n our gastronomic memory, dhabas aren’t just eateries by the highway; they are bookmarks of unforgettable experiences. Their smoky flavors make us forget the priciest of meals in the best of fine-dining restaurants. There is nothing that can beat the satisfaction of spooning kaali dal (black lentils)into a crisp tandoori naan (Indian flat bread) — all enhanced with blobs on white butter — on a cold winter day.
Dhabas are an inseparable part of our road journeys. Fauji dhaba, Pehelwan dhaba, Sher-e-Punjab — the names line our highways and stay in our memories. The Shudh Vaishnav dhabas on pilgrim routes even take care of cultural sensibilities, offering food cooked without garlic and onion.
The origin of the dhaba is nebulous. It is said they sprouted on either side of The Grand Trunk Road and other highways during the 20th century, essentially to serve the truckers. The menu reflected the fact that most truckers came from Punjab.
Interestingly, many modern dhabas are not located on the highway…….Like the “Dhaba by Claridges”
DBC is an iconic restaurant from the “Claridges Hospitality” stable……..They serve Dhaba style food in the best of class yet in a rustic and Desi Avataar…….
Dhaba by Claridges has a branch in DLF Place Mall , Saket, which is quite a huge place compared to its other branch in cyber hub. If you are looking to take your guests, your family or your friends for ethnic Punjabi food to satisfy your palate then Dhaba by Claridges is the place to go.
The place is jam packed during lunch as well as dinner hours which explains that the food is excellent
and the people of Delhi keep craving for it again and again. No wonder that Claridges Hospitality thought of this brilliant idea of opening up their treasure to a bigger audience by expanding across Delhi NCR. After sampling cuisines of far away when we want to eat something that makes us feel at home then this is the kind of place we prefer. Dhaba by Claridges is a modern sophisticated place with interiors that are done in tune with the theme i.e. Dhaba which means rustic style eatery on the highways. But this place has been done in a rustic style with touch of modernity and class. The place has an open kitchen counter that resembles a highway dhaba. There is a truck body parked inside the premises along with innovative decor that resembles a Dhaba, like charpoys to sit and tyres hanging on the walls with Bollywood posters and paintings.
Of course, it is an ideal place for people to enjoy great Indian food, both spicy and delicious. The restaurant recently introduced its Healthy menu which promises good wholesome food in a healthy way.
We were honored to have Executive Chef Ravi Saxena join us for lunch; his passion for food could be seen in the way he spoke about his food. They use olive oil instead of ghee and reduced skimmed milk instead of cream for this special menu. The taste of the food stays amazingly the same retaining the flavors too.
First up on the New Menu were appetizers like Tandarust Tawa Fish crisped to perfection and from the regular menu we ordered the yum Mutton Seekh, Murgh Malai Tikka and the mouth melting and delicious Galauti Kebab and yes the Raan ( whole leg of lamb ) made to perfection with awesome flavors, succulent and mouth meltng meat. The galauti was fabulous with lovely flavors. We also loved the mutton champ or the rack of lamb ribs.
The first thing that each one of us ordered was the cocktails. The cocktails were named like Desi Tharras ( Country Liquor) a few on the menu that we sipped were the Gulabo, Somras,Santari and Basanti. All Dhaba versions of the famous cocktails like Bloody Mary, Long Island iced tea and vodka based drinks. They were innovative both in design and their nomenclature. They are served in small quarter bottles……. Loved them very much…..
Soon, the staff at the restaurant performed a dance on the number ‘badtameez dil’ for the customers sitting there. It was entertaining to watch them dance in sync and pretty good at that. This has become a usual practice or we can say this performance is like the DBC Anthem.
As if this wasn’t enough, the main course started to pour in. The main course included Balti meat, Amritsari Chhole, Lasooni palak, Baingan bharta, Paneer makhani and Dal Dhaba and yes the Butter Chicken. We could see the difference between the regular Dal Makhani and the Healthy menu Dal. And it was amazing to notice that the taste remained the same. Hats off to the Chef, for making such lovely preparations using less oil and fat yet making them taste so good.
The staff was courteous and it was great to chat with the Executive Director of Claridges Hospitality, Mr. Manik Kapoor on their future plans and vision. They are planning to expand to new places in Delhi soon.
The sweets were the highlight of the whole meal…. If we would have known that the desserts will be so good, we would have had a little less food but still we had the Baileys Kulfi, Gajar ka halwa, Moong dal halwa and Gulaab jamun.
We were the lucky few to savour the Pan, which they source from the very old Pan vendor located near the Claridges Hotel, Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi…..What a fabulous way to end the lovely meal !!!
Looking forward to the best of food and more such visits……
Cheers to the Team ……..
DHABA BY CLARIDGES
Second Floor, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi
Written By : Vickrham Vicky & Karan Puri
Pics Courtesy : Vickrham Vicky