Sunday, March 17, 2013


Mouthwatering Memories

I am in a blue mood. It is past midnight and I am feeling hungry.

My spirits plummet and I sit downcast in desolate silence and indulge in forlorn self-commiseration.

Should I:

Mourn the past (which makes me feel miserable)

Speculate the future (which causes me anxiety)


Ruin my present moment (which makes me melancholic).

Or should I think about the two things guaranteed to lift my spirits – good food and beautiful women.  

In fact, I dread that the day I stop relishing good food, or appreciating beautiful women, for on that day I will know that I have lost the zest for living and I am as good as a dead man!

As I languish out here in this godforsaken environment bereft of gustatory or visual stimulation (Colaba and Churchgate but distant memories), I close my eyes and seek to simulate my senses.

That’s the trick – if you can’t stimulate then simulate.

Okay, so today I will think about good food.
I try to think interesting thoughts, evoke happy nostalgia, and suddenly a mouthwatering memory rekindles my spirits as I vividly remember the tastiest chicken curry I ever eaten and truly relished long back, 25 years ago, sometime in the 1980s, at a rustic wayside dhaba on the highway near Visakhapatnam or Vizag as we knew it. 

The ramshackle place was called NSTL Dhaba (or NSTL Dhabha, if you prefer to spell it that way).

Why did it have that name?

I do not know. 

Maybe the place does not even exist now. 

Or maybe the rustic dhaba may have metamorphosed into the ubiquitous motel-type restaurants one sees on our highways. 

We reached there well past midnight, well fortified and primed, as one must be when one goes to a dhaba, ordered the chicken curry and watched it being cooked.

Half the joy of enjoying delicious food is in watching it being made – imbibing the aroma and enjoying the sheer pleasure of observing the cooking process. 

And in this Dhaba the food was made in front of you in the open kitchen which comprises an open air charcoal bhatti with a tandoor and two huge cauldrons embedded and a couple of smaller openings for a frying pan or vessel.

They say that the best way to make a fish curry is to catch the fish fresh and cook it immediately. 

Similarly, the best way to make a chicken curry is to cut a chicken fresh and cook it immediately with its juices intact. 

And remember to use country chicken or desi murgi or gavraan kombdi for authentic taste.

And that is what is done here. 

The chicken is cut after you place the order.

And then, the freshly cut, dressed and cleaned desi murgi is thrown whole into the huge cauldron full of luxuriantly thick yummy looking gravy simmering over the slow fire.

How do you cook your Indian Mutton or Chicken Curries? 

Do you first fry the meat and then add water and cook it?

Or do you cook (boil) the meat first and then fry it? 

Here the chicken will be cooked first in the gravy, on a slow fire, lovingly and unhurriedly, and then stir fried later (like throwing in a tadka into a hot cauldron).

Yes, first cook (boil) the whole chicken in the gravy. 

Then cut into pieces and throw into hot oil and stir fry. 

Lastly throw in some gravy, stir vigorously and give a finishing touch and garnish.

There are a number of whole chickens floating in the gravy and the cook is keeping an eagle eye on each and every one of them. 

From time to time the cook gently nurtures the floating chickens and helps them absorb the flavor and juices of the gravy.

As the chickens absorb the gravy they become heavier and acquire an appetizing glaze. 

Once the cook feels a chicken is ready (30-40 minutes of gentle slow nurtured cooking), he takes out the chicken, chops it up, and throws it into a red-hot wok pan to stir fry, basting the chicken with boiling oil. 

Then once the chicken is nicely fried, the cook ladles in a generous amount of gravy from the cauldron and gives it a final fry. 

When ready the chicken curry is garnished with crisp fried onion strips and coriander and savored with hot tandoori roti. 

We have a bowl of dal (simmering in the other cauldron) duly “tadkofied” as a side dish. 

The chicken is delicious and the gravy is magnificent. 


We eat to our heart’s content – a well-filled stomach radiates happiness!

I still remember how delightfully flavorsome, tasty and nourishing every morsel was, and just thinking about the lip-smacking rustic chicken curry has made me so ravenously hungry that I am heading for one of those untried and “untasted” Dhabas in my vicinity to sample their wares.

If you don’t find this type of Dhaba Chicken anywhere just try and make this rustic chicken curry at home. 

Remember the cardinal rule for cooking meat - first cook and then fry ...! 

It is easy, and delicious - you can take my word for it.

And if anyone in Vizag is reading this, do let us know whether the highway dhaba still exists or has it vanished. 


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like this article?
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below:

Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART:

About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal:
Professional Profile Vikram Karve:
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog:
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1 comment:

pradipwritenow said...

Dhaba food used to be good but now it is seldom so. The owners say a common word no one has patience. So to serve you within 5 Minutes the cook it in a large scaLE IN WHICH BOTH CURRY AND CHICKEN WOULD BE COOKED SEPERATELY.