Women have bad hair days, I was having a bad Hindi day. Maybe I was just tired, but basic questions like “How do you say greater” in Hindi escaped me.
The day was compounded by some personal dramas effecting my business partner.
So I decided to walk from HB City Mall to 10 Number Market, an area named by the local bus stop, to enjoy a latte at Shake’n’Bake before heading off for one of Bhopal’s legendary hones of Punjab tandoor, Amutsari Kulche Chole.
If you want India, check it out, but If you want a 5 star experience it may not satisfy. But i was the locals who insisted I should check it out. I’m glad I did.
With my comments to follow, you may wonder why I recommend this side street cafe. But do not go in the flooding monsoon, when the floor was mudded wet and I go the runs.
So why do I keep returning there?
There seems something wickedly exciting about the place. The old tandoor looks more like a metal drum than the fancier clay. The cylindrical drum is heated by charcoal fire within the tandoor itself cooking the parathas stuck to the inner sides of the drum by live-fire, radiant heat, and hot-air, the the flavoured smoke from the fat and food juice that drip on to the charcoal.
My Hindi failed to make much sense of the staffs questions, reduced to pointing, the Palak (spinach) I wanted was not available, i misread the menu – until I realised the word for onion (pyaaz), had been replaced by English lipi (transliteration) of the English.
I order two parathas: one of onion and the other paneer, cost 80 rupee, served with rajmah and onion sauce.
Simple vinyl ‘table cloths’; stained walls squeezed between the cart of Yashi Chinese and Raspan South Indian Sosa opposite Nakhrali, a fashion store in 10 Number.
Staff in tshirt, trousers and chapels respond to an a singleted gentleman, who I usually remember in blue. He orders my bowl to be refilled with beans. Meanwhile, a blue turbaned Sikh sits at the front with the cash box. I’m sure his turban was orange last time I visited.
Rustic and delicious. He waves to me as I return the next day.