Winner, winner, chicken dinner
Whether you're in for a quick snack or meal, this street-side eatery in Chembur is a convenient stop-over for chicken kebabs and rolls
In the first two weeks of moving into the neighbourhood, we would often notice a huddle around a table right outside Our Lady Of Perpetual Succour Church in Chembur East. Our curiosity piqued, we asked the autorickshaw driver one day to slow down enough for us to see what everyone seemed to be flocking to. Luckily for us, it turned out to be a chicken stall that serves a range of starters, served with naan or wrapped into a roll, making late working nights — when our brain has switched off and the thought of food only occurs as we are nearing home — easier.
We go there at around 10 on a Thursday night to browse through the menu. Mohammad Ramzan, who is manning the stall, tells us it's a verbal affair. We order their seekh kebab (Rs 120 per plate of four full kebabs) and a plate of red queen special boneless tikka (Rs 280 per plate), a part of which we convert into a roll.
While we wait for the marinated meat to be cooked in front of us, Ramzan tells us that the stall, which is erected every evening using boulders on the footpath, has been at the same spot for 59 years. Started by his father Noor Mohammad Khan when he arrived in the city as a 19-year-old who had run away from his home in Rajasthan, they use recipes he picked up while working in Mughlai restaurants in the area. And though Khan Senior started with mutton variants, they've been off the menu for about a decade now due to increasing cost.
We are interrupted by customers, who seem like regulars, and we are quickly handed our fare. The kebabs are slimmer than we expected, but the portion size is good. The succulent pieces of tikka are impressively flavourful, though the bread is a tad tough for our liking. And yet, we only notice it in our last bite, distracted by the refreshingly minty chutney and crunchy raw onion. We like that Khan has kept it simple, with the tikka masala doing most of the talking.
Liver and gizzard tikka
Next, we pick the shahi lollipop (Rs 150 per portion), liver (Rs120) and after a lot of debate (since we are not fans of innards), the pota (gizzard). The lollipop is not a drumstick, but a well-marinated chunk of chicken that falls off the bone, winning our fellow foodie's heart. But what ours is set on is the liver, which is crispy, meaty, flavourful and minimal, all at once. We end the meal with our pota debut and are pleasantly surprised because it's like a tastier version of the cartilage.
When we ask if they plan to expand, Ramzan explains, "We like this area because people here live in harmony. There's no brouhaha about religion and everyone simply comes here for the love of food. We don't want to go anywhere else." As we are leaving, Ramzan hands us his card with a number, informing us that they also cater a wider range of Mughlai food for parties and that he will be serving his Ramazan specials such as chicken malai kebab, chicken satay, shammi kebab and chicken cutlet, from May 8.
What we love about the food here is that it tastes like a home-cooked meal. And it is one; made fresh by Ramzan and his nonagenarian parents each day. Well, they can sign us up as regulars, though we might get our own rotis.
At Khan Sahab, Center Avenue road, OLPS school, St Anthony Church, Corner Road, Chembur.
Time 6 pm to 10.30 pm (Sundays closed)
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and also a complete guide on Mumbai from food to things to do and events across the city here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe
Kasa Kai Mumbai: Gaur Gopal Das' hilarious take on love, hook-ups and social media