In a NUtshell
One of the top ten meals in my memory ever – non-vegetarian & vegetarian multi course lunch from village degh.
After eating at village degh, I felt this – the need to take my outstation guests for a food trip to Jama Masjid area (we have been doing that for years now) can be replaced by ordering food from village degh for lunch & later taking the guests to purani Dilli to get a feel of the place. Food at village degh was surely better than many in old delhi – due to sheer use of ‘best ingredients’ & ‘passion to give only the best’.
Address & other details: village degh
Meal for 2: ₹1200 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
Around 2014, food blogger chowder singh had organised a Foodwalk in purani Dilli Jama Masjid area. That’s where we had met Osama Jalali for the first time. He had partnered with chowder singh to guide the food walk group thru the lanes & bylanes of the old city. We got to know that osama was a journalist by profession, belonged to Rampur in UP & most interestingly, grown up in purani Dilli. Needless to say he was a moving Wikipedia of the area, it’s stories, the food, the vendors.
Months later, we saw a post by Osama that he was doing a Pop up at a 5 star hotel with his mother & wife (will refer her as lady Jalali going forward). When we went for dinner at the pop up & met Osama, he said that He, his mother & wife were actually Staying at the hotel, getting into the kitchen early morning everyday, preparing the food their way & that they did not leave much to the hotel staff. This was an interesting piece of information as we were stunned after eating the food. Almost everything in the long menu was fabulous.
Just by luck we have been to most of their pop ups therafter. While we were staying in mumbai, we had come to gurgaon for a weekend & we were pleasantly surprised to see the same hotel hosting Osama. We have been to their mumbai pop ups too.
The only thing common in all these pop ups were CONSISTENT BRILLIANCE of all dishes in a large menu. Unlike most other home chefs who do pop ups, Osama & family had mastered the art of delivering the best even from commercial hotel kitchens. This is contrary to our experience of many other excellent home chef’s food being quite less impressive at hotels than when they have cooked at home.
Every dish in a long menu card in their pop ups have been a hero. When we would eat at their pop ups & after food speak to Osama, we would notice –
1. Extreme attention to detail
2. Clinically obsessed with using the best ingredients
3. Not doing short cuts, minimal use of modern cooking tools & sticking to centuries old cooking process.
4. Even after eating a stomach full, one doesn’t feel heavy / bloated.
5. Osama would constantly be present at the dining hall taking feedback from the guests – big ears help in perfecting an art for sure.
Osama once told us that There are three kinds of food that he serves so far
• His Childhood memories – what he has grown up eating
• Travel – food that he has
• Research of traditional food
I remember the story of how he & lady Jalali Travelled in Pakistan in local buses, chatted with people, ate their food, understood their philosophy of cooking & later did a Pakistani food festival at le Meridien gurgaon late last year.
I also remember once Osama had explained why he not only sticks to Traditional processes but follows it to the tee –
Traditionally 3 people were involved in creating new dishes for the royalty (excludes dishes created by serendipity).
1. Hakim – he used to keep a watch on the medicinal property / effect of the good on health
2. Masalchi- he would make the spice mixes & coordinate with the hakim till approved
3. Bawarchi – he would finally get to create the food based on inputs by the other two.
So with all these stories in our mind, when we heard that Osama was opening a delivery kitchen, village degh (situated in a village on the outskirts of gurugram), we were excited to try the food. The food that is currently on the menu is from old delhi, Rampur & Pakistan.
The only question we had in mind was ‘will the food cooked by paid cooks be as good as the food cooked by osama’s mother & wife?’.
We ordered the food nevertheless. Absolutely Loved it.
Then We got to know some very interesting stories about village degh –
• It’s located in a real village near gurgaon
• Lady Jalali runs the kitchen with the help of cooks whom they have trained. No wonder the magic continues …. that answered our question.
• All Ingredients are locally sourced daily & they do not usually need refrigeration of raw materials.
• The Ghee (only cooking medium) that they use comes from a particular person in Mewat. They store the ghee in a Matka (earthen pot) below earth for a week for it to get an Earthy flavor.
• Their kitchen has no LPG connection – they cook everything in a smoke free mud tandoor (smoke goes out thru a chimney & kitchen is not full of smoke) that they have got constructed by traditional village artisans.
• For keeping other ingredients, they have constructed a Natural refrigerator – a small room built inside the ground to keep excess raw materials cool.
• Whole slaughtered goat meat is brought to the premises & all the pieces are made Inhouse. keema is also made Inhouse, manually. No wonder the meats are so good & the keema outstanding.
Ordering process –
We ordered thru their website & paid there directly. There is an option to call & place orders too. Pretty smooth. The delivery person called us once after he reached our house.
The food was delivered to us in kacchi mitti ka ghara – it was porous. Food stays good in such gharas but they become room temperature in 30 minutes. Since most of the options are Curries, reheating is easy – we did it directly by putting the ghara on the stove.
Detailed handling & heating instructions were also given along with the food.
The food –
Loved it as always. Out of the 10+ dishes, one was penultimate. Rest all were very good to outstanding.
We felt heavy at the end of our 3 hour lunch (one of the occasions when we ordered too many at a time) coz we ate almost a week’s lunch (quantity wise) at one go. However the food was not heavy. It surely did not remind itself later – good spices, properly cooked spices & good ghee being the cooking medium probably ensured this.
On other occasions when we ate this food in normal quantity, it was pure joy. Did not feel heavy at all after the food (which usually is the case with most commercially available mughalai food).
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
We had food from village degh several times. Below is a review of all of them –
Filmistan hari mirch keema was the hero on our day 1 lunch – absolutely amazed at the flavors of hari Mirch, masalas & the meat – quite difficult to balance these simultaneously. Machine done keema can never match up. This was surely the traditional hand chopped meat – can’t beat. Rate it 4.95/5
Rampuri chicken kofta was again very beautifully flavored curry. Thin (as compared to North Indian commercial food gravies) yet flavorful gravy that we just loved. The meatballs were also full of flavors. Rate it 4.5/5
We had Shahajahanabadi nalli nihari on two occasions. Both were very good. The thick silky gravy, the flavors, the meat falling off the bones, the bite of the meat – all were very good. However my memory of Kallu nihariwale beats this experience. Rate the nihari at village degh 4.25/5
Behram khan Daal gosht was another dish that we had on two days. Day 1 was surprising for us. We had never had a dish from Osama before that was just good or just above average. So we were surprised as the flavors of meat were absent in the daal. It was as if someone added meat pieces to daal later. The taste & texture were good. Rate the day 1 dish 2.5/5
Day 2 was a pleasant surprise – the daal had full bodied flavors of the meat, OT was perfectly cooked, had the right amount of bite, the meat was perfect & everything was as good as it could get. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of this dish averages out to 3.5/5
Lahori chargha murg was lajawab. Very few times have I been so impressed after eating poultry chicken – that too fried!!! Crisp outer layer, juicy chicken , chatpata taste – just a fab combination. Rate it 4.75/5
Mirzapuri shami kabab kathal (jackfruit) was superb. The Visual differentiator of this kebab with the mutton shami was the presence of cashew on the top. The kabab had a crunch on outer layer that was very enjoyable & the inside was super soft. The mammoth kababs were difficult to hold – they were falling off from corners as they were so soft. Absolutely loved it. Rate it 4.5/5
Mirzapuri shami kabab gosht was very ‘Reshe daar’ (texture of the meat was pronounced) – the only other place where we had such reshe-daar shami kabab was at arq. That was even more reshe-daar than the one at village degh.
The beauty of the dish was that it was hand Pounded, not minced. The kababs had a Beautiful interplay of flavors of meat & daal. They also had a Super enjoyable crunch on outer layer. This crunch bit was totally different from the Lucknowi version of shami kabab.
The Kabab was breaking off on its own weight due to softness within. The kababs were Enjoyably moist , unlike most others that r dry. Rate it 4.75/5
Baraati murg qorma was just fabulous. The curry was so good that the joy of rating this poultry chicken dish was as much or more than the joy of eating the best meat in the world. The gravy elevated the poultry chicken to unimaginable heights. Smooth gravy full bodied full mouthed flavors outstanding taste. Rate it 4.95/5
Faridkot mutton curry was very good. This Faridkot punjabi style of cooking was different than the mughalai style. Flavors of spices seemed to be more pronounced. The meat was cooked perfectly. Rate it 4.5/5
Pashto murg changezi is again a old delhi dish named after changez khan (not the historical one who invaded, but a wrestler from the locality). It had all the makings of post partition food – sharp taste, easy to like, cream on top & it tasted fab. It was difficult to control the hands as they were constantly sending more of it from the plate to the taste buds. Wah. Rate it 4.5/5
Lagan gosht biryani was purani dilli style biryani – I remember this variety in chitli qabar area, next to haji shabrati nihariwale shop. If you compare this with Lucknowi or kolkata versions, you will be very highly disappointed. The rice used here is different than the Awadhi or the kolkata type biryani – the delhi one is shorter, thicker & less soft. This one has more bite than its Lucknowi counterpart, which melts in the mouth.
The rice was fragrant. The meats were excellent – perfectly cooked & falling off the bones with the slightest nudge. Wah. Rate the biryani 4.25/5
Kadhao kheer was the best kheer I have had in my memory – rich, creamy, smooth, it had feel of the rice but the proportion of rice was way less. Crisp dry fruits on top made the texture interesting. Rate it 4.95/5
Begum ki khameeri roti was super soft after 30 minutes of being made & also few hours after it was made. Excellent. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of food at village degh averages out to 4.5/5 – a rare score for such a long menu.
Needless to say we will reorder