Next, we walked over to Savera which does the chai-samosa-nankhatai routine. The suleimani chai here is something that can be guzzled by the liter. The squeeze of lime and mix of sugar is so balanced that you really get your fix of tea! Almost instantly you will ask for the next glass. The tea is served in a double glass to make it easy to hold considering how hot it is.
From here, it was time to roll up our sleeves and even the bottom of our pants and dive straight into that singular road of smoke and carts that seemed to be dishing up goodness from a land unknown. We decided to get to Iqbal's on our way out and slowly started to walk into the lane of pushcarts. Believe it or not, it was like stepping into another world - Picture a fairly narrow lane. On one side you have a row of butchers busy at their work and tending to their regular customers. On the other side you have a row of large carts with tandoors and grills going full steam, with quails marinated whole and on display, with mounds of meats - beef, chicken and mutton marinated in various ways, waiting to be placed on to whatever medium constitutes their final run before they land on our paper.
And then, I still don't believe it is possible - but each of these carts have a small set of tables and chairs for their very own makeshift restaurants - take a seat if you actually dare (a lot of people do). Now for effect add on the cacophony of birds, the honking of bikes on a two way street, the bustle of people going about life and you pretty much know what we were standing in the midst of.
We stopped at one stall here and got all that we wanted - they all pretty much serve the same thing and I guess you stay loyal to one to get the best of everything. While our quail was cooking, we got ourselves the mutton and the chicken kebabs. The mutton, searing hot, continued to sizzle on our little paper plates. The marination had a coriander-yogurt base, made the mutton tender and even the fat that it came with was sensational to eat. The mutton disappeared fast and close on its heels was the chicken - this was the customary red masala - again am guessing a kashmiri red chilli-coriander-yogurt base which fortunately does not leave your fingers mehndi-like stained. Then came on the quail - we flipped it over to get a better photo of it as you see below. While the masala was nice, quail being quail is such a bony bird it gets difficult to stand, balance a couple of things and eat. Unless you make a bakra out of someone (in this case Sudhakar) and get him to pick the bird and make pieces for you.
We finally settled on Grand Hamza - a regular haunt for Sudhakar and former colleague, so while he was reliving the good times, we were there for the first time show. Do not go in expecting "fine dine" of any sort. It looks like a run-down Sagar-kind of place. We had to ask the staff to change the table cloth, the AC was not working and the fans pointed everywhere except us. But we were there for the food and so with Sudhakar at the ordering helm - we got ourselves a portion of mutton biryani, bheja fry and faham (tandoori chicken), both half portions.
The biryani comes with a brinjal salan and no raita. The biryani is typical of the area - light on the masala, filled with oil (in a nice way), with tender pieces. Think, younger brother version of Richies' biryani. The bheja fry Sudhakar declared as brilliant. I had a piece and agreed with him... that's as far as I go with innards and grey matter carriers. The faham was tender, not overcooked as chicken done this way tends to be. You order a biryani, you get to wrap up the meal with a sweet. In this case, a nice phirni.
You could think we were done after all this, but we literally rolled down the stairs, across the road to Savera and had (ok shared) a Suleimani Chai.