Monday, July 16, 2012

Raised their hands- Khalsa Parivar Restaurant

Raised the Hands- Khalsa Parivar Restaurant Mayapuri

An orgasm in ancient times was often referred to as “ the little death”. I just experienced the  little death. Not with an orgasm, but a gourmet experience extraordinaire at Mayapuri in West Central Delhi.

Rahul  Verma a well acclaimed food writer, based in Delhi is one of the leading respected one’s in my list.  He planted the seed in my head about the two Khalsa restaurants in Mayapuri. The story about the marinade for the Mutton Burra being garlic water and salt was unbelievable, in this age of over spiced and over marinated meats era. The effort is to camouflage the taste of the meat.

Wanted to desperately go there, went several times to Mayapuri in 2008 (few times), 2010 (few times) to buy, construct and repair my very robust Jeep MM 550, I have passed both the Khalsa restaurants and did not spot them to be the ones. I think they looked less dramatic than the one conjured in my head.

The opportunity was raked by Abhijeet when he visted  Khalsa and reminded me of its magnificience. On a very rainy Friday three of us set out in Mahindra Scorpio ( Sanjay Saini, Abhijeet Singh and Me).A  rainy and painful journey of over two hours. Cut To chase.

Enter Khalsa Parivar Restaurant, the choice is made a bottle of Teachers and three short glasses with ice, water and sodas are laid in a flash. We make our choices, mutton burra by the kilo, keema kaleji  and the dollops of gooey goodness, brain curry.

The whiskies disappear in a flash (like they arrived), we impatiently wait for the meat. The next table has 6-7 beaming faced  sikh  gentlemen (they look gentle and tacit after the copious consumption), Huge heap of bones and empty blue whisky bottles, show they are way ahead of us. I ask gently ask them what’s good here, they mention, exactly what we have ordered. We know we are in a good space.

The mutton arrives, simple uncomplicated, roasted, light flavor, basted with clarified butter, not sticky or oils, soft but firm evenly spread with fat. Goddamn Good, we were ready for more another ½  a kilo.

The Sikhs are regulars, they narrate a sort story, on their last visit, after six bottles of whisky the bar man and owners Raised their hands in exasperation and said no more. However, after tasting the heavenly morsels we, raised our hands to the almighty to say a Lo and Behold for this grace.

The next course arrives, Keema Kaleji ( minced meat and Liver) with Roomali Roti (fabric thin bread), wiped clean without a trace…… Superlative. The protein in the liver sift and succulent…. We know freshly cooked (as liver cooked and reheated gets tough and chewy)

Now the piece- de- resisitance the brain curry, fresh gooey and simple, not a compounded fist but a well cooked globules of goodness that gets swallowed like expensive caviar. Served, with fresh Tandoori Rotis. Whisky giving good company. We heaved in a gentle alchol and food comma we were magically beaming, whilst the neighbors were almost angelic close to their sixth bottle and sixth course/ smiling with beatific smile. Bas kar jee hun bas kar jee, of the Wadali brothers playing in the backround and in my head.

Rekong Peo, Kalpa : Journey Unlimited for US $65

Walking in the park with my Junkie friend Sanjoo in 2006, he mentioned a non stop state roadways that goes from Delhi to Rekong Peo (in Kinnaur, located on the Old Hindustan Tibet trade road/route). I had to go there. Tried mentally a couple of times, something or the other came up.Finally, I and Sandeep Gupta walked into the sunset all set for a 20 hours, 800 kms and Rs465/ journey.

We left Delhi in the HPSR (Himachal Pradesh State Roadways) bus on Wednesday October 01, 2008 evening at 8.10 pm . Reached Rekong Peo with 5 halts (including nature breaks, meals, tea and temple halts) and two punctures at 5.15 pm on Thursday 02, 2008.Not satisfied with journey so far and the PWD rest house at Rekong Peo went further 13 kms and a few hundred metres above sea level to live at the beautiful village Kalpa and the very nice Circuit House. Offering perhaps one of the best views of theKinner Kailash range and the legendary Shivling, Parvati Kund, Jorkandan peak and the adjoining Raldang snow clad mountains.

We made the trip of 4 nights, 1800 kms and 12 meals and entertainment of IMFL and other miscellaneous within Rs 3000/0 a person. This sounds unbelievable for the price of a night out at a pub we explored within ourselves and the world outside for US$ 65 (at current conversion rates) and enjoyed the whole experience. Though we ate well, lived well and drankwell, seems amazing. We did not start with a budget, somewhere half way in the trip we decided to beat the inflation and do it under Rs 3000/- and live to tell the tale.

Reekong peo is the District HQ of Kinnaur and Kalpa is the erst while District HQ and now declared aUnesco heritage village. It has athousnd year old buddhist monastery which was burnt and then again rebuilt in the 50s. Kalpa was an outpost on the Old Hindustan Tibet trade road and route and strong junction on the Silk route.

Walking in the same park this time with Mr Chaterjee and and Mr Mehnditatta (as I fondly call them) , mentioned about the Kinnauri Apsaras, mentioned in the Vedas and the Puranas, and their celestial beauty. It was ratified that Lord Shiva, was right to come to the legendary village of Kalpa as his winter abode. The women are pretty and easy to talk to. We even visited a local house to buy the local brew called Ghanti (bell, does ring a bell, made from apples, apricot and grapes) and the women wanted to chat up and next day in the village square they were again chatty. Kinnaur is the apple orchard haven and each house is allowed to make 24 bottles of local wine for their own consumption and for religious purposes.

Ghanti comes in two formats, light and strong the legendary stuff comes fro a village called Ribba. To test the potency, you dip your finger and then light the fire, the liquid burns and your finger is intact, thats strong and that retails at Rs 100/0 a bottle and the light which is like apotent wine and does not light up retails at Rs 50/- Personally we hated it and gifted the only bottle we bought to the Circuit house staff Joban Dass the housekeeper and Narendar the cook at Kalpa.

The main occupation in Kinnaur which also has the gems of Sangla valley is apple farming. The variety is the Royal Red and Delicious which red and very juicy and very crunchy the sell at wholesale ranging from Rs 800 to Rs 1200 for a cardboard box of 20 kg. This year the apple farmers were worried, as the size of apples is very small and they were red and ripe even at the size of a plum. Most attributed it to ecological imbalance and change in climatic conditions.

The ecological imbalance can be attributed to the creation or devastation (depends on how you look at it) of the several hydro electric power plants of HPEC (Himachal Pradesh Electricity Corporation) Jaypee Group who are collectively producing 3000 MW through several plants at Nathpa Jhakri, Baspa, Karcham, Wangtu and so on. Basically they are trying to harness the wild apaloosa of a 1500km long Satluj river. Block it , divert ity, tunnel it. As a result the constant blasting has led to the place looking like a war torn territory and shaken the foundations of the mighty mountains. Resulting in landslides and silting of the river. It looks like a serious catastrophe in waiting.

WE were lucky to stay in the HP PWD Circuit house at Kalpa, with hot meals, hot water, warm beds and heated rooms, all for Rs 200/- a night, inclusive of tips we paid Rs 600/- for everything for two nights. We stayed in the old wing which was wooden bungalow of the British era, with two bedrooms, two toilets, dining room and a lounge with glass windows with a view of the snow clad mountains.On the way back we stayed at Narkanda, HP Pwd Rest house another British era rest house spent two hundred rupees for dinner and stay of two persons for the night.

The food on the trip was average to poor as Himachali are average cooks and could not savour the non vegetarian cusine as I was vegetarian, so no momos, thukpas and Khadus (mountain goat) and Bhedu (sheep). We stuck to the Aloo Paratha, Puri Aloo, Cutlets for Breakfast and Rajma Rice, Roti, Vegetables and Dal for Lunch and Dinner. The locales made up for the lack of gastronomic appeal. As my grandfather often said, great locales, poor food, poor locales great food.

We did challenge ourselves to some degree of physical limits travelling 40 hours in a bus out of the96 hours we stayed out, walked for 11-12 hours and were shooting the breeze and sleeping the balance 44 hours. The last time I did anything close to the this physical exhaustion was when drove down alone in an Opel Astra in 27 hours from Mumbai to Delhi in 27 hours (in 2000), while truckers take 72 hrs. It did rejuvenate me and makes feel alive.
We got to do a day climb, to a peak called Chaka above Kalpa at about 15000ft. It had a water source called Chaka and a small lake. It was like a very pasture land for the summers. Truly Lord Shiva chose an ideal place to relax through winter.
The highlight of the trip are the economic commercials, my companian Sandeep will be deeply disappointed (for all the hardship I caused), If the details are not shared.Transport 1215.00,Stay Rest Houses for three nights 450.00, Food, booze, guide and all other trivia, mineral water, choclates, ghanti etc 1665.00 in all Rs 3000.00 with some loose change to spare. Long live Bhola and Ghanti.
So Long