It’s been a while since I dined at a Dhaba. After Bobby Da Dhaba moved from Ulsoor, I haven’t even ventured to any place with the name ‘dhaba’ attached to it! Having the iconic Delhi restaurant – Dhaba by Claridges opening on 12th Main in Indiranagar, was definitely a sign to flex my memory. We walked up the stairs that day and were bemused to see milestone markers on the walls, up to the restaurant on the second floor. Bangalore was missing a casual North Indian restaurant that serves up some delhi-style cuisine, and Dhaba by Claridges hits the spot!
The restaurant greets you with what I like to call – Truck Art. Anyone who has driven on the highway behind a bunch of trucks, will know exactly what I’m talking about! The quirky colorful décor, rattan chairs and wooden benches do evoke the feel of a dhaba, albeit a very pimped up one. I’m sure no one in an actual dhaba puts up a performance, but the staff here breaks into Bollywood jigs in between courses. It’s vastly entertaining and definitely puts the diners in a good mood, so I’m not complaining!
There are some Dhaba favourties on the menu like Amritsari Fish, Chicken Tikka, Aloo Wadi, Rajma, Bheja Masala and Aloo Ghobi, but the menu also has your North Indian restaurant staples like Butter Chicken, Mutton Seekh, Chilli Paneer and Butter Naans. Roll up your sleeves and prepare to indulge yourself – with this much butter, it’s hard not to!
The drinks menu is decidedly exciting. With names like Toofan, Gulaabo, Rangeela and Basanti, the restaurant serves up some mean cocktails with ingredients like kala khatta, tamarind, guava juice, coriander and other spices. I loved the Toofan with Vodka, Guava juice and spices while my friend couldn’t get enough of the tangy Imli Bai. The Paan Mojito was a revelation, with Bacardi and fresh Paan mixed into the drink for a heady concoction.
We started with the Tandoori Bhune Aloo, a double whammy of roasted and then shallow fried potatoes dressed with onions, spices and the delectable saunth chutney. The Galouti Kebab with melt in the mouth lamb mince cutlets, sat pretty on a tawa paratha. If they had made the paratha flaky instead of chewy, this one could have stolen my heart.
The Amritsari Fish gets you a fillet of sole coated with a spiced gram flour mixture and deep fried. The specialty of this is the tang from the Ajwain or Carom seeds that are endemic to this much-loved seafood dish. The Dhaba Prawns are so delicious and robust, that you would forgive the restaurant for setting false expectations of its availability in a highway dhaba. This is a must order – 4 succulent tiger prawns in a sublime yellow chilli marinade, lovingly grilled to perfection in the tandoor.
The piece de la resistance is the Dhaba Raan. A whole leg of lamb (flown down all the way from Jaipur to retain the authentic taste) is marinated overnight in hand-pounded spices. The cast iron ‘imam dasta’ or mortar imparts a special flavor to spices that dress this beauty that is brought to your table. The platter can easily serve 4-6 people, so order this only if you have big appetites.
I have a general tendency to overdose on the appetizers and leave very little room for the main course. However, you should probably pace yourself because Dhaba offers a very delightful main course spread. The wait staff will recommend the house favourite – Balti Meat. The deep-red, rich mutton curry is a perfect accompaniment to the leavened Dhabe di Roti. The Kanastari Baigan Bharta stands up to it’s meat counterpart with a smoky eggplant mash finished with lovely tomato Bhuna masala.
You might be tempted to order the Paneer Makhni or the Butter Chicken, but try something new with the Chitta Butter Chicken. This one is white instead of orange and has half a chicken marinated in a lightly spiced hung curd marinade and finished in a tandoor. The final dish has the chicken nestled in an onion and yoghurt gravy, spiced with kasoori methi.
The Tiffin Chicken is a full meal in itself and comes in a traditional copper dabba with a serving of ajwain paratha. The chicken reminded me of a cross between a Chinese chilli chicken and a masala chicken stir fry with capsicum. I ordered it for the novelty factor, but will probably not go down that road again.
North Indian restaurant food is a heavy affair and ending it with more ghee laden desserts is definitely a health crime. Badam Halwa, Gulab Jamoon, Rabri and a variety of Kulfi’s will keep you in a food coma for a long time. But since you don’t come here everyday, I say go the whole nine yards!
Dhaba By Claridges,
2nd Floor, #618, (Above Chicco)
12th Main Indiranagar, Bengaluru,
Phone : +91 80 4853 6713
Cost : 2000/++ for a meal for two with drinks
Valet Parking available.