Cost for two: 700 (approx)
Location: Matia Mahal Bazaar, opposite to gate 1 of Jama Masjid
Must tries: Mutton Biriyani, Shami and Shikh Kebabs
After a harrowing rickshaw journey through the lanes of Purani Dilli, in which yours truly turned a believer, we reached gate 1 of Jama Masjid. Before us stood the majesty of the 17th century Friday mosque and at the opposite side Bazaar Matia Mahal, the road to culinary heaven. The lane was home to the best and the second best Mughlai restaurants in the city. While Karim’s is the hyped offering of the lane, Al Jawahar is the other option that is its equal in the business, if not superior.
As with other Old Delhi restaurants, the ambience is nothing to speak of in the very traditional sense of the word. There is no subtle lighting and slow music. While it is not the most hygienic joint in the town, it still is one of the cleanest places to have Mughlai food in the place of its origin. We ordered Shaami Kebabs, Shikh Kebabs, Mutton Achaar Biriyani, Brain Curry and Chicken Jahangiri, of which the last was delivered late because the waiter forgot that we ordered it in the first place. Vegetarians don’t really get a lot to choose from in most of the eateries in the old quarters and our vegetarian friend had to do with Dal Fry and Mutter Pulao.
The first thing that hits you when the food is served is the aroma. The Kebabs were the perfect starters and melted in the mouth the moment you popped them in, leaving behind a faint smoky taste. The Biryani was delectable in ways words can’t describe. Given its name, each bite had a pleasant overtone of the achaar, while the mutton was just perfect, not so soft that it fails to register its texture while not that chewy that you tire yourself out over it. It was our first time with having brain as food and for the ones who have not had it yet, it tastes like eggs. Yes. The curry had a creamy gravy and the brain (yes, it feels weird even writing it) surprisingly delicious. While the chicken felt a little under cooked, the gravy it came suspended in more than made up for it. Finish off your Old Delhi meal with a Meetha Samosa and Rabri Falooda from the sweetmeat shops nearby.
Image Credit: Souvik Das Gupta on Flickr