Meal for two: Rs 1,500 (including taxes)
Address: C 23-24, SDA Market.
Literally in one corner of SDA Market, Nukkad can be accessed through a pair of swing doors, which open out into an unexpected verandah at the end of one of the many lanes that bisect the burgeoning food hub in south Delhi. Unexpected because most of the eateries in the market are cubicles with seating spilling out on to the pavements.
Shaded by a neem tree on which hang a clattering of kettles the veranda is a snug space, littered with wooden tables and sofas to sink into, which doubles up as a performance space in the evenings, the entertainment on offer being folksy acoustic music in vernacular. The inside dining space is similarly rustic, with wooden seating, lamps set on bicycle wheels and a general backdrop of yeh desh mera, buttressed by the soft strains of Sufi Muzak dripping out of the speakers.
The food menu navigates its way around various streets around the country and their myriad foods. As we’re still in Delhi, Butter Chicken is everywhere from the pasta to the pizza. Stumbling between the various paths we set the Chilli Chicken Tandoori Momos, Butter Chicken Croquettes and Stuffed Mushrooms as our initial landmarks.
The first to appear are the mushrooms, served in a cast iron frying pan, gamely seared in garlic and chilli to a satisfying caramel brown with a velveteen texture. The chicken croquettes spring up next, seemingly in a bit of a cultural crisis. Served with a zesty hari chutney, the croquettes are more like pakodas comprising deep fried balls of besan enveloping dessicated strands of butter chicken, the former unfortunately completely overpowering the latter; all is ultimately lost in translation.
The momos come up last and are rather like your typical Bollywood potboiler in that there’s a lot going on in that single platter. A sullen radioactive red, the momos have a lot of heat from the chicken under the firm grasp of a roasted momo sheet with copious amounts of masala provided by a generous dusting of Chaat Masala; spicy kharre onions are present in a side roll. Adore it or abhor it, you simply can’t ignore it.
Simple rhyming aside, we manage to avoid the temptation of butter chicken for the mains, instead getting the Mutton Rogan Josh with Tandoori Roti, mindful of Jiggs Kalra’s note that mutton is best had with a plain roti. The Kashmiri curry comes thick and fiery with tender chunks of meat falling off the bone, which we mop up with the crisp roti to much satisfaction.
Dessert is a more contemporary affair, to wit a Brownie a la Mode; its standardised comfort a perfect foil to the razzmatazz flavours of the streets.
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