Taking the legacy of The Claridges out of the hotel premises, the Dhaba by Claridges at DLF Place, Saket is an inviting option. Global yet desi at heart, the interiors at Dhaba by Claridges has an immersive décor that is symptomatic of the rustic Indian food scenario and transports you to that familiar highway experience. The décor is consciously kitsch, and dominated by various desi components; nalka (tap) chandeliers, wall posters with quirky lines, tyre wall-hangings, funky coasters and an actual truck makes your gastronomic journey at Dhaba by Claridges a desi ride.
One of the quotes says, Yeh neem ka ped chandan se kam nahi, Hamara Dhaba Taj se kam nahi. “All in all, Dhaba by Claridges lives up to the ambitious standards set by the unbeatable décor, bringing in the renaissance of the stereotype Dhaba ambiance we have seen growing up. The interiors come with their own contemporary adaptation to all things associated with Dhabas, creating a magical space of slick charm and innovative quirkiness…..Truly Bohemian!” says Sachi Gupta, Interior Designer, Dhaba by Claridges.
A bioscope cum gramophone welcomes you as you enter the outlet at DLF Place, Saket. A welcoming staff escorts to your table with a warm smile and helps you walk through the versatile menu, which is divided into three categories tawa, tandoor and patila, and delivers nothing less than a spectrum of delightful and authentic Indian cuisine.
The drinks menu is rather interesting with quirky names like Laal Pari (the dhaba version of the ever-famous Bloody Mary), Somras (vodka with aam panna) and Gulaabo (dhaba version of long island iced tea with kaala khatta). The menu also says, “pio ji piyo rajj ke piyo.” For non-drinkers, there is a Mock Tharra section which offers
Aam Panna, Virgin Paan Mojito, Jaljeera, Kala Khatta and Hadippa (tomato and orange juice flavoured with fresh basil and mint leaves with spicy flavour). Chef Quraishi was our host for the evening and helped us to select from the numerous options. For the starters we had Veg. Galouti, flavoured with cinnamon and black cardamom, this vegetarian version of the famous galouti kebab was no short on taste. Veg Kakori Seekh gave away subtle flavour of garam masala, Sauth chutney accompanies Tandoori Bhune and Dhaba Paneer Tikka is a signature dish, mildly spiced chunks of cottage cheese flavoured with premium saffron.
For the main course, we had Dal Dhaba, typical Indian kaali daal with the dhaba twist. Paneer Makhni is another interesting offering, cottage cheese simmered and finished in creamy tomato gravy. We
sincerely liked Kanastari Baigan Bharta, signature preparation of eggplants cooked in tandoor, mashed and finished with royal cumin, tomato, ginger and green chilli and served in a canister. Another dish we really appreciated is Tawa vegetable pulao, a diced melange of vegetables tossed with aromatic basmati rice pulao and brown onion.
Coming to the desserts, we had the typical Dilli-6 experience with Phirni (rice flour cooked with saffron and milk, served chilled) and Tilla Kulfi, all the more because they are served in an authentic manner.
“Dhaba by Claridges” food has no frills, is honest and cooked fresh. As the philosophy of any Dhaba goes, the food at our outlets is cooked fresh for each meal session using the freshest ingredients available. Our menu has been carefully curated based on the food that is prominent on the highway from Delhi to Amritsar. The food essentially has to be light, not heavy on the stomach and easy to digest. We try to keep the usage of butter and cream to the minimal, and the spices used are selected carefully depending on the type of the dish. At Dhaba by Claridges, the garam masala is homemade and is churned out of the premium quality of spices and we use different combinations of garam masala for different dishes. As this Punjabi belt does not boast much of seafood, except for fish, the influence of chicken, mutton and fresh vegetables are very prominent on the Dhaba by Claridges menu.” says Chef Ravi Saxena, Corporate Chef, Dhaba by Claridges.
Sit back and enjoy the vibe of the classic rural highway dhaba, minus the Delhi belly of course, while maintaining The Claridges standards, at surprisingly affordable prices.
Price for two: Rs. 1200 (approx)
Address: Second Floor, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi
Text and cover image by Supriya Aggarwal