Generally when someone calls me at around 5.30 in the morning and ask me if I am sleeping, I reply with a very polite, “No, I was bowling to Sachin Tendulkar.” However, rules are made because there are exceptions. So when S called this morning and told me that she wanted Beef Nihari from Sufia, who was I to disagree?
|Beef Bone in my path. The road to hell, etc…|
For those who do not know, Nihari is equal to soft chunks of meat in a soup-like gravy, served generally early in the mornings during the winter season here in Kolkata. Generally, it is made with beef or mutton.
So S and IDG picked me up from the house, and proceeded towards Zakaria Street, close to Nakhoda Masjid, where Sufia is located. I had first heard of this place from IDG a long time back (and drooled over the pictures that were taken), and I had begged them to take me with them the next time they were around. Thankfully, they remembered me.
We walked down Chitpur, passed the famous Royal Hotel (I will review this place too, I promise), and moved to Zakaria Street where Sufia is located.
If you are squeamish about eating or loving beef, stop reading here. This post is an ode to beef lovers around Kolkata. The place itself is nothing fancy, and mostly locals eat here. People were frying dalpuris (deep fried flatbread) outside, and we stared at it appreciatively. We stood there for a couple of minutes as all the tables were full, and then one man, looking at my sad and hungry face, took pity and asked me what I was looking for.
The word Nihari brought a smile to his face, and he hurriedly displaced an eater from his table (I could not help but feel sorry for the guy who had barely started his meal before he was unceremoniously ousted from his seat and placed somewhere else. Had it been me, I would have protested, but seeing three people, out of which two were women, probably put him in a tizz) and made a place for us. We sat down, and immediately ordered a plate of aforementioned puris, tandoori rotis and three plates of Nihari.
As soon as we were seated, out came my camera and IDG’s SLR, and we started snapping. There was a fourth occupant in our table (who was not in our group, but an innocuous Nihari Eater, by the way) who looked at the two creatures pointing cameras at food, and then, again concentrated on his food after a few minutes.
Within minutes, the rotis had arrived, and we were waiting impatiently and snapping pictures like the Paparazzi taking pictures of minor celebs while waiting for Brad Pitt. Then came the star of the show.
This was worth the wait.
The softest meat came in, with a thin layer of fat floating over a succulent soup which you were supposed to mix together with some lemon juice and chopped chillies and coriander leaves. This was meat at its purest, a poetical balance of the salty, cut with the slight tang of lemon juice that you are supposed to squeeze in before consumption.
I was enthralled. But then I tasted the meat.
The meat was as soft as they came. It melted in my mouth. Parted as soon as my spoon touched it.
And it had the perfect balance of intramuscular fat which I prefer.
I love you. Nihari, be mine. Please.
IDG steadily ate through his puris, and later said they were packed with stuffing and mighty fine. However, I preferred the purity of tandoori rotis, and we finished with a cup of milky tea, with fresh buffalo milk lacing it.
Our bill, after all this, came to INR 248/- (just under $5) for three very hungry people (Update: On a recent visit, four plates of nihari, plus 8 pooris, plus 3 tandoori rotis cost 460/-).
Let’s just say, Sufia, I will be back.
Oh, and did I show you the picture of the chicken-filled rickshaw I saw when I was coming back?
2, Zakaria Street,
Kolkata – 700073