Hamilton: The Indian team has been on the road for over 100 days now and one cannot blame Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co for yearning for spicy Indian food.
Skipper MS Dhoni with a fan at the kebab joint in January 2014
But the Men in Blue somehow find places where they can get their favourite fare. In Australia (particularly Adelaide and Melbourne), Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel were seen frequenting Nandos for its peri-peri chicken among other specialities — both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Here in New Zealand too, it turns out that they have a popular food joint.
Kebabs Salateen, which is at a stone's throw from the Novotel hotel here in central Hamilton, is a favourite among some of the Indian players. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh have been some of the frequent visitors here whenever the Indian team came down to play at Seddon Park.
A picture of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh with fans at the kebab joint put up on the wall of the restaurant
India cricket legend Sachin Tendular and his then opening partner Virender Sehwag have also visited this eatery. The place has been in existence for over 14 years and is owned by Khalid Mahmud, a Pakistani, settled here in NZ.
Ashraf Khokoon, manager of the kebab joint is not very forthcoming with details, but confirmed that a lot of other top cricketers also come to eat at the venue.
Kebabs Salateen in central Hamilton where most cricketers drop by for a bite
"Chris Gayle, Hashim Amla, Daniel Vettori, Jacques Kallis are some of the top cricketers, who have come here in the past," Khokoon told mid-day. The restaurant has a wall filled with pictures of all its famous customers over the years.
The Indian team landed in Hamilton from Perth on Saturday night and Khokoon, waiting for Dhoni to drop by is well prepared with the Indian captain's favourite kebab preference.
"The Indian team landed very late last night. That's why Dhoni hasn't come here yet. But the last time he was here (for the 2013-14 series), he had our mix kebab — cooked pieces of chicken and lamb filled into a roti with spicy sauces and salads. He liked it," said Khokoon, promising to make a kebab roll that MSD prefers. One bite into the juicy meat feast and you know just why Dhoni loves to drop by whenever he's in town.