In a nutshell:
Good Kashmiri & other North Indian food served by home-like friendly staff in a well maintained a/c dining hall at prices that surprise.
Address & other Details: Jammu & Kashmir House
Meal for 2: Rs. 250 onwards
Cuisine Type: SomeVegetarian & predominantly Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
The Restaurant is the canteen of Jammu & Kashmir House in Chanakyapuri. Unlike some other states – Assam Bhawan (Jakoi), Odisha Niwas (Dalma) etc, who have let private bodies manage their Canteen professionally, the Canteen at J & K House is still run by the State Government. Food is made based on the occupancy of the Rooms upstairs + some extra for guests like us. The menu varies according to availability of ingredients & also from day to day – to offer some variety to the ‘long stay’ guests.
The Dining hall is small but has very nice & expensive, heavy, pure wood furniture & even the walls have wooden panels that are seen in posh Kashmiri Restaurants / Showrooms. The airconditioning works excellent & was good enough to keep the room chilled while outside it was 42 degrees.
The guy serving us was surely not professionally trained, did not wear gloves, did not shave, did not have a uniform on nor did he wear shoes – he had slippers on. For me none of that made a difference & what overwhelmed us was the fact that he always had a smile on his face, said ‘sab accha hai (all items r good) ’ when asked for suggestions on the menu & made us feel at home. In fact he treated us as if we were guests at his home. With him it was more a human to another human interaction instead of a customer – waiter relationship that u come across in professionally run setups.
So I guess that u have already guessed that there is no printed menu card. Infact there is no blackboard on which the ‘menu of the day’ is written with chalk. The menu is rattled out by the guy serving u.
On the day of our visit, the menu was daal, pumpkin curry, chicken curry, mutton roganjosh & mutton sheekh kabab. I asked ‘what about haaq (a splendid Kashmiri saag preparation) , Gushtaba & Rishta?’ He said ‘We do not have haaq today, we make it at times though. Gushtaba or Rishta is made on special occasions when more guests are expected or can be made on order for a group of 8 – 10 people. Just call a day in advance & ask for it.’ For the uninitiated, Gushtaba & Rishta are Kashmiri meatball curries – one red in color & the other white in color.
The guy also clarified that the meat balls are made in the traditional way – the meat is hand pounded with spices & not on the machine. That made my eyes to glow & my mouth to salivate.
We settled for the kabab, chicken curry & mutton roganjosh………………… & we did not regret at all. Interestingly, 3 nonvegetarian dishes + rice costed us Rs. 350 for 2 people in Delhi!! Quite a steal.
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
The curries are premade & I guess kept on low fire. The kababs are made on the spot & served instantly. So unless u specify, the curry & the rice will come first & the kabab will come much later.
The kabab was intensely spiced, was very tasty but was neither soft nor juicy inside. On top of the kabab was served a hot n spicy ‘freshly made’ sauce with pieces of onions, tomatoes & green chillies. I wud not compare this with the Delhi / Awadhi Kakori kababs that u get in say Karim’s , Al Kausher or Kainoosh as this is of a different type.
The chicken curry was thick, a bit tomato heavy but not tomatoee, spicy but not very hot & quite tasty. The chicken pieces were however a bit less soft than expected – but not bad at all.
The mutton Roganjosh made our day & our 30 km (one way) drive worth. The gravy was much thinner than the chicken curry, the customary saunf flavour was delicate (not overpowering), overall spiciness was good, flavours were superb & the taste excellent. The meat pieces were a marvel – super soft, melt in the mouth, non-fibrous, intense tasting meat that was simply awesome. I wud not say that this was the best roganjosh I have ever had,but this was surely feature among the top 5 of my list.
They do not serve any dessert – so look out for ice cream thelas outside the J & K house.
Overall – Look forward to try the Rishta & Gushtaba but I have to gang up people to reach critical mass for the order (as mentioned above). Loved the food that we had today & will surely keep revisiting.