More than a Haiku for thyself

 

We walk along, me and my conversations

Hop into the resplendent narrow lane

Full of frills and curtains we see

And as we arrive, oh what we see

A long-standing mirror reflecting me

Why’d the mirror be put in an awkward place, we think

Until it slowly dons on us

Meet your friend in disguise!

 

 

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Top 5 North Indian restaurants you need to try in Chennai

 

I can completely relate when it’s all about trying out new places to satiate your hunger and finding the food a complete letdown and not worth the buck. I’ve had my share of rubbery panner and butter naan’s that reminded me of elastic chewy feeling in the mouth. But this post isn’t about that it’s about finding the best lip-smacking north Indian food in Chennai.

Want to have the subliminal feeling of a food coma or death by stuffed Paneer tikka or an Aalu Kulcha topped with a dollop of butter or wanted cheese mar ke Pav Bhaji?  Here are my top picks on finding the best north Indian cuisine in Chennai.

Also, all these are Tried and Tested

  1. Shyams Bombay Halwa house

Now, this is not any other Bombay halwa house restaurant in the city, even though you’ll come across at least a few by the Bombay Halwa house name don’t go by that. This specific restaurant is in T.nagar with all the other eatery’s. It’s in a quiet lane, so it’s hard to notice and fully packed most weekends but the waiting time is worth it. Go there for the melt in the mouth soft paneer, their butter rotis and experiment with their starters and curries menu.

What to order: Paneer Cigars, Stuffed paneer tikka, Fried masala khichiya. Paneer labadar, Dal makhni, Dal fry from the curries section they have an in-house Punjabi paneer the spicier version for those who’d like to take the heat up a notch.

Afternoon thalis:  if you’re around Tnagar, make sure you reach early as it gets really packed in the noons too since the restaurant is a pure veg they also cater to Jain food specifics.

Address: No. 6, Govindhu Street, T Nagar, Behind Panagal Park, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017

 2. Novelty Food House

If you’re sincerely craving food slapped with a dollop of butter then this is the place for you. Famous for it’s Pav Bhajis which can give you a heart stroke this place is well known for its chats. You can blindly order anything out of it’s extended curry section and it will not let you down. A dollop of butter may cost you a little higher but the food is truly worth the try.

What to order: Cheese/ Spl Pav bhaji, Tawa pulav, Mint dosa, Paneer tikka masala with butter roti. Try the falooda as well

Address: Old No.175, New No.355, Mint Street, Park Town, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600003

3.  Hatke Swad

If you’re typically from Delhi and are missing the food from the parathe waali galli or generally missing the food from the North of the Vindhiyas? Go to Hatke Swaad which is right opposite to Ethiraj College. The place is known for its tasty chats and you will truly devour some khulchas in proper Punjabi style. They also have Paratha meals which are truly filling under 200 rupees, that quite a steal for all the gluttony. The chats are amazing with the right moderation of chutneys and will definitely want you asking for more.

What to order: Delhi ki Aalu Tikki, Sev puri, Aalu Khulcha, Paneer Khulcha, Pani puri, Rajma chawal, moong dal halwa

Thali: There are many thalis to opt from but apart from that you could also ask for the thali which is inclusive of Paneer butter masala with a different gravy, rice and naan. They also have proper rice and dish combo like Rajma chawal, Kadhi chawal that you can opt for.

Address: 25, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600008

4. Ravi Mehra’s Delhi Hotel

In the busy lanes of Waltax road where parcels are regularly packed and shipped, there are lines of small joints that give you a quick filling of your dosa or typically spicy Andhra meals but walk further away and you’ll find the best for your buck at the Delhi hotel. It’s a popular hotel which is on the main road and cant go amiss their menu is extensive and the food is total yum.

What to order: Paneer Tikka, Spring rolls, Corn cheese balls, Dragon Paneer, Schezwan noodles, Paneer butter masala gravy with butter roti. Their afternoon thalis are known for their special crowd.

Address: 111, Wall Tax Rd, Badri Garden, Park Town, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600003

5. Babal da Punjabi Dhabha on P.H road

The only non-veg restaurant standing on this list is the Punjabi Dhabha, get transported into the retro era with old songs. The place looks small but there is delicious lip-smacking cuisine to taste.

What to order: Paneer Tikka, Gobi Manchurian, Dal fry, Aalu paratha, gobi paratha, Paneer/vegetable jalfrezi.

Non-Veg order: Tandoori Chicken, Rehmi kabab, Malai Kabab, Cheese Reshmi Kabab, Haryali kabab, Chicken tikka, Wheat kulcha. Order the schezwan rice or noodles, you won’t be disappointed.

Definitely try the lassi or the Rabdi with the Kulfi or the moong dal halwa.

Address: 114/9, Poonamallee High Road, Opp. Abu Portico, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600184

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the By-lanes of Nizamuddin

“The Tughluks have gone; Tughlukabad is a ruin; only Nizamuddin remains.”
― William DalrympleCity of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

William Dalrymple in his book The City of Djinns rightly said that Delhi has been build upon layers and layers with the iconic buildings of the past still standing in ruins and co-existing with the new. The past, perhaps a reminder of the battles, opulent architecture and a city which was always wanting to be conquered but couldn’t be.

As you walk by, the streets you may just walk into a lane filled with the history of the bygone era and if you’re lucky you may hear a few stories. Alas! that’s what happens to monuments in ruin, they merely become stories, in the end, but not the iconic building, still standing the test of time near Nizammudin Basti.

People come thronging to the Nizammudin Basti to offer prayers to the shrine of Sufi Saint  Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and closer to the relic you will also find the tomb of the great poet Amir Khusrau. Legend has it that Khusrau, the disciple wanted to be buried next to his beloved master. Worshipers make their offering and prayers first at the tomb of the poet and then at the shrine of the Sufi saint. On Friday evenings one can truly witness the mysticism in the air from the storytellers themselves, talking about brotherhood, love and true worship in the form of qawwalis.

An article by the Citizen. in quoted 

“It is said that Hazrat Nizamuddin abhorred any association with the rulers. As the story goes, Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq was constructing his capital of Tughlaqabad, at the same time when a baoli (step well) was being constructed at the Nizamuddin Basti. The workers of Tughlaqabad used to work at the Baoli during night hours. Miffed at having to share labourers with the Baoli construction, the Sultan ordered to stop the supply of oil to the Basti, which was needed to light lamps to do night time construction work. Nizamuddin Auliya then made the lamps burn using water. And the work on the Baoli went on uninterrupted. Following this episode Nizamuddin Auliya also became popular by the name Chiragh-e-Dilli.”

The basti is a charm on its own with shops selling flavors of the local cuisine, attar, perfumes, embroidery and much much,  but if you walk further away you will witness history in its true form, an archaeology site declared as a heritage monument by UNESCO, yes, we’re talking about the marvelous Humayun tomb.

Humayun’s Tomb was built in the 1560’s, with the patronage of Humayun’s son, the great Emperor Akbar. Persian and Indian craftsmen worked together to build the garden-tomb, far grander than any tomb built before in the Islamic world. Humayun’s garden-tomb is an example of the charbagh (a four quadrant garden with the four rivers of Quranic paradise represented), with pools joined by channels. The garden is entered from lofty gateways on the south and from the west with pavilions located in the center of the eastern and northern walls.

The tour of the Humayun’s tomb and the garden is breathtaking with acres of green open space, a plenty fountains and the spectacular designs which truly pave way for the artisans of that period and a score of artisans who’ve made it what it is today. A true play with a fusion of designs and the architecture of that era.

In a city which has been in the news for it’s worse air-breathing quality hardly qualifies for a green space in the city. Adjacent to the Humayun’s tomb, you will find Sunder Nursery, a sprawling 90-acre park dotted with historical monuments, 280 tree species, 36 butterfly species, two amphitheaters, a bonsai enclosure, a peafowl zone and plenty more. Literally, a fresh burst of air in the most polluted city which was made possible by the Public-private partnership with the help of the government and Aga Khan Development Network.

The Humayun tomb, the Sunder Nursery and the Nizamuddin Basti  have only recently been restored by the public-private partnership of the govt of India with the Aga Khan Development Network and with the initiative under care for culture by which, not only has the glory reclaimed to this monument but the people who live in the basti, their lives have changed too.

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure,” said Rumi.  The monument that was once a ruin is now a space that beckons stories of hope, pride, and empowerment for the people that build not just the monument the basti in itself.

Under the Basti Urban Renewal Initiative initiated by AKTC as part of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme whose main ideology is to revitalize urban heritage centers across the world in ways to not only protect the sites and monuments but to also spur social, economic and cultural development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A toast to the rains

You wake up in the wee hours of the morning, the floor is flooded with water and you simply can’t make sense of how a little rain can flood the room when the windows are closed, the curtains are down and there is no chance of water getting in.

 

Then you pick up a mop and hope that everything just dries out quickly. This reminded of a  similar situation that happened in a different city. The floor was flooded and the cot that I and a roommate nested on was completely drenched and no, it wasn’t because of the rains.

 

Imagine the scene when you come home from a long Newsday only to realize you’ve got a drenched cot to sleep on. I tried sleeping on the cold floor, it was dry then when I had arrived, but I had a terrible cold and a runny nose and with that, I decided to bunk elsewhere. I didn’t even want to take a look at the soaked suitcase, that I was living out of.

 

I can’t put to words how the rains made me feel remorse when you had a call time of 3.45 AM in the morning while you were waiting in the rain for the cab to drop you to work, or the fact that one had to stomp your foot really hard when you made your way to the car because of rat infestation as the big creatures scurried about.

 

I’ve had my share of good times too, either when I was buying books in a tiny little nook on the road which was my safe haven when life felt overwhelming. Eating on the road and biting into a hot ghee roast with a spicy chutney or the times where I could watch the heavy clouds from the sea deck with friends on a lazy Sunday amidst the drizzle.

 

It’s almost as if years later, this situation was purposely put to remind me of my past. So I looked at the pool of water, signifying what happened 5 years ago in a dingy room that we called home and quickly mopped the area without much of a thought.

Did you get that Chilly Burn High ?

On any regular day, you will find crowds thronging to shops that dole out sandwiches every few minutes, but the secret ingredient that people come looking for is the burn in the mouth chilly coriander chutney spread generously on their sandwiches. You cannot surpass a piece of the sandwich without tears (I really mean it, I’ve tried one myself) but, beyond all that every time I’ve indulged in something spicy, I’ve felt immediate relief right after it, this had me thinking I should write one about my love for chilies.

The Guardian newspaper states that Millions of people actively seek out the pain of hot chilies as a form of pleasure. The burn features prominently in more than a few of the world’s great cuisines, with more than a quarter of the world’s population eating hot peppers daily.

The extended research about chilies shows that eating a chilly for many is like the thrill of either watching a horror movie. The sense of damage is a false alarm: a way to get the thrill of living on the edge without the risk of exposing yourself to real danger.

But before all that lets dig in to some details

  • The heat-causing chemical capsaicin in chillis is produced by plants to deter pests.
  • Capasin or capsaicinoids found in chilies are the receptors known for its heat and burning sensation, despite its burning sensation it does not cause any physical or tissue damage. (This point is debatable depending on how much heat you’re ingesting)
  • Capasin finds its use in low concentrates for pepper sprays and other deterrents
  • The compound that makes chili peppers feel hot in your mouth, is one of the main ingredients in pain-relieving creams. Yes, the balms that you use may contain capasin
  • Chilies are known for revving up your metabolism, relieving your stress and making you feel good

Why would anyone seek the burning sensation?

The burn signals the brain to release endorphins releasing the chemical dopamine which makes one instantly feel better or good. That reminds me of the one chilly variety known to tear anyone up instantaneously.

Bhut Jholika

In the variety of chilies, Bhut Jholika is really hot with over 1,041,427 SHUs on Scoville scale with most of the pepper being exported from Assam. Now the fact that you didn’t probably know was that this chilly was also used by the army to make tear gas to suppress rioters.

Apart from that, in the northeast, many people eat chillies to help to keep their body cool during summers, but hold on there is a chilly that has surpassed as the hottest chilly and that is Carolina Reaper

Carolina Reaper

Yep, if there is something that will probably put you on fire is Carolina Reaper surpassing as hottest chillies since 2017, and averages 1.6 million scoville heat units (SHU).

If you don’t believe me, here’s a story reported by the Independent

A man developed “excruciating” thunderclap headaches and had to get emergency medical attention after eating the world’s hottest chilli, the Carolina Reaper, as part of a hot pepper contest.

This is the first time a chilli has been described as causing this brain blood vessel constriction, though it can occur in response to certain medications, including some antidepressants, as well as illicit drugs like cocaine and ecstasy.

Eating intense cayenne pepper has previously been identified as a cause of “vasospasm”, where the blood vessels constrict in other parts of the body, and has caused heart attacks.

Who knew that chilly could actually cause heart attacks ? I think these hot peppers may find their way in the army or medical research to treat patients perhaps.

All that for the future, but for now I’m just going to hang eating my chilly cheese toast smeared with the coriander chutney, after all, a good cry can make anyone feel better.

Embrace the Fugly

April was one rollercoaster of a month,  so I decided it to just let it flow instead of policing myself. I am learning to embrace my ugly side and let the emotions surf through the tide of what I call funny+ugly: Fugly

  • On overeating mindlessly at everything that was crunchy, without realizing the texture, flavor or taste. At times I wanted to censor the eating bit but I couldn’t, all I ever needed was spicy food (Inserts teary-eyed face) (Yes, all that lump not gonna go away with a slim sauna belt, I know)

 

  • There were times I took the plunge, not because I wanted to, it sure didn’t feel within but it just happened and I learned to be okay with that. (Average is better than no sportsmanship) (Heck, no! I’m not saying be average, be the best you can but at times at least pat yourself for a handling a terrible day with an average attitude)

 

  • I learnt that people have priorities, and mostly it doesn’t have to do anything to do with you.

 

  • I learned that in every movement in every aspect, one needs to learn to breathe slowly.

 

  • Getting uncomfortable and awkward is the norm, the earlier the better.

 

  • One perspective doesn’t fit all that is, what is chaos to the butterfly isn’t to the bee logic.

 

  • Just be present at the moment and just do, that all that is required.

 

Just like any roller coaster, life is going to tumble you upside down and drop you from the highest level but since I’ve anyway signed up for it why the heck not just live it through and learn to embrace the not so happy, messy side equally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Poetry Writing Challenge

When I was endlessly scrolling through article after another looking for motivation to literally help me get out of my routine, I finally stumbled at one. So I read about this challenge, where a person writes short poems for a year.

A year is too far-fetched, I thought, so I decided on writing for a month on Notegraphy. Sometimes the words just poured, and at times I had to re-think restructure and sometimes even be okay with whatever I wrote, that looked rather average.

But at the end, I feel delightful not because of churning out one poem after another but for a fact that I could actually complete this task taking it one day at a time.

Here’s what a month’s short poetry challenge looks like

https://notegraphy.com/amreenmakhani

Writing

You can read more here: https://notegraphy.com/amreenmakhani