In a nutshell:
Outstanding Nihari, nalli & few other traditional Mughal food in a simple setting with warm people & fast service.
How to get there: Get into the lane perpendicular to Gate no. 1 of Jama Masjid. Keep walking till u reach a ‘y’ point. Take the road on the left – almost in the same direction as u were walking. U will an old gate to a Haveli on ur left. Walk into the gate & on ur left is Haji Shabrati Nihariwale.
The smartest thing to do is to take a rickshaw from Chawri Bazar metro station & entrust him with all the above details. U shud be there in not much time.
Meal for 2:Rs. 150 onwards (see rate chart as of July 2012)
Timings: Summers – 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm (best time to go 7.00 to 8.00), Winters 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm. The shop is shut at all other times.
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
In case eating out for u includes ‘ambience’ / ‘professional service’ as a must ,pls do not go here. If ‘eating = health food’ for u, I wud strongly advice u not to even think of going here. However, if u r a foodie & believe that there is only one life & we shud make the best out of it, u must give this a try. Ur tastebuds will thank u for taking them to Haji Sharbati. All u will maybe need to do is to increase ur dosage of cardio exercises the following week.
The shop is very old & does not seem to have been renovated for years. Everything there seems to have stood the test of time. Even the signboard outside the shop had almost turned black due to the smoke of the ovens. There are elements that might look messy but no one really cares. People come, wait in queues, eat & go.
As u stand outside the shop u see a huge Handi (metal cooking container) fixed to the oven with clay atop a platform that is almost 2.5 feet high & an elderly gentleman sitting besides it & serving the contents to eating plates. Behind him is a tandoor & a guy sitting there is constantly making tandoori rotis here.
The platform (with the tandoor) covers half the shop & the rest is the sitting area.
The furniture is as basic as it can get.
The guy who serves the food is just another Human being & his responses are exactly like that – unlike trained restaurant waiters who are smiling & polite even when yelled at. My smile & friendly behaviour ensured that he treated us like his personal guest & we really had a good time.
The food rules – This is one of the best Niharis I have had so far. The gravy beats the Karim’s one hands down. The meat at Karim’s is slightly better textured than at Haji Shabrati.
Detailed description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
For the uninitiated, Nihari is red meat curry cooked overnight / for xtra long hours in slow fire with spices & herbs. That ensures that the juices of the meats, spices & herbs intermingle & give birth to a unique & awesome taste. Check the link for what Wiki has to say about Nihari & its history.
All meat served at this shop is beef – nihari, nalli (bone marrow) & bheja (brain). This is served with freshly made tandoori roti.
We ordered nihari & nalli with tandoori roti. I was not sure how the nalli wud turn out to be but I was pleasantly surprised & loved it.
The nihari gravy was awesome – thick, spicy, mildly hot & full of flavors. It was many shades better than the nihari gravy at Karim’s. However, since the meat was from a much larger animal, the texture of meat was not as good as that in Karim’s (uses mutton). The meat at Haji Shabrati was soft, tasty, full of flavors but it retained the fibrousness – interesting combination of fibrous but soft. The Karim’s one is mostly non-fibrous.
Every time I eat such food, I wonder why most of the mid segment Indian restaurants fail to offer this level of taste – coz they cook the meats & gravy separately.
Nalli – Since we had reached early, we saw the bone marrow being extracted in the open kitchen. It was then curried off quickly. I have never had anything like this & this was just too good. The flavor & taste of this curry was different from that of the nihari.
Needless to say both the above dishes were very oily – pure desi ghee to be precise. But that is what made the spices mild & the taste good.
The rotis were not served together. For two of us one roti was being served at a time so that even the last bite of the roti is warm. The guy serving us was constantly watching us & was getting in a hot roti every time we were about to finish the old one.
I was too full to try the bheja here – did not like it much last time at Karim’s.
Overall – Wud surely go back here to eat again. I guess winter wud b a better time to go here as the food wud b more enjoyable.