This is one of the nicest Februaries that I can remember – mainly because it's still cold. I love the cold wave, because it whets my appetite. A bleak day does something to your gastric juices (I am not sure if a study has been done on this, but the subject has enormous potential), and you want to eat something hot and delicious. This is the time for endless cups of steaming tea and plates and plates of crispy pakoras. This is also the season for kababs, right off the tawa or the skewers, smoking ever so slightly, and giving off a wonderful aroma of spices.
So what do you do when the day is cloudy, and the stomach is rumbling for something hot and spicy? You wound your muffler round your neck, wear a thick jacket, and head for Old Delhi. I did that last week, and meandered into Bulbuli Khana, a broad lane that opens into Bazaar
Sitaram on one side, and Matia Mahal on the other. I suppose once upon a time this was the place where little birds were sold. Now it is a wholesale market for beads and trinkets.
I went to a kabab stall in Bulbuli Khana run by two Kashmiri brothers called Mohammed Akbar and Mohammed Husain. From the Chowri metro stop, just go down Bazaar Sitaram. At the end, you reach some kind of a T-junction – if you turn right you will be going towards Turkman Gate.
But you go straight ahead into a lane – and that's Bulbuli Khan. You have to go down the winding lane till you find the brothers skewering kababs on your left, bang opposite Masjid Shan. You could, of course, ask anybody there where the Kashmiri kabab sellers sit, and you will
get all the directions that you need.
This is a small stall where the brothers grill the kababs. They just focus one item – and that's a succulent kabab made with buff meat. It's a little different from the other kababs you get
in Delhi. The minced meat is a little thick and coarse, and it has bits of ginger and green chillies in it. You can also get the aromatic flavour of whole spices that have been coarsely ground. The meat is soft, and is delicious when eaten hot. One seekh costs Rs 3. We – my foodie-friend, Raj and I – ate five kababs right there, and packed 30 kababs for a hungry lot of friends eagerly waiting to be fed back in New Delhi.
So we had a second session of some serious eating. The kababs wrapped in sal leaves were still hot by the time we reached New Delhi. The green chutney was awesome, too, and I noticed that one young 'un cited the chutney as an excuse to eat more kababs. "Wonderful chutney," he
kept saying, while dipping yet another juicy kabab into the sauce. I must say I liked his enthusiasm.
Buff kababs are great – not just because of the price, but because they taste really good. It's not surprising that the stall is extremely popular in Old Delhi. The brothers tell us that people who
are vegetarian at home line up for the kababs on all days. I can understand that. The kababs can cast a spell on you.