Khansaama in the Walled City is recreating Kallan Bawarchi’s magic recipes and delivering food across Delhi-NCR
It was a matter of izzat or prestige, we’d been told. A friend’s son had got married, and the bride’s party was coming from Lucknow for a reception in Delhi. Now Lucknow-wallahs, as we know, are fiercely proud of their cuisine and convinced that nothing beats Awadhi food. But we Dilliwallahas have our pride, too. So we were told by the groom’s family that we had to ensure the food served at the wedding reception would leave everyone licking their fingers.
What does one do in a situation like this but knock at the doors of Kallan Bawarchi, one of the best ustads of Old Delhi. He agreed to take care of the food. Those who have had his korma and biryani still go ecstatic about it. The reception, I am happy to say, had a table that people recalled for years after.
Kallan is no more, but his descendants haven’t forgotten the magic that he wielded with his karchi and degh. They are still cooking delicious Delhi dishes, as I learnt some days ago.
I received a message from an outlet called Khansaama last week. They offer different kinds of non-vegetarian delicacies from the walled city, and deliver in Delhi-NCR. The food is cooked by three chefs and Kallan Bawarchi’s dishes are among the dishes that it offers.
The food has all the flavours that Old Delhi is known for. The meat in the korma was tender, and the gravy had the mildly sweet taste of fried onions. I loved the stew — meat cooked with yoghurt and onions, and flavoured with red chillies, green chillies, black pepper, cardamom and ginger. The achari gosht — with its tangy, pickle-like taste — was noteworthy as well, and the nihari was good, too. The gravy had soaked in all the flavours of the meat and spices, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, as I dipped a piece of the sweet khamiri roti in.
Mutton seekh kabab at Khansaama in Old Delhi
The seekh kabab, however, needs to be addressed. It was much too dry and rubbery. Seekh kababs can lose their taste if not eaten soon after being taken off the grill. They are best when moist, soft — and hot.
Khansaama was started last year, in the midst of the pandemic, and is going strong. The kitchen, one of the owners Sameer Ahmed tells me, is in Pahari Bhojala in Old Delhi (call 9311611317 or 8595831317 for orders). The food is delivered in earthenware handis, which Khansaama tells us can be used later for plants.
The rates are reasonable. A meat platter for two (₹1,399) consists of korma, nihari, stew, biryani, kabab, rotis and dessert. The platter for two with chicken dishes costs ₹1,050. The Khansaama thhali(₹499) consists of biryani, korma, nihari, kabab, gulab jamun, a khamiri roti and a roomali roti. You can order a full plate or a half plate: korma and nihari (₹499/₹265), biryani (₹500/₹285), mutton stew (₹499/₹265), chicken achari (₹380/₹215). The shahi tukda costs ₹65.
I had a bit of the shahi tukda and went back into time. A community meal now seems like an event from another age. Meanwhile, though, there is always Khansaama.
The writer is a seasoned food critic