Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Not To Eat at Dara’s; A Surprising Revelation

Name : Dara’s Dhaba
Location: Ghodbunder Road, 2km from Dahisar Checkpost
Contact: 022- 28456119/ 32970818
Time of Visit: 6th September, 2011 [Dinner]

A dimly lit dhaba in the suburbs of the city with knitted cots, bolsters and the slight hustle bustle of the vehicles passing by, Dara’s ambience is a breath of fresh air from the claustrophobia of the city. The family seated on the next table won’t be able to hear your private conversation. So, drive to the suburbs, unwind on a weekend over a couple of beers and try out the variety of Panjabi delicacies Dara’s has to offer.

Mine and I were seated comfortably under the cloudy September sky, sipping beer. Could it be anything other than Tandoori Chicken, to make that evening perfect? That orange-red fleshy, robust tangdi of tandoori chicken, wherever you see it, hear about it, smell it, it seduces you till you give in. So, I was ready to surrender myself to the song of that evening, fulfilling with the open space, the pleasant monsoon breeze, the peace and someone to share it with. Although I am usually pretty stingy when it comes to sharing beers and chicken tangdis, who wouldn’t be?

Anyway, after a wait the tandoori chicken was served at our table. I obviously grabbed on to the tangdi and dug my teeth into it like a hungry animal, I couldn’t wait any longer. If you believe that no one can go wrong with tandoori chicken, break that bubble because you are highly mistaken. Dara’s can and they did, unexpectedly so. Dara’s Dhaba, a dhaba, go wrong with tandoori chicken? I know, it sounds really absurd and hard to believe. But believe me I couldn’t believe my tongue either. I have been to this place before. I have tried out their awesome dal makhani and butter chicken, craving to visit again for weeks. But this tandoori chicken was clearly a let down.

Dara’s tandoori chicken had a strong smell and lingering after taste of mustard oil that evening. Unlike many others my taste buds are not mustard oil intolerant, I love it, and I use it in many of my recipes. Nearly all recipes of Punjabi tandoori chicken include mustard oil. I use mustard oil in my version of tandoori chicken as well, but the trick is that the oil is heated to smoking point before adding it to the chicken. The problem with this tandoori chicken was that the oil was probably not heated properly before addition. I could distinctly get the scent of mustard oil in my chicken. The after taste made the flavour of the tandoori chicken unpleasant and I did not care for the rest. The chicken was cooked well and the inside flesh was flavourful but the uncooked mustard oil smell made the dish disappointing.

Dara’s did manage to make up for a lovely evening, in spite of a disappointing start. The service was prompt and flawless. Their staff members were courteous and polite. For main course we tried their paneer khurchan with rumali rotis and some cheese naan. The khurchan, was a yummy orangish, dhaba-style thick paneer gravy. The rumali rotis were, funnily enough, crispy, but I liked it. Who cares about the fine technicalities of a rumal, when you are chilling at a suburban dhaba? As for the cheese naan, need I even mention? It was coated in butter, finger-licking awesome.

The rabdi, well, what can I say, it made my day, evening and the coming week. I was reluctant about eating it at first. I was too full. When I saw that little clay bowl with the rabdi flavoured with saffron and garnished with mixed nuts, my heart melted and my mouth salivated. There were mixed feelings, temptation, greed, ah, forget about it, I’m going in. You know how it is with rabdi, you can’t really stop eating it once you have already begun. Gluttony is my sin. So, Dara’s Dhaba,

Good Food + Very Good Service+ Very good Ambience+ Very Good Value for money = Very Good
Rating= 8 on Ten

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