‘Have you eaten at Kebab Street?’ I was asked. ‘What? Where?’ was my spontaneous response to the query. You see with so many new restaurants coming to the fore it is difficult at times to keep track. So when there is a recommendation of sorts, yours truly is all ears. ‘It is at Hotel Campal, new cuisine, new Management…’
So here we were seated in the cool confines of the paneled restaurant called Kebab Street Bar and Resto with part owner Mr Mani Wadhwa and his wife Pawni. A unit of the Nirvana Nest, it was Mani’s dream to serve authentic kebabs from Afghan, Peshawar, Lahore, Amritsar, Old Delhi, Lucknow and Hyderabad…boy that is a mouthful. ‘This is pure authenticity,’ Mani states, ‘we are not going to compromise to cater to different tastes.’
Now we are well aware that many restaurants change recipes to cater to the local palate, and believe me many a times it is done to stay in business. So would ‘authentic’ kebabs really work? We were here to try it out.
A platter materialized in front of us….Kakori kebab (long cylindrical minced meat), Chicken Kastoori (marinated with fenugreek), Tandoori stuffed Aloo (sliced roundels of potato encasing raisins and mushrooms), Peshawari chicken (melting moments when bitten). Mani was informing us about the ‘quality and history’ of each preparation…from the soft ‘feeling’ of a Lucknowi kebab to the spicy one of the Hyderbadi. The Tandoori Aloo had its origins in the streets of Old Delhi, and the Lucknowi kebab- Kakori… this is one of the outstanding highlights of the great food tradition from the Awadh region in Uttar Pradesh.
Well whether soft or spicy…those kebabs were mind boggling…a different experience. The meat was minced so fine that it literally ‘slurped’ into the oesophagus leaving a trail of exciting flavors….excellent with drinks…and without too. Mani seemed to have read my mind. ‘we have added Bar and Resto to the name as kebabs are a wonderful snack to go with drinks,’ he says. Snack? Smack-smack…the platter was empty before Joe could take a sip of his ‘Mojito.’ Yes Malhar does mix up some excellent combinations in this bar.
We sat back replete…the kebabs were intoxicating, different and memorable…my salivary juices were still playing around with the after effects of the spices, but the menu has a lot more to offer. We decided on Old favorites…..Chooza Makhanwala (Chicken butter masala), Dum ki Bani Dal (Dal makhani), Nawabi Kulchas (chicken) and Lacchedar Parathas.
But before we started on this culinary voyage, Malhar brought in the ‘house speciality’ from Khandahar. Well it is called Chicken Khandahar. Forget the fact that ‘kebabs’ were essentially Persian in origin and Arabic tradition has it that the dish was invented by medieval Iranic soldiers who used their swords to grill meat over open-field fires. No..No. There has been a lot of thinking over the ingredients going into this recipe. This dish is one to remember. Marinated in Beetroot and a subtle blend of spices, the soft succulent meat spiced up with the sweetness of the beetroot had us begging for more…. a preparation to remember.
And the gravies are not left far behind. A dip of the crispy lacchedar paratha into the old favorites would make us believe that we were dining with the ‘Nawabs’ of yore. Simply delicious and we are given to understand that besides the Tandoori Aloo from Old Delhi there are specialties like the Dahi Kebab, Paneer Malai Kebeb, Hara Bara Kebab a list to satiate all vegetarian palates.
So whether you are in the mood to taste the delicacies from Khandahar, Peshawar or Old Delhi…you need not travel far. There is a street round the corner of Campal, aptly named Kebab Street with rocking music over the weekends, Karaoke on Fridays and on Wednesday’s (believe me when say that on that night ladies get their House drinks free)…it is one street to remember.
Hotel Campal, Opposite Kala Academy
Tel No: 0832 6515228
Highly Recommended: Kebabs – taste the difference