the-south-asian.com August 2004
Culture & History
Lehngas - a limited collection
Heaven and Hell
THE ‘MINU CARRAD’ TALE
Ever studied the Minu Carrad of a highway dhaba? For brake-fast you can have Tost-Buttar or Buttar-Slaice, for lunch and dinner there’s a choice between Chainis Chowmen or Stuff Paranthas and Nov Raton Carry…..
The gastronomic pleasures afforded by the delicacies in a North Indian dhaba have often been well matched by the mirth afforded by their presentation - either on a much-thumbed `Minu Carrad' or by an enthusiastic waiter over-anxious to parrot out the entire `minu' in a sing song mouthful.
How can I ever forget my recent trip to Shimla and the lovely brake-fast I had at Joginder Da Dhaba at Kandaghat - a picture postcard hill resort enroute. Beginning with Milk Born Vita a choice I made against Milk Chock-late and ending with cofi.
Having been advised by the wife to keep a strict eye on the rapidly increasing girth, I made a great effort to keep away from mouthing the Klob Sandwich and Cheeze Cutlaiz and was well rewarded for planning to eat the Plan Tost.
Having enjoyed the delectable dishes and the menu we decided to push our culinary luck further by sticking to dhaba food over our weekend sojourn in and around the hill resort.
At lunch at Shimla’s Alishan Dhaba, I suppose it was the wife’s maternal instinct that made her go in for Mater Panier, wondering all the while whether Pater Chikkan shouldn't be ordered to couple with it.
Of course, my decision to try out the Pamflet was in keeping with my love for feesh. I kept my heart away from Livvar in mortal fear of indigestion. After all, who wants to feel like a Stuff Omlet!
Later in the night after knocking back a few Baccardis, I became more adventurous and ventured into Shere-Punjabi in Shimla’s Lower Bazar. Here I had a fill of my all-time favourite Beriyani and Dahi Riayta. Though I would have loved a spot of Dam Aloo the wife insisted that I try the local stuff----Shimla Mirach Stuff!
Lip Smacking Men
On our way back from Shimla we made a halt at Purshotam Lal Da Mushoor Dhaba at Murthal. The dhaba is mashoor for its Indian and Chainis. I have often paid my respects to Chainis. I must admit I prefer Chikkan Chow-men to Vagitable Chow-men or Egg Chow-men, though the wife feels all men are the same. Which explains why more often than not I settle for Mixy Chow-men.
Other delights on the menu included Sweet Cron Soop, Nodle-Mash-Room, Chop Sooee and Chicken done any which way you liked--Garlec. Lamon or Hot Cheely Sos. There was Spl. Rushan Salaad and to say nothing of the dessert - Leechee Kustod.
The wife preferred to stick to Indian food under the heading Vigitaryan Speciltys. Here you could mutter words or alternatively you could Mutter Paneir, unless sage-like, you Seek Kabab. Spishil mention must be made of the Stuffted Tomatos and Stuffted Potatoos which sounded – no, tasted - out of this world with Podinna Parratta. I regret not having tried out the Nov Raton Carry.
At Shahbad’s Retired Fauji Da Dhabi just don't get confused about the minimum number of persons required to hold a board meeting. When hungry and tired go ahead and relish the Quoruma. Order it, order it, unless your test buds respond better to Muttin Ishtiu. Though word has it that what is good for the grey cells is Brian Masala.
Now we all have our moods that dictate the nature of the food we like from the plate. On another occasion when I was up to my eye-balls with Chainis and Indian food, I went across to this small restaurant near Karnal and opened the third page - the one listing Conti-natal Food.
After spending a few confused and distressing seconds to ascertain whether the Conti-natal had no connection with Pro-natal or Post-natal pregnancy, I ran an eye through the list. Cocktel Sausaze and Buttar Slaice, a pretty nice affair I decided - and only Rupees 40. By the end of the meals I was inspired to hazard a guess that the food I had just had was not continental due to the absence of lentils.
I am presently sitting in another Dashmesh dhaba near Panipat anticipating my exotic order---roasted meat with black pepper. No prizes for guessing what it is called in the menu---Meet Paper Rost!
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