In a nutshell:
Best Kashmiri Food in Delhi & an unforgettable experience that must not be missed by anyone visiting Delhi specially non Indians & NRIs – a good selection of dishes from the 30+ course famed Kashmiri Wazwan & also food from other places in India, Old World Service & a unique & curious decor.
Address & other details: Chor Bizarre
Meal for 2: Rs. 700 onwards
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
The Restaurant is situated in the Ground floor of Hotel Broadway in Old Delhi. Its name ‘Chor Bizarre’ refers to “Chor Bazar’ which means ‘Thieves market’. Everything in the restaurant has a reason to be ther. All table – chair combos look different & the cutlery is different as well. The wall – furniture & other knick knacks r one of their kind. The menu card says ‘ If u like a particular piece of cutlery / item, just ask ur waiter – He might offer a price & u can go back home with just not a dinner but a piece of memory’.
An unforgettable sight in the Restaurant is a vintage car turned into a ‘chhat corner’ – Streedfood buffet atop a vintage car.
As I mentioned, this is a must-visit for everone visiting Delhi, specially for all non Indians & NRIs. A concept restaurant that stands out from the rest & whose uniqueness & attention to detail makes the experience unforgettable. I wud say that the person who conceptualized this is a genius & a huge applause also goes to the guys who executed this.
They also organize food walks, heritage walks etc. YUMMRAJ recommends all non Indian / NRI Guests to visit this place for food & the experience. Infact, during the whole evening, we were the only Indian diners!!!!
The detailed menu card of this place pleasantly surprised me. It listed food from all parts of India & mentioned the same as well. However the highlight of this place is Kashmiri food – This is a cuisine that not too many Restaurants serve & it is a cuisine that not too many restaurants have the caliber to make. In fact, the traditional Wazwan chefs called ‘Wazas’ rarely share their secret recipes with Restaurants.
Wazwan is a multi-course meat heavy meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmir. Guests are seated traditionally on the floor, in groups of four and share the meal out of a large metal plate called the tarami.
Chor Bizarre menu card has a subset of the full 30+ course dishes. They however organize a full course Wazwan for minimum of 20 Guests – all u have to do is to call them in advance &they will arrange for the same. They organize this in the traditional manner in which one has to sit on carpets on floor & share the food.
The service is Old World – The waiting staff is not necessarily a ‘Hotel Management’ Graduate but has that old world manners, knowledge, warmth, authority & relationship. That’s quite a rare experience nowadays.
We ordered for a Kashmiri platter ‘Tarami’ – turned out to be the best Kashmiri platter in Delhi NCR – haaq (saag), Gushtaba (hand pounded meat balls), Roganjosh, Rajma, Tabak Maaz (Kashmiri style fried lamb ribs), crispy fried lotus stem, Kashmiri kukkad (chicken) on a bed of long grained perfectly cooked rice. We also tried palak rishta & an excellent nadru (Kamal Kakri / lotus stem) yakhni. A mooli akhrot dip (radish + walnut) served with the food was superb. Finished the meal with very good phirni (dessert) & Kahwa (Kashmiri tea). Even the mouth-freshner was presented in a very interesting way.
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
The platter was served in a traditional, intricately designed, Kashmiri copper vessel called ‘Tarami’ with a lid.
On serving, the lid is removed & taken back – quite a lot in the European style.
We started with the spinach dish called haaq. I always wondered how almost boiled & unspiced spinach cud taste so good. I have always liked having haaq at a Kashmiri food stall called ‘Wazwan’ in Dilli Haat. But the haaq at Chor Bizarre was a revelation – It was outstanding & just too good.
Tabak Maaz is also one of my favourites – it’s a cut of lamb rib that is deep fried post marination in spices. The uniqueness of Tabak maaz is the crispy outer layer of the meat & the super soft layesr of meat & fat within. The Tabak maaz here was exactly that – Infact the meat between the rib bones was also unbelievably soft & wow. The only issue with the Tabak Maaz was it was sub-optimally salted (I guess due to most guests being non-Indian). I wud expect that Chor Bizarre takes care of this issue & adjusts salt according to Indian taste for Indian Guests. A sprinkle of salt on the Tabak Maaz made it outstanding.
The Gushtaba was the best I have had in my whole life. Soft, juicy within (u actually see drops of juice as u cut it to a half) , mild & immensely tasty & flavorful. The meatball was witish towards the outer & still pinkish within. Wow.
The Rajma was robust in taste & flavor & quite different than the Punjabi version. Super liked it.
The Kashmiri Kukkad was again an excellent gravy but the chicken pieces were disgustingly fibrous & hard. I am at a loss to understand how this cud happen in a restaurant that pays so much attention to detail – in food, décor & almost everything. The Kasmiri Kukkad at Kashmir Bhawan was better overall than at Chor Bizarre.
The spicy & crispy fried lotus stem was good to taste as well.
The Roganjosh again was different than most other meat dishes I have eaten so far with the same name. I assume this one is more authentic than the rest. The gravy had the flavor of saunf (fennel), was robust, spicy, non-smooth, not overtly hot like in most other places & awesome. The meat piece was ‘medium done’ – well done / soft like the Mughal dishes (like in korma etc) wud have been better to enjoy though.
The rice needs a special mention – long independent grains of soft & perfectly cooked flavorful rice.
The nadru yakhni gravy was too good again. The lotus stems were like lotus stems. So a mutton yakhni wud have maybe tasted better but the point is that the gravy was the King. It rocked.
The palak Rishta was meatballs cooked in a palak Gravy. Soft, flavorful & tasty tiny meatballs in a reddish gravy with spinach – flavors of spinach intact. Outstanding once again.
The phirni was not robust – it was quite sophisticated than most other places. The texture was less grainy, taste was not over sweetened but just perfect & the flavor of green cardamom was as good as it cud get. Taste was excellent & I enjoyed spooning it out from the burnt clay pot in which it was set.
The meal ended with Kashmiri tea ‘kahwa’ that is served with super-thin slices of almond. Since the sugar was served separately, I . for the first time appreciated kahwa the most.
The metal jug from which he was serving the Kahwa was worth a look.
We tried a Indian Cocktail & an Indian mocktail – very creative.
The cocktail was called ‘Imli & mirch’ garnished with roasted jeera & vodka, it was unique & very interesting.
The mocktail was the same stuff as above made on a bloody mary base. Perfect. Loved it.
The surprises did not end here. The Saunf (mouth-freshner) came in a tiny metal vintage car whose roff opens up like a lid!!!
Overall, look forward to revisiting & having more such memorable evenings. Also look forward to garnering 20 guests & trying the full Wazwan some day.