My children, like most children everywhere, get tired of the same food with dismaying frequency. One of the few exceptions — that is, besides the eternal Maggi noodles — are the kebabs made by a lady who operates from her kitchen at home. We first heard of Vinita’s Kitchen at a dinner party where bite-sized cocktail kebabs were being passed around with drinks. To follow, there were, among other things, mutton pulao and chicken korma. If you ignore the cholesterol quotient, the korma would do a speciality restaurant like Karim’s proud. Like most others at the party, I asked for the name of the caterer, and from that time, the ‘kebab lady’ has been a more or less permanent feature of our menus at home. Here’s why.
Whenever you call, you’ll be asked what you need the kebabs for. If it is for children, Vinita automatically adjusts the pungency level downwards. The size is approximately double that for cocktail kebabs, though the recipe remains the same. You won’t get the tongue-tingling green chutney, but you will get a finely shredded salad. You may like to order paranthas. Made with pure ghee, they go well with the kebabs and keep nicely in the refrigerator. When my children are in need of a snack, they make their own sandwich with a kebab, paranthas and salad, and marvel at how good at cooking they’ve become!
Vinita makes mutton shammi kebabs and fish kebabs. We tend to buy the mutton ones more often because this is one purchase that the kids control, but the fish kebabs are better, besides being less common. Both are light, don’t drip oil, and seem to be made with the same care as they would in a well-run household. What’s more, although there are a dozen other dishes, most of which are made of mutton or chicken, it is the kebabs that are the most versatile. We’ve carried them along on picnics and out-of-town journeys; we’ve served them at parties and let them languish in the fridge for after-school snacks, and they’ve never let us down. The other dishes are mutton pasanda in a cashew gravy, chicken korma in a slightly tangy gravy that uses curd, koftas and hard-boiled eggs cooked together, mutton pulao that she’s honest enough not to call biryani and a couple of paneer dishes that are obvious tack-ons. Each of these is sold by portion — Rs 100 /usually gets you three pieces and gravy. Party orders are undertaken, too. I’d rate the korma the best, followed by the pulao and then the pasanda, though it has to be said that none of the other dishes rival the kebabs for sheer versatility.
Only one dish comes close: a sewiyan ki kheer that’s awesome by any standards. Studded with coarsely shredded nuts, it’s as decadent as a full-cream dessert. Other desserts include gajar ki kheer and dal halwa. The best part about Vinita’s Kitchen is that she delivers free of cost to most parts of South and Central Delhi.
Address: E-45, Lajpat Nagar-I
DIAL: 6325836; mobile, 98105-65607.
CHARGE: Rs 100 for seven mutton shammi kebabs or five fish kebabs or three pieces of meat/chicken with gravy or one portion of pulao°,
MINIMUM ORDER: If your order is really tiny, you might have to collect it from her residence; otherwise, she’ll deliver to your home.
ADVANCE NOTICE: 24 hours for large orders; same day usually suffices for smaller orders. Orders for individual portions are served in foil containers. Party orders are delivered in returnable utensils.