Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Annapurna Bhoj

A man has to eat to keep body and soul together. Which is why, while meandering around Old Delhi the other day, I was on the look-out for a place where I could rest my weary legs and treat my grumbling tummy.

I was in Fatehpuri in search of a Sindhi restaurant. But there was no sign of anything Sindhi there – barring the Karachi halwa that can be found at any halwai’s shop. So I was thinking dark thoughts about the friend who had sent me there while I looked for an eatery.

That was when I suddenly remembered Annapurna Bhoj. I had had eaten a thali there some years ago and enjoyed every morsel of it. So I hot-footed it to Church Mission Road, off Fatehpuri.

Many years ago, there was a famous little eatery called Soni Bhojanalaya. The Soni family was known for the tasty vegetarian food that it served in its little eatery. But as the restaurant grew, so did the family. Finally, one branch of the family moved out and started its own little place. They called it Annapurna Bhoj. These days, it’s run by two brothers – Rajeev and Sanjeev Soni. One brother takes care of the Delhi eatery, the other of its Haridwar branch.

Since I had fond memories of their thali, I decided that I’d go for an encore. I asked them to pack three thalis for me, even though my stomach was by then growling like a wounded bear. You can ask for both rice and roti, but I opted for the chapattis because rice would have meant carrying a heavier load. Then, with this heavenly-smelling bag, I took the metro back to New Delhi.

My friends were all waiting there with what I presume was bated breath. The thalis were unpacked – to reveal several soft rotis, moong dal, a dry vegetable dish of carrots and peas, potatoes in a light gravy, saag-paneer and kheer.

The food was truly delectable. Cooked with just a few spices, it was like well-prepared home-made food. The moong dal was very light and had been tempered with a dollop of some heavenly ghee and cumin seeds. The vegetable dishes were delicious. And the kheer at the end of the meal was like ambrosia – cooked with just the right amount of sugar.

A thali costs Rs 40, or Rs 45 if you want a ghee ka tadka in your daal. You can have as many rotis as you want with your thali, but an extra bowl of vegetables or kheer comes for an extra Rs 5.

This was such a great meal that I quite forgot about my friend who had sent me off on a wild goose chase. In fact, by the end of the meal, I was feeling pretty benevolent towards him. After all, if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have renewed my friendship with the Soni family’s incredible thalis.


Hill Goat said...

I am so very happy that you have revived the blog. And suddenly, also happilly, I see there is a string of posts to go through. I will savour them a few each day, lest I am too stuffed to enjoy them. I have finished till barfi-lassi today (which I have had many a time after some poori-bhaji at the opposite stall) and will start with Moti Meatwallah tomorrow. Great going, chief. Keep it up.

Btw, Ramzaan is on. And I shall be visiting Jama area twice every week (with new set of friends or alone). Any suggestions for Haleem in the area, boss?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rahul verma said...

Hill Goat (i like the name, by the way), try Bundu Halimwalah in Gali Kababian. That's the galli that leads to Karim's. There's another good place for halim -- and that's behind Meena Bazar on the steps of Jama Masjid. If you can, try out a a restaurant called Purani Dilli in Zakir Nagar (next to the Jama Masjid there). I remember the halim there was rather good.

Happy to know you are enjoying the posts. do le me know if you come across a good eatery somewhere.

8:36 PM

eggwall said...

Hi Rahul,

I grew up in old Delhi, and new a lot of these places, reading your blog reminded me of Multani Dhanda, Farashkhana etc which I knew. Nostalgia at its best.

The Moth Kachori I ate first time was at Kutub Road corner of Sadar Bazar 'Sarai' in 1958 or so. I thought it was extinct by now.
So....it is not. Thank you.

One cool place to eat Bedmis is at Gopal Corner, Kamla nagar. Place is on the right, when you go from Shakti Nagar chowk towards University, say 200 yards from Shakti nagar Chowk.

It is a great service you are doing, getting up soooo early in the day. Lovely, keep it up!

rahul verma said...

Dear Narendra,

I enjoyed reading your comment. I found it nostalgic too, that you were were growing up somewhere there. There is a moth corner in Farashkhana too. This is near the Fatehpuri entrance to Farashkhana.

I have eaten and written about Gopal's bedmis. But after you reminded me about it I put the piece up on this blog. Do keep reading and sending your comments.


thandoo said...

'Soni Bhojnalaya'-brings back so many memories from the days when my summer vacation meant a trip to Haridwar and Rishikesh. I know-but every cloud...Even though it has been more than 20 years I can still remember the garam phulka's and the best cucumber raita that was ever made. And to think, I stumbled upon your blog while looking for good biryani spots in Delhi. Thank you and may your arteries never clog;)

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Unknown said...

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