Ever since the closure of Aap Ki Khatir a few months ago,there has been a dearth of good Mughlai food in Khan market. Sure,Khan Chacha is there but its days of glory are more or less past. Besides,one would imagine Delhis favourite food to have a much wider representation in one of the citys favourite markets. So,we were quite excited to hear about Arza Bibi Kebabs in the outer lane.
The restaurant is a tiny,ground-floor establishment with the same service set-up as Khan Chachas,although the interiors are much more salubrious with bright half-tiled walls and kitschy low-seating furniture. Pop music plays loudly,shifting between the 90s boy bands and contemporary songs without any compunction.
The menu is limited,perhaps excessively so. Essentially,there are five types each of vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs and the same number in rolls. There is also a section of Arza Specials,all of which were unavailable,except for the chicken biryani.
We started with the mushroom tikka,supplemented by a chicken biryani and a mutton kakori roomali roll. There are no desserts and the beverages are limited to aerated drinks. We waited for our number to flash on the screen,which took a surprisingly short time. The mushrooms were fiery hot,the spicy marination intensified by the copious sprinkling of chat masala. Apart from the subsequent fire in the belly,they were quite good a nice way to start a meal. Unfortunately,it was all downhill after that. The rice,which was the seemingly requisite shade of red that biryani has to be in the city,was under-seasoned,in fact tasteless,after the mushrooms. The chicken was equally insipid.
Then,there is the kakori kebab roll. To make no bones about it,it was terrible. Kakori kebabs are supposed to melt in your mouth even as you close your eyes and pay your respects to the departed creator of this fabulous dish. This one was over-stuffed with onions and the kebab itself was dry and definitely not melting-in-the-mouth types. Even though they managed to get the taste right,half the joy in a kakori kebab comes from its velveteen texture,which was missing here. Arza Bibis rendition resembles nothing more than a seekh kebab.
The management and chefs also need to get their act together. The restaurant business,in general,has a failure rate exceeding 70 per cent and if Arza Bibi doesnt want to be part of that unfortunate majority,it needs to get its food right. And fast.
Meal for two: Rs. 500 (inclusive of taxes) Address: Shop no. 15/B,Khan Market Contact: 41515874