The Chor Bizarre is a restaurant located in the Broadway Hotel in Old Delhi. While it's menu covers food from all over India, it specializes in Kashmiri food. The highlight of Kashmiri food is the Wazwaan, a multicourse meal (36 courses to be exact) consisting of a lot of meat preparations. The food is served on a large, ornamental metal platter called ‘Tarami’ and is meant to be shared communally. This gem of a restaurant has been in the capital for 25 years and is a bit of an icon. I can't believe I've never visited! Just shows you what a novice I am when it comes to food :)
To commemorate their 25th year, Chor Bizarre has organized a Pop up in Drift, in Epicenter, Gurgaon, (running for a limited time, until 30th September) and I was lucky enough to be invited to sample some of the delicious fare on offer. The Pop up was curated by Mr Rajiv Kumar Malhotra , executive Chef at Old World Hospitality and an expert in understanding the minor nuances that differentiate the Kashmiri Pandit and Kashimiri Muslim styles of cooking. The food celebrates the culinary traditions of both the Pandit and Muslim communities of Kashmir.
I am not at all knowledgeable about Kashmiri food, so for me the chance to get even a small understanding of this style of food was an incredible experience and one that I will cherish for quite a while.
Nadru Churma or crispy fried lotus stem
For starters we were served Nadru Churma or crispy fried lotus stem with a mooli (raddish), yogurt and walnut chutney called Munj Chatin. I normally despise mooli, but I loved this dip where the mooli was so subtle and the walnuts added a nice crunch and richness. We also had some Kashmiri mutton sheekh kebab which just melted in the mouth, and was one of the highlights of the meal.
Kashmiri Mutton Sheekh Kebabs and Nimbu Murg Tikka flavoured with lemon grass
After a few more starters, we were presented with a traditional Kashmiri Thali or Tarami. Courses included haaq (a green leafy vegetable from the mustard/cabbage family), Gushtaba (hand pounded meat balls), Roganjosh, Rajma, Tabakmaaz (style grilled lamb ribs that are so tender they fall of the bone), Nadru Yakhni (lotus stem cooked in a thin yogurt gravy with mild spices like cardamom, ginger and clove and dried mint), Dum aloo, Khatte Baingan and Mutton Yakhni. The platter consists of a few of the courses all served on a bed of fragrant, steaming rice and covered with an ornate dome shaped metal lid. Other courses are served as the meal progresses which ensure that one gets to savour the meal and each course slowly.While I enjoyed the flavors of the delicious food in front of me, I remembered a meal I had years ago in a home of a Kashmiri friend of mine. One of the best things about good food is that just a tiny mouthful can take you back in time to a moment in the past and it seems like you are experiencing that moment all over again.
The meal is quite filling so you must go on an empty stomach, and remember to keep some space for some traditional Kashmiri dessert and Kahwa tea, a traditional Kashmiri tea flavoured with saffron and almonds.
Shoofta, Phirni & Kulfi
The Chor Bizarre Pop up is at Drift, Epicenter until the end of September and you must visit to experience some of their signature dishes and to get a taste of Kashmir. Enjoy the delicious, simple food, that is subtly spiced and flavored and cooked with lots of love and attention.
[All images by Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]