Saturday, December 22, 2012

Brain Games....... King Offal

Brain Games…… King Offal


Sounds like a thriller but a thriller it is. North Indian Hindus do not eat offal; yes we are truly in some parts becoming a Republic of chicken. However, Offal eating can range from gourmet cuisine ( pate de foie gras , for the poor (who cannot afford  top end cuts). Offal has an origin in the German language abfall or abval. A general snapshot of India its neighbors:

In India and Pakistan, the goat's brain (maghaz), feet (paey), head (siri), stomach (ojhari or but), tongue (zabaan), liver (kalayji), kidney (gurda), udder (kheeri) and testicles (kapooray) as well as chickens' heart and liver are enjoyed. One popular dish, Kata-Kat, is a combination of spices, brains, liver, kidneys and other organs. Beef offal is relished with the above mentioned parts regularly used in food, especially fried delicacies. In the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, lamb and goat brain sautéed and stir fried with spices (often called bheja fry) is a delicacy. In the southern Indian city of Mangalore, a spicy dish called rakti, made of heavily spiced porcine offal and cartilaginous tissue, is considered a homely indulgence.


In Bangladesh, a bull's or goat's brain (mogoj), feet (paya), head (matha), stomach skin (bhuri), tongue (jib-ba), liver (kolija), kidney and heart are delicacies. Chickens' heart, gizzard (gi-la) and liver are also enjoyed.


In Nepal, a goat's brain (gidi), feet (khutta), head (tauko), stomach skin (bhudri), tongue (jibro), liver (kalejo), kidney, lungs (phokso), fried intestines (aandra), fried solidified blood (ragati) and to a lesser extent testicles are considered delicacies and are in very high demand in Dashain when families congregate and enjoy them with whiskey and beer. Chickens' heart and liver are also enjoyed but it is chickens' gizzards that are truly prized.


Every meat eating Nations have their offal eating traditions both at the grass root and gourmet level. Anthony Bourdain has a large body of work chasing Offal eating in various cultures apart from his original French culture….. Haggis in Scotland , Head Cheese in various parts of Europe, Kidney Pie and black pudding in England, chopped liver with the Jewish community


I have eaten liver on toast, liver masala with drinks, keema kaleji as main course as well as a snack at the JCOs mess in the army, liver for breakfast in the Military Academy.

Kidneys as  a part of Taka tak in Pakistan, sometimes as a curry, never my favorite. Kapoorey no no even when they are offered. Tried Kheeri or udders  at Ramazan at Mohammad Ali road. Love the Kharodas (trotters) as child in Karnal and Spicy Paya Curry as a grown up with  all the gelatinous cartilage.

This post, however is about none other than the king of them all, Brain……. I love, I dream about it have eaten it as a cutlet, a pakora, bheja fry, brain curry ( at Salim, Karims, Minar, Khalsa Dhaba In Delhi, Nachiyar, Imperial, Empire, Ponuswamy in  Bangalore, brain chilly, brain bhurji at several other joints.

Last Sunday had to eat it back from the gym stopped at Sanjha Chullah, no don’t have it on the menu. Next stop Salim at Kailash Colony (I was initiated here about two decades ago) a no. Next stop my preferred butcher Greater Kailash 2, …. Don’t have it. Karims an Industrial outlet and takeaway at GK2 had curry priced at Rs 240 for one piece …. Too high, and I do not respect other than  the one at Jama Masjid or perhaps at Nizaamuddin. Next, Qureshi  another butcher shop that turns into open air barbecue in the evening finally advised go to Ahaar at Alaknanda market and you will get it ( by the way checked on the telephone at Green Chick on the phone a negative) After five negatives and one circumspect. I had to do it.

Now at Ahaar the owner politely send there were 12 in the morning and somebody picked them all up. I was now figuring out somebody is picking a whole lot of brains in South Delhi. I was now obsessed, had to have it and have it my way. Ankur the owner said I will home deliver them as soon as they arrive. I said okay and waited like the allies waited before the Normandy landing.

Arrived two smart brains costing a mere Rs40 each and got going with a pan- chopped onions-blanched tomatoes-onion garlic paste- juliennes of ginger and green chilli voila with the smartest pan cooked brain fry. Suddenly Sunita the Nepali maid threw a scare in the Siliguri Darjeeling hills anyone with parents alive does not eat this and she refused to eat though helped me cook it. I thought deeply and said I am sharing it with my parents and let it pass as folklore and indulged anyway. Magnificent dish even if I were to say  so myself. Shared it with my colleagues Krish, Amitava and Suchana incidentally all Bengalis and pretty much hard core  meat eaters and my partners in crime in some of the escapades.

Moral of the story, Offal’s are good they are gourmet as well as nourishment for protein starved nation one man’s meat is another man’s poison does and does not hold good always. Cheers



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kundapur Cuisine....... Bangalored at Nama Mane

Nama  Mane………………. Bangalored with Kundapur Cuisine

Nama Mane…… means  "My House"

In North and Western India an eating joint owner has a photograph with Shahrukh Khan the place is a hit. Down south, if the place has a photograph of Rajnikant you are mostly assured of a good meal. We were eating at a Mallu joint on the erstwhile tony area of Brigade Road in Bangalore. Eating decent Biryani followed by Parothas and Brain Curry followed by Sulaimani Chai. This, local affordable exotica for the journeying salesman was on my recommendation. I had thrown the gauntlet at my team, they accepted the challenge and wanted to now show me around with a counter attack.

The volley was fired by Abhijit, Rajbansh and Sunanth they first invited me to Nama Mane a small eating place where the food comes in vans and is dispersed in thalis in a tiny dining hall and outside tables.  We had just returned from The Ham shop, at MG Road , bought three kinds of sausages, Goan, Spicy and Plain (spicy was the best) and Salami and Ham, superlative…. an over  70 year old shop , more of that later.

Now, Nama Mane serves Kannadiga Food, which can be classified predominantly as:

1)      The Udupi… Vegetarian food (Udupi District)

2)      The Mangalorean…. Coastal food with Coconut and Kokum (Mangalore District)

3)      The Kundapur Food…..  a little Muslim cuisine, Maratha and local Kannadiga ( Mysore and around)

4)      The Coorgi Food…. Game, pork, spicy ( Coorg- of course)

Nama Mane is  more the Kundapur style but serves Ragi Balls with  Curried lamb chops, Biryani rice with Chilly Chicken (my favorite, it’s not Chinese as the name suggests), rice with Special Chicken they also do  liver fry, mutton fry,kidneys, intestine and brain all curried and fry versions. It is located opposite Mallige Hospital on the Crescent Road close to the Bangalore Golf Club. The lads had already done course full of organ meats and were waiting for us for round two I was one round one they on round two. Whilst, I ate hungrily, they ate elegantly.

The food is superlative, it’s piping hot, chicken and lamb dishes are to die for spicy, flavorful, comes with an onion and cucumber raita. I was also introduced to the famed ragi balls or ragi mude (balls with the size of tennis balls made out of ground and salted finger millet). The bland ragi balls go very well with the spicy mutton and chicken dishes.

Our Limousine drive, otherwise a veteran of the area did not know the place existed and was excited to share that he had just eaten a childhood favorite if his Ragi mudde with tripe curry (intestine curry).

A fine meal for two with mineral water and Thumbs up is about Rs 350/-. Fantastic and the taste and flavor lingers on.

Advantage, Abhijit, Rajbansh and Sunanth. You probably will win this round. I was so excited about this place that I even took an ex colleague with me to Nama Mane on my next trip to Bangalore. Hats off.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Ganesh Restaurant......... Magnificient Fish

Ganesh Restaurant Karol Bagh…… Aka known as Ganesh Machiwala

In April 2010, on a train to BABINA Cantt ( which incidentally is an acronym for  British Army Base in Native Asia , like MHOW is a backronym for Military Headquarters of War and YOL is for your own lines) Dr Sahil Loomba said you aspire to be food writer hmmm , have you been to Ganesh. I said what? Where? He said sounding trifle surprised and irritated, its Ganesh Macchiwala.

I had to go there; I was reminded again in a cavalcade of cars coming from Chandigarh in November 2012, with Kareena Kapoor albeit in another car. Arvind Sachdev on a hungry drive back said we have to go Ganesh Machiwala and Gulu Meatwalla (aka Transport Authority Meatwalla, the erstwhile location). My ears stood up like a Doberman pinscher, aching to be there.

Decided to visit Ganesh (images of Lord Ganesha and pious thoughts and the Macchi, fish…….), then thought what the hell Mumbai as so many Shetty bars and Non Vegitarian restaurants named after, Lakshmi, Mahesh, Vishnu, Sri Krishna. So why act holier than thou in the cow belt.

Saddled up with the lads Sanjay Saini and Abhijeet Singh, first stop the Air Force Golf Club (near The Race course)…….. A few beers and a Bloody Mary………. Admired cars at Ferrari and Jaguar/ Land Rover, dealerships……. Bought outdoor gear, Coleman Cooling Pack and a Camp stool at Trekkers Point In CP. Trekked it to the only smoking bar. Stood at the bar saloon style after a while the Hombres got a table. Tumbled a few whiskies at tea time. Basically, beer,  fast cars, outdoor gear and a smoky bar.

All set and primed for Ganesha, here we come, down Panchkuian road to Karol Bagh , at the crossroads of Gurudwara Road stood unpainted and no named corner restaurant, insignificant. It’s nearly Eight pm and the crowd around is significant. We find a parking slot. We are served magnificently , simple order  ½ Kg fried fish, 4 Egg Pakoras and Seekh Kabab and Roomali Roti.

Magnificient, crisp from outside, soft and flaky Surmai chunks of fantastic Fish. The Egg Pakoras cut in halves again very nice. We are silent and then we have the lamb….. the seekh kabab…… soft succulent not over flavored all brilliant. After a long time we have eaten on a bonnet of a car. Washed down with a Thumbs Up.

Good food great friends and a nip in the air…… Nothing better.
See Facebook page:here

Look out for Gullu Meatwalla.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mohabbat in Malerkotla

Mohabbat at Malerkotla:

Malerkotla in Punjab had a 70% muslim population which is now approx 55%.It is reported to have have had communal harmony before partition, during partition later under the Nawab of Malerkotla and right until now.

I had to go there, Colonel Tiwana my CO was from there, we got our accoutrements, cap badges, zari name tabs, ceremonial flags from Malerkotla.

Many years ago on a flight I read the Namaste magazine (for Alliance Air) published by Chandan Mitra on the legendary Bhatti Murgh. The pictures looked nice it was baked in a industrial size oven used for making breads and biscuits. More research on the internet led  to another article in Outlook Magazine to Ebrahim Rahis’ legendary Bhatti Murgh. Now, the trip was planned to go to Patiala and a trip to friends farm near Sangrur.

The options we now had were, Malerkotla to check out Ebrahim Rahi’s Bhatti Murgh ( about 40 kms from the farm) or Kulwant Singh’s Royal Atta Chicken at Kotkapura (this was about 70kms from the friends farm). Everyone discouraged us to go to Kotkapura (will leave it for another discourse)

We enter Malerkotla we are guided to the Sufi Dargah….. our destination is pre-determined Bhatti Murgh. We stop at a Muslim Dhaba, the owner a Mianji with cap and beard speaks in chaste Punjabi we find the town cool food everywhere on Stalls in Deghs in Dhabas. We inch close we seek directions from Sultan Dhaba…. Its evening…. We see big burly sardars partaking alcohol and eats at a Muslim Dhaba. We find that really cool. The whole town shows a easy relaxed bonhomie, hence the Hindu Muslim  Sikh Mohabbat in Malerkotla and food contributes a lot. Also, we chased the gourmet trail like paramour hence Mohabbat at Malerkotla.

Fellow travelers Abhijeet Singh and our host’s son Angad Singh inch up close to Kamal Cinema and enquire from Rahi Sweets and bakers and we are guided to a large courtyard and present ourselves to Ebrahim Rahi and ask for the Bhatti Murgh,

He sizes us and says, I have not fired the bhatti (oven more like a kiln) ever since his Walid (father) expired. We are disappointed to say the least. He says, Hang on I can fix things I am going to make similar stuff and you will not know the difference we yield. We anyway can’t tell the difference as we have only seen pictures. We are hungry and he gets to work, a small distinguished gent with specs, looks more like a middle aged bank clerk. He speaks and works with the same agility.

We are presented the piece-de resistance in a noveau style, first steamed and then lightly fried. He also offers a lemon chicken. Keep's emphasizing very little oil. Very little oil we thought this was the cholesterol capital with all the food on the streets as an approach march.

We dig in, superlative, soft flavorful, crumbles enchanting moments the new or modified Bhatti murgh is superlative. We try the healthier lemon chicken it’s tangy and ordinary though it travels better than the bhatti murgh. We eat, chat and chat more with him he does all the talking. Talks about his father's and then his gastronomic quests and conquests. We enquire about our commercials; he politely refuses and then accepts. We eat some and we pack and take back some for accompaniments with Glenlivet.

Quick quiz what do you know about the Atta chicken at Kotkapura ?



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cold Lahore Nights...... Food De- mystified

Lahore ..... Winter of 2012

The GT Road goes through Khasa, I see my room in the officers mess on the first floor. There is some excitement, curiosity of visiting Lahore.  I have visited all our neighbors, only Pakistan was an unfulfilled task from the corporate point of view. Definitely one big agenda from a personal view point as both my parents had lived in Pakistan… my father was 19 and my mother was 9 when they left Pakistan (with their respective families) during India and Pakistan partition in 1947. My daughter was tense about my visit, so was my mother, wife, father, brother and others were cool but excited.

As I walked through the border, the first utterance of the tall and well built Ranger (equivalent to the Indian Border Security Force) was, Mianji Idhar aa jaiye. (Pakistanis’s from Punjab refer to Indian Muslims as Mianji  not respectfully almost in a derogatory way).

Reeling from the slow painful and dirty border formalities on the Indian side, the cleanliness and efficiency from the Pakistanis  in  handling  of the paper work was almost a surprise. The only thing amiss, very few people in uniforms e.g man introduces himself as the Deputy Superintendent of Customs….. I thought he was a porter or a dubious money changer. That is the veil of deception at the border outpost.

We enter, the driver Patras says call me Peter, works sometimes with our host, a pastor on Sundays and also carries a Government employee card from the Soil survey of Pakistan…… talk about deception. It’s my circumspect attitude to the erstwhile home where my ancestors were unceremoniously driven out with a midnight knock or is it really the way I sound. Too early I have been in Pakistan territory, only a few minutes I should be cool and watch the way. So Peter says,” you have Tata, we have Bata “as we bypass Batanagar in the outskirts of Lahore. Subsequently, noticed Bata  and Hush Puppies have a serious presence in Pakistan.

Is this a food blog or what, it is turning into a comment on the society. As food is part of the fabric called society. Eating  in or Eating out is part of that fabric. So the Hotels we lived in was part Le Meriden new Delhi, part The Ashoka  New Delhi and part The Oberoi Towers in Mumbai put them all in a blender and you have The Pearl Continental, Lahore affectionately called PC  the Governor Of Punjab to the humble Auto Rickshaw driver.

We venture out the first night after drinking Murree Classic Beer from the only distillery in Murree ( a hill station) set in 1861, whilst Dyer Meakin later called Mohan Meakins was set up in 1855 in Kasauli. The beer is full bodied and dark almost like an Ale ( In a can as well as bottle). Like everywhere else I liked the one in a bottle. Followed by a Murree 12 year old single malt…. I have a reservation against single malts a little peaty cannot drink enough of it.

Now the meal a first Lahore meal outdoors (indoors does not count), reached Lakshmi Chowk yes Lakshmi Chowk found a place near BUTTS (Bakers and Sweets set up in 1947), an expanse of street food joints the format is as follows:

A)     Buy your meat (mutton), or Chicken have it cooked in the way you like served in Tasla  made of Iron a large Wok ( Punjabi Curries, more with Tomato and Ginger)

B)      Kababs…. Mutton Tikka, Seekh Kabab and the beef variants, Chicken legs etc etc ( North West  Province)

C)      Tak-a-Tak  Gridle, a large tawa, cooks, Keema, Brain, Kidney, Testicles, Innards all organ meats, Chops, Chicken you name it. With butter tomatoes, masala green chillies. This format , we  understand  from earlier researches comes from Africa. The tak-a-tak is the sound that they make when tossing and turning on the gridle which makes a musical cacophony, which has even inspired  ring tones on the mobile phones.

D)     Large and long fillets of river fish, many in Punjabi fried with chickpea floor in a large karahi. Wok. Soft flaky fish.

In attendance, you have masseurs, singers and musicians while your food cooks. It is man thing pretty much like everything else to please the feudal lord in reality or in his head. The next stop is  usually the t danseuses domain Heera  Mandi.  Even the driver of the 5 star hotel’s politely asked us would we like to go, we politely refused.

On the food at Laxmi chowk we  ate seekh kabab, boti kabab and rotis followed with a brain and kidney tak-a- tak luscious masala, butter, tomatoes light spices. Fantastic taste and experience. Soon, we were craving for something sweet. We walk into the sweet shop, copious amount of various halwas. We see it like it. Hang on ! The Gajar Halwa ( Carrot Pudding) is garnished with sliced boiled eggs. Sweet and candied  stuff with boiled eggs, some other time. Elsewhere, poor man’s meal an Aloo ki tiki ( Potatoe chop with  eggs. We hogged out a fantastic meal for Pakistani Rupees 600 includng tips which is nearly Indian Rs 325. Not bad foran evening out

My Grandfather often started his stories “ when I Was the SHO ( Station House Officer) of the Old Anarkali- Police Station. I had to go to Purani ( Old) Anarkali. We walked from the mouth of the street, streets are clean, business closing down for the day, a bazaar of shoes and slippers, Then the eating joints, we see a very wide street, some very large cauldrons on the street. We then reach a rustic place and then a fancy place and as usual we go to the rustic place with rustic prices. Well the found was ordinary the service was good the format was pretty similar to the previous night. On the way in and out along the bazaar say footwear stores called, Khussa (in rustic Punjabi means slippers)., Also on the way were very large Deghs of Aluminium with Biryani and Paya Curry called Kharodas.

Now, for the last evening called  Cuckoos den……. This is the upmarket street food brought in from vendors and stalls and served piping on acold terrace, heated with gas heaters. The food ordinary, the view magnificient of the Bara Masjid  squeeky clean environs.  The old parts pof the city are also very clean. Good.

So that’s that on the food in Pakistan.