journey to Bhawandom.The other Bhawans slowly and usually follow.

Jammu and Kashmir:

Not a patch on the original Kashmiri food at Hadoos in Srinagar, Mir saab of Jangpura in New Delhi and a caterer in the Jammu Kash House who caters for Weddings (I forget his name). Other Kashmiri experiences in Hotels and restaurants have been mediocre, e.g, Chor Bizzare at Hotel President and the IHC and IIC.The best experiences have been in rich Kasmiri homes, both Pandit and Muslim.

The food at Jammau Kashmir House is best described as that of a Musafir Khana (which it actually is), which is served in the dhabas, on the upper climbs on the highway to Poonch (which in the late 80's had Gen Zia- ul -haq's photo behind the cash counter and its not POK that I am talking about). The bland meat with high doses of turmeric and salt the only percieved flavour. We went in as agroup of 4 persons, ordered Rogan Josh, some vegetables, rice and multiple orders of seekh kabab (procured by chatting up the waiter with polite conversation). In fact several portions of the above for a royal sum of Rs 450/-.

Its tolerable budget Kashmiri food, which leaves with you a feeling, let me try it one more time, before I make and form an opinion. Missed out on the exotic need for Haq (greens), Nadroo(lotus stems, lotus eater you see), Tabakmaaz (fried ribs) and of course, Rista (meatballs), Gustaba (more meatballs) and other parts and entralls of the humble goat and its, diet ( I meant the goats diet in terms of the greens).

The dining hall is two sections one quiet and lonely (bourgeouise) and full and noisy (proletariat)Net, net please ago if you are missing the the cookhouses on the Rajouri - Poonch road, with impoverished, porcelain plates, cups and plates. Maybe if we told them in advance, or have the access to Kashmiri bourgeouise, bureaucrat or royalty with us for a better experience. It does not qualify as democratic place to eat yet.

While we are on Kashmiri I have an interesting story to tell on Kashmir

Son of Sher-i-Kashmir (Doctor saab)

Will fill you in slowly on other bhawans Orissa which have been several times, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

So Long

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