I dragged her out of her house and bullied her into coming with me for lunch. She relented, but wouldn’t budge, unless she was fed butter chicken. Tired and hungry, we marched inside Copper Chimney, avoiding the late afternoon sun as much as we could.
There are several things you would notice when you enter Copper Chimney. The first, which I adored quite a bit, was the huge glass wall, allowing plenty of sunlight, but the air conditioned interiors keeping the 38-degree temperature at bay. Then, the stairs which led up one floor. Although I haven’t been up there, they seemed to be a place for amateur photographers to flock about and take pictures of giggling girls. As we seated ourselves, a group of them posed and giggled and shrilled, and were generally obnoxious, despite the servers politely telling them to tone it down. They weren’t polite.
Thankfully, they left before I got annoyed. I mean, really really annoyed.
Our server was a nice man. Even though he had to be told a few times about the ice in our soft drinks. What we liked was the fact that he was always hovering somewhere nearby, ready to replenish our plates with more food as soon as we had finished one batch.
And what were we after?
Rather, it was she who did the ordering.
She wanted Murg Makhani and Daal Maharaja. And Pineapple Raita. In that order.
I wanted Naan and Aloo Kulcha.
Naturally, I have never said no to potatoes, have I?
After a ten-minute wait, which actually seemed like forever, our food was in front of us. The server had already placed a small plate of onion slices, chillies and lime wedges, and a bowl of mint chutney in front of us. He came back with small bowls which he proceeded to fill up with the Daal Maharaja (215/-) and the raita. The Murg Makhani (350/-) was served, chunks of chicken floating in what seemed to us an inelegantly vast quantity of gravy.
But oh God, the chicken pieces were soft, tender, and the gravy was smooth, creamy, fairly redolent of coriander, cumin, tomatoes and butter. The description in the menu suggested that this was the immensely popular butter chicken, with boneless pieces of chicken tandoori cooked in a gravy “accentuated with dry fenugreek”. I must say, the description pretty much sealed the deal for us, and my friend claimed that she thought the gravy was “authentic”, just like what she has had back in Delhi.
I admit to eating very good butter chicken, but this was pretty close to the best I have been served, and the question of “authentic” is something I would be questioning if someone tells me about how close to “authentic” this is. A while back, I decided to read up on the quintessential “butter chicken” and realized that it was a cross between a number of dishes, and had questionable background, and the only two ingredients which you can consider “authentic” in it are as the name suggests – butter and chicken.
We had asked for Naans with our meal – and the two versions came in together. The plain naan (50/-), sprinkled with nigella seeds, and the butter naan (60/-), sprinkled with sesame seeds, were both good, although I preferred the plain one, simply because it was perfectly charred but not hard – great for dipping into the butter chicken gravy or scooping some of the daal we had ordered. The buttered version was… dare I say it? Too buttery for my taste.
Sigh! I am growing old!
Let me not deviate from my meal here. After the divine chicken, we thought, for a few foolish seconds that we should not have ordered the daal. After all, it was supposed to not contain onion and garlic – how would it match up to the rest? Our fears were flung far away when the server gave us a lovely measure of it in small bowls, dishing it out carefully to avoid spillage. It melted in my mouth, the creaminess hinted at the long hours it had spent on a stove top. I am ashamed to say that I would never make a daal like this ever in my life because I would cringe at the amount of fuel it will consume. But, I would willingly eat this every day, if its made this way.
I would also return over and over again for the aloo kulcha. First off, what made this so gorgeous was the stuffing-to-dough ratio – not a single bite went without a bit of stuffing in my mouth, and the beauty was in the execution – crisp outside, piping hot, with the soft potato stuffing oozing out with each mouthful.
The Pineapple Raita (95/-) is what she had settled on with an evil grin on her face, which was rewarded with an answering smirk. The chunks of canned pineapple make the creamy yogurt almost too sweet for those who are raita nazi, but we make use of it by dipping our kulcha in it, and then, inhaling it, one spoonful at a time. The raita makes her want more, so she decides to order dessert.
The server prowls around us. What would it be, my dear children, what would it be? Would it be the Gaajar Ka Halwa from our special menu? Or would you like the classic Malai Kulfi with Falooda?
My girl tells me that she wants the Kulfi (135/-) with the worms on top. Loads of it, and loads of syrup. The server nods his head sagely, and returns quickly with a triangular bowl of worms. Using a spoon, I separate strands of said “worms”, aka falooda, to discover the golden saffron kulfi underneath, and scoop a bit of it out, adding a hint of the rose syrup. It is soft, creamy, and not too sweet – with crushed pistachios that can be felt with each bite, but the pieces aren’t big enough to intrude, if you know what I mean.
Soon, our last spoonful is consumed, we relax and wait patiently for the bill to arrive. It is quite reasonable for the two of us (around 1400/- if I wasn’t mistaken), and we sit back for a few minutes, letting the meal unfurl yet again in our minds as our bodies are filled with a sudden lassitude that often comes after eating a meal which makes you feel happy inside.
Block C, 3rd Floor
City Center I