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Delhi - Dinner at the historic Moti Mahal, Daryaganj

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If nothing else, Old Delhi benefited culinary-wise from the India-Pakistan Great Partition when, Kundan Lal Gujral, an enterprising chef from what was to become the Pakistani half of Punjab moved to Delhi and opened Moti Mahal in 1947, bringing with him his cooking skills which he'd honed in Peshawar since 1920.

Who's Kundan Lal Gujral, you may ask? Well, he's THE man who *invented* the Tandoori Chicken as we know how it's prepared and served in almost every North Indian restaurant (and some) around the world today. He was also the man who invented one of my favorite Indian dishes of all time: the Murgh Makhani, or "Butter Chicken", with its sweet, rich, creamy sauce blanketing smoky, aromatic tandoori chicken pieces.

I was at Moti Mahal this evening - to pay homage to an Indian dining icon, as well as satify my curiousity: how does butter chicken taste like in its birth-place?

Dinner this evening consisted of:

- What else but the Murgh Makhani (butter chicken), of course. It was very well-prepared here. We opted for bone-in chicken pieces (the boneless version is also available). It was *delicious*, though not mind-blowingly good.

- Mutton burra, now *this* was absolutely scrumptious: meaty, fatty, perfectly seasoned - even better than the version I had at the historic 100-year-old Karim's (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892811) a couple of days ago.

- Rogan josh: now, *this* was spectacular - again, perfectly-seasoned and not too salty (like I find in many places in Delhi), with fall-off-the-bone tender pieces of lamb.

- Kadhai paneer: nice, but not particularly memorable. Warning: when the description says "midly spiced" here, it's actually more potent than that by US standards!!

- Dhal fry: surprisingly oily and spicy here - I was always used to mild dhal fry elsewhere.

- Garlic naan and laccha parantha: standards are extremely high here, with perfectly-textured bread served piping hot.

Superb meal. Live music featuring some retro singing realy complemented the 1950s atmosphere in the restaurant.

Address details
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Moti Mahal
3704, Netaji Subhash Marg
Daryaganj
Delhi 110002
Tel: +91 11 2327 3661

 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. Scenes from Moti Mahal - people who'd dined here included Indira Gandhi, John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

     
     
     
     
     
    1 Reply
    1. re: klyeoh

      More scenes from Moti Mahal:

       
       
       
    2. What a blast from the past, klyeoh. I ate here with my husband back in 1976, I remember liking the tandoori chicken very much.
      The chefs look so smart these days!

      1 Reply
      1. re: M_Gomez

        It's an utterly charming place, M_Gomez. Although my colleague and I who went there was taken aback initially by the rather empty dining space when we first arrived at 8pm - only another table of 4 Japanese tourists were present.

        Then, people started arriving after 9pm, and we remembered that formal dining in India starts pretty late (much like in Spain). The place was bustling and nearly full by 10pm.