Monday, January 21, 2013

The View from Up There - Club India of Paharganj

I had a couple of hours to burn before checking out of my hotel and head down to the train station for my 2 PM ride to Mumbai, this city of Bollywood dreams, flashy cars and behemoth squatter’s area. Though not particularly hungry, I knew I had to feed myself something agreeable for my southeast Asian stomach. Otherwise, it would have to be another serving of rotis and dhals. I took a leisurely walk along Paharganj until I noticed an intersection. To my left was a sign that beckoned: Club India Café and Restaurant. I had to climb several flight of steps until I reached 4th – or was it 5th – floor. It was empty. I was the only customer at a time when customers were supposed to do lunch. Moreover, the place looked a bit more upscale than most. There were guitars, paintings and photos of Bob Marley adorning the walls – so thematic pertinence wasn't lost on me.  


A Chinese looking lady beamed her pearly whites, her skin sallow, and her grin welcoming. She handed the menu. Hmmm… pricey indeed. Without batting an eyelash, I was seduced by the name: Hyderabadi Mutton Biryani. And wouldn't I love to name drop: “I had Hyderabadi cuisine in India.” How many tourists can say that? J Trouble was, I wasn't sure what “mutton” was. Someone later mentioned “goat meat” and any reservations of partaking goat meat become moot and academic. It’s all been eventually consumed, digested, and, pardon me, excreted. I heaved a sigh of relief when another foray into a dictionary mentioned “sheep”, i.e. the meat of a domestic sheep. For connoisseurs, it turns out that meat from a sheep one year old or younger is called “lamb”, while older meats are called “mutton” or “hoggett”. Don’t we just love the semantics behind carnivorous gastronomy? While “lambs” are more tender, “muttons” are supposed to be tastier because they contain higher concentrations of species-characteristic fatty acids. True enough, my “mutton” was tasty. Of course, at the time of consumption, I was simply, albeit ignorantly, masticating on what I thought was a regional term for porcine or bovine meat. How naive and misinformed was I, right?

Food took a while to get served. I had enough time to wistfully watch the flurry of activities from the balcony. Club India charges more for their view down below; not for their masterful cooking. Trip Advisor is, in fact, filled with disgruntled customers; some even on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But I was fortunate to be there alone, thus service was impeccable, if a tad sluggish – considering I was its lone customer. My 110-rupee biryani (This Persian-derived term refers to a set of rice-based food made with spices, basmati rice and chicken, fish, egg, or vegetable) was in fact more than edible. It had fried egg on top of it. My (hard boiled) egg curry – at 60 rupees – was a redundant dish since I already had egg on my plate. And my Coke was a hefty 20 rupees, instead of the usual 10 or 15 rupees. It wasn't unforgettable, but I won’t complain about it.

As for the view from the terrace, it sure was worth more than 190 rupees.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Hyderabadi Mutton Biryani: goat or sheep?

My 60 rupee egg curry.

Club India Cafe and Restaurant is located at 4797, Main Bazaar, Pahara Ganj , near 6 Tooti Chowk, New Delhi 

I could see Hotel Shelton and its rooftop restaurant where I had dinner the night before.

That's a lot of flat breads.

Arriving in Delhi

Rickshaw Ride in Delhi


Twin said...

Mutton is mostly lamb to us. Chicken biryani is the safest for you to eat. I love Indian food. There's an authentic Indian resto & temple near my place so I get to satisfy my craving for these spicy foods :)

eye in the sky said...

@ Twin:

Biryani is pretty common everywhere, even in Myanmar. I didn't know there's a Hindu Temple near your place. Hmmm that may be worth a visit. :)

Mom with a Dot said...

Those guavas look yummm!! Would love to grab afew just now! LOL!

NRIGirl said...

That's interesting! Love the aerial view of the scenes around.

Here's my 2 cents on mutton vs. Lamb:

Mutton is goat meat; lamb is sheep meat.
Sheeps are fluffy with wool while goats look clean shaven. Goat meat is more delicious than sheep meat as the latter has a unique smell - to me it smells like wool.

eye in the sky said...

@ Mom with a Dot:

I wouldn't mind a guava too. LOL

eye in the sky said...

@ NRIGirl:

Tastes like wool? Haha. Made me crack up. If that's the case, then I've already tasted goat's meat (which isn't bad). I'd wish it's a sheep though. Goat meat is eaten in my country while lamb is considered a little more upscale for gastronomy. I am not sure why since both animals are quite common here. :)