“My granny cooks the best”
Atmospherics: The modest-sized restaurant that has a full-sized shikara inside (it doubles up as a table!) is run by a delightfully hospitable Kashmiri couple. Surinder and Nalini Sadhu are the eponymous ‘grand-parents’ (Matamaal means naani’s house) and it is they who greet first-timers and regular guests with the famous Kashmiri warmth. Very well located in a landmark building, just below the clock tower, it overlooks the main road. Authentic Kashmiri Pandit cuisine has a number of dos and don’ts that all orthodox observers follow: no onions, garlic, tomatoes or chicken. Mutton and fish, however are allowed and asafoetida is the underlying flavour in much of the food, besides red chillies. One or two dishes on this menu do contain chicken, but that is in deference to those who have been told to avoid red meat for health reasons. In addition, there are home-style daily specials, depending on which vegetable is in season. The best part is that Matamaal has its own Kashmiri-style bakery next door, where a variety of breads are made every day. Do not miss the roath: a delicious cross between a cake and a bread.
Table talk: no matter what dish you order from the menu, it will have been made by Nalini, with the help of two assistants. Hence, all the food really does have a homely touch to it, the only Kashmiri restaurant in the NCR to have that distinction: all the others have food cooked by wazas or commercial cooks. Nadur moinj (Rs 100) is the quintessential street snack of crispy batter-fried batons of nadru (lotus stems). Kabargah (Rs 200) are mutton ribs that have been simmered in milk, then fried till the meat is attractively chewy. The compact menu contains all the popular dishes of the Pandit community like tchok tcharavan Rs 200 (chopped lamb’s liver in a sour sauce) and Kashmiri rajma (Rs 100). In addition to the predictable triumvirate of mutch, kaliya and roghan josh (though they are perfectly delicious here), there is a wide variety of vegetable preparations that you will not find in any other Kashmiri restaurant. They are all home-style and include soczal (mallow) with aubergine, black beans with turnips and simmered haakh (Rs 100 each). Tchok wangun (Rs 100) is a delectable preparation of elongated aubergines in a tamarind-flavoured sauce.
Plus and minus: Unreal prices and warm hospitality.
Food: 3.50; Service: 4.00; Décor: 3.50
203, DLF City Court, Sikandarpur, Gurgaon
Open from 12 noon to 3.30 and 7 pm to 10.30 pm
Credit cards accepted; no alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 1000