Divya and Deeksha Kapoor talk about a new franchise outlet of their iconic restaurant, ‘Dhaba Estd. 1986 Delhi’.

Most Delhiites are familiar with the iconic branding of Dhaba Estd. 1986 Delhi —the Indian restaurant at the Claridge’s Hotel. With a 30 year legacy of serving delicious highway-inspired fare, this brand has since expanded to multiple outlets across the capital city. Its latest venue is at the Commons at DLF Avenue, Saket. Sisters Divya and Deeksha Kapoor, franchise owners of this outlet, spoke exclusively to Sunday Guardian on the occasion of its launch. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Congratulations on the opening of your new outlet! How did this collaboration come about?
Divya: Thank you! Dhaba is an award winning brand with a thirty year legacy, so it matched perfectly with one of Delhi’s favourite leisure destinations – Commons at DLF Avenue, Saket. Azure hospitality headed by Rahul Khanna and Kabir Suri has multiple offerings, and my sister and I were happy to take on the franchise of their Dhaba brand to cater to all the lovers of North Indian cuisine.
Q. How has Dhaba stayed true to its branding and legacy all these years?
Deeksha: As is the case with all Dhaba outlets, ours also recreates the nostalgic ambience of a highway eatery, but it’s been given a shot of new age fun with kitschy interiors. We have vintage collages and retro Indian décor from the 80s and 90s, and use popular Indian weaving techniques in the form of Ikat fabrics. The focus is on keeping the decor environment-friendly by using recycled elements and community tables to encourage group seating. We aim to enhance the mood of the restaurant by using the mock façade of a building, designed like a small town.
Divya: Our menu carries staple legendary Dhaba classics along with some new beauties added in. Dhaba in Saket is set to recreate the same magic with even more of a Punjabi flair. The menu is divided into three parts called the Tandoor, Tawa and Patila, according to the method of cooking. Chef Ravi Saxena expertly helms the Dhaba kitchen, reconditioning its signature recipes to highlight the best of highway and North Indian cuisine concepts. Our food menu is inspired by travels down the highways of India and the eccentric by-lanes of old towns famous for unique age-old recipes. The essence and soul of Dhaba is Punjabi, but we have a whole range of regional dishes for everyone to indulge in as well.
 Q. Please share the highlights of the new menu?
Deeksha: We have stayed true to the quality and consistency of the food that Dhaba is known for and have incorporated recipes in use since 1986. These age-old formulas have been tested and served at Dhaba since its inception.
In our Tawa section we serve Tandoori Bhune Aloo which are tandoor roasted baby potatoes, shallow fried and tossed with spices, onions and saunth chutney. We also serve the traditional Vegetarian Galouti Kabab. Non-vegetarians enjoy our regular Galouti Kebab, as well as the Amritsari Macchi and delectable Chicken Tak-a-Tak.
Divya: In the Tandoor section we are serving seasonal specials like ‘Kala Sha Kala’ Kukkad, which is a preparation of boneless soft morsels of chicken marinated with blackened spices, finished in the tandoor. The Amritsari Kukkad made with half a baby chicken is marinated with hung curd and has a dominant smoky flavour of ginger and garlic. Tandoori Prawns, Bhatti Di Tangdi which is made with chicken legs marinated in hung curd and spices, Highway Chicken Tikka, and Sole Machhi Tikka are other offerings for the non-vegetarians. The vegetarians can enjoy our Hariyali Paneer Tikka, Tandoori-Fal which is an assortment of seasonal fruits marinated with saunth chutney and spices, skewered in tandoor, as well as the Dhaba Paneer Tikka.
Q. That sounds delectable! What about the Patila section?
Deeksha: Our Patila section is actually our most loved one. Non vegetarians enjoy our signature Handi Murg and the Tiffin Meat Kulcha, which is a spicy mutton curry served with kulchas in a two tiered tiffin. Other quintessentially famous dishes include the mutton curry of Dhaba Balti Meat, Handi Gosht and the Butter Chicken 1986, prepared in a rich tomato creamy gravy with boneless morsels of Chicken Tikka. For vegetarians we have the Daal Dhaba, which is made with slow cooked black lentils soaked overnight with homemade spices, as well as the Lahsooni Palak, Paneer Makhan Masala and Kanastari Baingan Bharta, which is our signature preparation of eggplants cooked in the tandoor, mashed and finished with royal cumin, tomato, ginger and green chillies. The Amritsari Chole is also an age-old favourite from this section.
Dhaba is all about fun and great food in true Punjabi style so don’t hold back, roll up your sleeves and as we like to say, enjoy Swag
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on [email protected]