Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The world's classiest butter chicken and other gastronomic adventures

This was courtesy my brother in law Ajay Sharma, who serendipitously  discovered it on Facebook  and was intrigued by its price. For the site says, in the most apologetic manner, that it costs Rs. 6000 per portion and very sorry but that's what it costs. 

They don't offer much of an explanation  other than that they use fine ingredients including Evian mineral water (which tastes terrible on its own, if you ask me) and Hunt's tomato paste (which I have never heard about).

There were a few who, very rightly, ranted on the Facebook page, that they must be out of their mind to price, at Rs. 6000, something like a butter chicken, excellent specimens of which are available for Rs. 200 or less a portion.

 As if in anticipation of  these kind of responses, the site actually suggests two places which serve excellent butter chicken (Moti Mahal and Mughal Mahal) where the stuff is way cheaper. It's just that OUR butter chicken is Rs. 6000 per portion, they say. They don't say "period" after that sentence but you can just sense it.

Ajay, of course, gastronome that he is, promptly became their fan on Facebook and wrote them an appreciative comment. And lo, they decided to gift him a sample of their Butter Chicken  - one portion flown in from Hyderabad (where it is made, and where it is sold) for his exclusive enjoyment. 

I rushed to sample the stuff as soon as I heard about it, partly because of the fact that I was getting it free and partly because I was very hungry, the missus having decided basically to starve me, over the last few weeks, with egg whites, celery, iceberg lettuce and other things currently banned under the Geneva convention.

At Ajay's house, I ran into the founders of Anaarkali themselves. A youngish couple, one Mr. I. B. Saxena and Ms. Padma Prasad, they had personally carried their culinary masterpiece with them. I was touched. 

They were extremely reticent and seemed embarassed at all the gushing appreciation about their business spirit that Ajay and I were heaping on them. Eventually, we got them to talk a bit about themselves and found out that they cooked it themselves. Personally. No cooks, lackeys, assistant vice-presidents, nothing! Moreover, they're pretty successful businesspeople in everyday life, worth many doubloons and in no n eed for the moolah they must be earning from this venture, if indeed they earn any. Amazing!

Anyway I'll cut a long story short and say that the butter chicken was awesome. Superb. Excellent. Definitely the best butter chicken in the world!

Ok, I'm probably not the world's leading authority on butter chicken, my earlier experience of it having been the "Lalit" butter chicken of Goregaon West. Lalit, a fine restaurant in my opinion, interprets "butter chicken" as "butter 50%, chicken 50%". This makes it yummy but unidimensional. 
Anarkali's version, on the other hand, is a lot more sophisticated. It has many nuances of flavour, with ingredients like saffron and olives finding their way into the plot. 

Comparing "Anaarkali" to "Lalit" is not fair. It's a bit like comparing Laurence Olivier to Akshay Kumar. But like all bourgeois, I could not but ask myself the inevitable commercial question "Is it worth Rupees Six thousand"? 
The answer, dear reader, is a resounding "yes"!
Provided, of course, that it is somebody else's Rupees Six Thousand.

No, I'm being mean there. I would pay 6000 for this butter chicken. It would have to be an occassion, though. The chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, perhaps. Or appointment to the casting department of some prominent bollywood production house.

Something befitting the Classiest Butter Chicken in the world.

(tune in tomorrow for the 'other gastronomic adventures' because i'm falling asleep)


Arun Sundar said...

Do they ship abroad?!

The Cloudcutter said...

Saffron? And olives? In butter chicken? For 6,000 bucks? Really?
Did they promise you a lifetime supply of the stuff for free?

Blame it on the severe diet your wife has put you on, but I don't think you know your butter chicken that well. Which is just as well,'s just butter chicken for crying out loud!

Anyway, believe it or not, but what I really want to say is that this is a fabulously funny and totally entertaining blog, and well written to boot! I've just been reading through your archives and I'm damned if I'm going to be able to sleep now. I have to stop laughing for that!

Cheers, and do give yoga a chance. The benefits are definitely more qualitative than gymming (no, your wife didn't put me up to say this!)

Siddharth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Siddharth said...

Since you just compared him to Shri Laurence Olivier, Shri Akshay Kumar will certainly hire you soon as the head of production for his next movie "Maroon" or perhaps "Kkkkkambakkkkt Ishkkk 2"


Prasun said...

Hunt's tomato products can be found on supermarket shelves in America in various forms - puree, diced, peeled etc. Of course, a chef would have to be crazy to admit that they actually used that stuff. If they did, they'd try to pass it off as "locally grown organic etc".

gauri said...

I'm not complaining. Butter chicken with Hunt's Tomato Paste and uh, Evian Natural whatever Spring Water costing 6000/- is like a ticket for some KishanKumar-Mandakini movie costing 6000/-. I'd be happy to not pay even a couple crores for it :P

The best ever highway dhaba butter chicken - 200/-
A good mindless movie like bheja fry - 50/-.
The Rs. 5750 saved - priceless :P


PS: Hunt's?? Really??! I have a can of that in my kitchen for emergency quick-fix entertaining - and I've never used it yet, out of respect for the emergency guests :-|

PPS: But seriously, with your description, I'm beginning to believe it's worth your 6000/-. Don't spend it yet, I'll come to India later this year :D

The God Of Tall Things said...

It is very much worth Rs 6000/-. You see, the hen they use to make the Butter Chicken was the same one which laid golden eggs.

maxdavinci said...

That would be the most expensive boob-job in the animal world.

lucky hen!

RukmaniRam said...

really? they boast about using canned tomatoes?

Gradwolf said...

Lol, 6000 bucks!? Reminds me of the Friends episode where Monica says they must use their china only when the Queen comes over. So Anarkalli only when something like that happens?!

Sowmya Srikrishnan said...

Oh my god! Butter Chicken? Its "apachaaram apachaaram" in my Tambram household.

and really? 6000? we are so useless when we are dead!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Was this chicken sprung from golden eggs? 6k?

Ahem, you might want to consider washing it down with

and ahem, for the next day

You need to give that anarkali suuitable company no?

narendra shenoy said...

@arun - They don't even ship to Bombay! At Rs. 6000 per portion, though, I think the butter chicken merits its own H1B visa

@cloudcutter - Thanks! And 'cloudcutter' is a nice name!

@siddharth - :-0

@prasun - So I hear!

@gau - You're on! Even better, I'll make my own version of the Rs. 6000 butter chicken which tastes exactly the same. Trust me.
And, by the way, if you're coming down to Mumbai, it'd be great to have a coffee or something.

Thegodoftallthings - LOL!

@max- LOL!

@Rukmani - Says so on the site too! :)

@Gradwolf - I'd definitely order it if there was a big enough occasion.....

narendra shenoy said...

@sowmya - :)

@cynic - Lol @ the water and the toilet paper. Anaarkali is very modest by these standards!

Actually, come to think of it, we pay through our nose for all things French, without even thinking of 'why the fuck'. I recently bought a bottle of champagne for 7000 rupees. My wife thought it was too sour and refused to have anything to do with it. Anaarkali chicken is tasty atleast. said...

First time here.
Did they say that watched over the chicken as it grew.

BTW do they sell any of these awesome Butter Chicken!!

Anonymous said...

Naren, you see, these chickens were celebrity chickens.. they have a roaring hotel business...

tch tch.. to think you dont even know your celebrities well..

Please spare our celebrities, become vegetarians... the common brinjal and tur dal fly cattle class and yet they are being penalized. please go green


IB said...

Greetings Mr. Shenoy,

Just wanted to write in to thank you for putting up your views about Anaarkali Butter Chicken on your blog. We really appreciate it. We are happy to have had a chance to serve you and feel really happy that you liked the taste of our chicken.

And just a correction. Me and Ms. Padma Prasad are colleagues who have been working together since 12 years, but not related otherwise.

Thank you once again. You comments really make making Anaarkali worth the effort.


IB Saxena

Bhel Puri & Seekh Kabab said...

Two hilarious factoids from their website, "What's good taste without a good feeling? That's why for every Butter Chicken we deliver, we give meals to 20 people, as we believe it helps Anaarkali in aquiring its very distinct taste."

Otoh, it also says in the FAQs, "Do you deliver naans with my order?
No. Your order of Anaarkali does not include any naans or rice. "

Rs.6000 would get me a nice bottle of 18-year Macallan or Johnny Blue.

As P.T.Barnum said, "There is a fool born every minute."

Chaotic Planner said...

You got me there at Hunts! Thats like telling someone in the US to pay $1000 for dal since there is xx Garam Masala in the food (xx being the cheapest one available in the market!)!

Shruti said...

!! 6000 !! what were those? talking chicks?

Satish Bhat said...

6k for butter chicken ! Sounds like out of an episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" !

Reminded of "Dollops"- a neat little resto in Manipal, serves decent butter chicken according to general consensus...been there sometime ?

Anonymous said...

Here, in this part of the world, they make an exotic dish called 'Angoor Kaddu'(Grape Pumpkin Curry) . Btw, the ratio stands at 1 Angoor: 1 Kaddu.

Rs 6000/-? Must be using Llama's milk (I said Llama, not Lama) for making butter!

Maddy said...

wow ! 6000 buck platter!! yeah if you go to some 5 star brit place, it will be about 60-70 pounds - sort of close to that amount..lot of money for a bit of bird. But then using evian and tomato paste, that must be truly horrid. the best would have the sweat of the maker - like the mannadiar's i ate at..

Yatra Tatra Sarvatra said...

Apropos the comment by Mr. Saxena, the chef of Rs. 6k chicken. The grammatically correct usage is "Ms. Padma and I" and not "Me and Ms. Padma....."

But I guess Rs. 6k never meant correct English.

Ajit said...

Hey Shawn,

Great to read your blog & good to know that age hasn't taken toll on your sense of humour.

- Ajit Gaikwad

Anonymous said...

Hey Shawn,

Great to read your blog & good to know that age hasn't taken toll on your sense of humour.

- Ajit Gaikwad