The moveable feast : The Indian bounty of Bawarchi


My friend Sanjay Nangia’s Bawarchi in Maharajgunj, opposite the Teaching Hospital, has a clientele of senior doctors and heads of medical departments at lunch time, and a database of free home delivery food comprising 50-60 families at dinner.

Sanjay and his wife Rena own Bawarchi and Sanjay said, “Seeing what’s happening in India, I realise that home deliveries are an expanding niche market, and Indian food is getting hugely popular as Nepal and India come closer.”

New Bawarchis are going to be springing up so Sanjay is increasingly busy and his wife looks after the children at home as well as the Bawarchi in Maharajgunj. Sanjay zooms around spreading the taste of Indian food which he knows well from his years in India.

As we were about to order Sanjay recommended the specialty of an old Calcutta favourite — the Kathi Roll and he said, “The best combination is the egg and chicken combination because the egg moistens the paratha or bread that then makes a delicious envelope for the marinated chicken.” So we had one.

However distant my own Calcutta days, the Kathi Roll was as soft, as succulent and as mildly spiced as I remember them. I tasted my youth. Both the roll and that past of mine were mesmerising. Says Madhur Jaffrey, “The kebabs are generally rolled into flatbreads along with thinly sliced raw onions and sliced green chillies. The flatbread or paratha is spread out on a hot, oiled griddle and an egg broken on it and the meat could be put on either the egg or the other side”.

We avoided the chicken, mutton, fish and paneer platter called the Kebabi Kebabs despite our remembering it as brilliant the first time we had it and moved into Sanjay’s suggestion of the mutton Seekh Kebab, one of my favourites.

Created by the Mughals in Delhi, it’s basically minced meat and almost tandoori spices cooked in a tandoor clay oven. Bawarchi’s Seekh Kebabs have an enviable juiciness which the mint sauce adds too with its mingled tastes. You don’t get a Seekh Kebabs as good as Bawarchi anymore.

Said Sanjay, “The Hyderabadi Biryani is different from other Biryanis in India because it is moist, whereas you eat the others with a yoghurt and onions and chilli mixture.”

The Hyderabadi Biryani we were eating could be devoured in great quantities without anything. It was wondrously delicate with a touch of saffron and the mutton was as tender as a touch: the potatoes are an essential part of the dish and there was a hint of gravy which was uniquely unusual. It was beyond yumptious.

The Chicken Dopiyaza which accompanied the Hyderabadi Biryani was made different by a taste of capsicum. Food writer Camellia Panjabi says of Dopiyazas, “The term describes a dish using twice the normal proportion of onions or in which onions are used twice in the cooking process.”

The soft tasting reduced gravy of the Bawarchi’s Chicken Dopiyaza goes back to its Muslim creator Tipu Sultan and is typically a dish from Bengal. You can go to Bawarchi or you can become a member of that ever growing list of people who call for takeaways and order such timeless delicacies as The Boti Kebabs, The Chicken Butter Masala (Britain’s most popular dish in its Tikka form) or The Kashmiri Rogan Josh which is cooked in its own fat.

To turn your home into an evening of India call 4414855.