Filling A Delhi Belly In Mumbai At Khane Khas

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FILLING A DELHI BELLY IN MUMBAI

WORDS BY MEENAKSHI REDDY MADHAVAN AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY SURUCHI MAIRA

I am a Delhi-ite by fate and geography. I didn’t have my year abroad like the friends who went straight from undergrad to a post-graduate degree somewhere cold, where they learned life skills and how to speak precisely when they wanted something. I stayed fluttering and vague, making jazz hands mixed with ballet arms when I couldn’t correctly express myself. To Delhi I moved three weeks after being born in my mother’s hometown of Hyderabad. In Delhi I stayed until I was 25.

Then, on a whim, I moved to Mumbai, as foreign a place to me as Warwick or Hamburg or New York were to my friends. This would be my “year abroad.” I entered the city eyes wide, gazing up at the big buildings where someone’s light was always on, no matter what time of night. I learned to navigate a completely alien system. I was only 1,384 kilometres away from home, but it felt as new to me as it must have done for Vasco Da Gama a few centuries prior, arriving south of where I was now.

khane khas bandra

I loved it. What 25-year-old woman wouldn’t? I was free, anonymous, cavorting about the city at a rate that belied my rapidly dwindling finances. (Turns out journalism isn’t the kind of job that lets you not only live without roommates but also eat in fancy places). But in moments of abject loneliness, I dreamt real estate dreams – one of the rooms of my tiny shared flat had a hidden door, when I opened it, I saw more rooms, more space. Sometimes, I ordered kaali dal three days in a row, just for that Delhi feeling. I got a Gujarati, Maharashtrian or foreigner-spiceless version of it. I wanted the food I had grown up with, comfort food, when the only thing that can ease your homesickness is a kabab roll without a whole lot of masala—just a smear of green chutney, onions on the side, thanks.

It was one of those Sunday afternoons, on a particularly blue Missing Delhi day that I discovered Khane Khas. Maybe “discovered” is the wrong word. Friends had been feeding me their prawn biryani in the middle of the night for months, but what I wanted was a Sunday afternoon feeling. How do you translate that into a menu? Turns out you can. While perusing the paper takeaway menu that comes in the home delivery bag (long before Zomato) I found Punjabi mutton curry. Two years of discovering kari patta in all my curries, whether North, South or Chinese had made me wary, but I decided to give it a go.

khane khas bandra

Reader, I married it. Okay, not quite literally, but this was what my soul and stomach had been crying out for. It was so authentic, I had probably only eaten versions at friends’ homes. It came with hot steamed basmati rice and plump potatoes cooked in the gravy, the mutton so tender it fell off the bone. I ate a big lunch, all on my own, then napped all afternoon, the humid air outside almost like the middle of a Delhi summer, a water cooler rumbling in the corner of the room, the evocative smell of khus making dreams even sweeter.

I held that mutton curry as a secret weapon when Mumbai got too much – and if you’ve lived there for a long time, you know the “too much” I refer to. I grew to love the sound of the male voice on the other end of the phone when I called to order, almost muscally saying, “Hello Khane Khas?”. My friends stuck to the rolls and the biryani. I didn’t think that mutton curry was for sharing anyway. It belonged to my private store of memories, home food when you’re away from home, a South Indian lady with Punjabi cravings in Maharashtra.

Khane Khas, Ground Floor, Silver Croft, T.P.S. 3, Junction of 16th & 33rd Road, Bandra (w), Mumbai 400 050. Phone: 022 2600 6970

 

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