Sunday, September 23, 2012

Copper Chimney - Still good after all these years

Out of the blue, I had this urge to eat at Copper Chimney. During the last years of school and thru my college days, Copper Chimney was `the’ place to go. It had an upmarket - for those times – image, and South Bombay’s movers and shakers loved going there to eat Punjabi food. Copper Chimney was located at Worli, in, if I remember correctly, the Blind School building. There was a sign outside which said that the owners ate there. As time passed, Copper Chimney opened something that they called the Copper Club. I have no idea what happened to this. Then Copper Chimney moved a couple of buildings and is now located in what used to be the Lotus cinema building.  

Over the years Copper Chimney expanded, set up branches, diversified and I, frankly, could not remember the last time I had been to Copper Chimney. I believe that today Copper Chimney and all the brands spawned by the original owners are now part of Kishore Biyanis Future Group.

I had no idea if my urge was sensible. Would the food be as good as I remember, was it worth going to Copper Chimney? A few days ago I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner and they had ordered some Chicken Kebabs and a `Raan’ from Copper Chimney. Both were excellent and held their own despite being brought home. Most people I asked were like me, not having gone to Copper Chimney in years. Then, I remembered my man on the move realtor, Mr. Young K, mentioning that he frequented Copper Chimney at Khar. So I asked him. Young K was enthusiastic in his response; he went on to say that the original Copper Chimney at Worli was a notch better than any other branch. He said I would not regret the decision to eat at Copper Chimney. Since Young K is someone I listen to in matters of realty, and have not regretted it, I was reasonably certain his recommendation would not be something I would regret.

So, on Friday, we made a reservation at 9pm at the Khar Copper Chimney and proceeded, as is our wont, to down a few intoxicants at our favourite drinking hole Toto’s Garage. Thank God for this, as shall be revealed later. At the appointed hour we reached a half full Copper Chimney and requested a table that was well lit so as to aid photography. Please remember this is Indian food so it photographs very poorly. It was a rather large restaurant on the first floor of a new building. The restaurant was rather well set up with the Copper theme running all thru. On identifying a suitable table we set about looking at the three menus handed over. One was the drinks card, one the main food menu and the third a special offering `Purani Dilli Ka Zaika’ or `A Taste of Old Delhi’.

The booze card was the easiest to deal with. All booze was staggeringly expensive. A simple 330 ml Kingfisher beer was a mind boggling Rs 250/- a Glenfiddich was a numbing Rs 550/- for 30 ml. Phenomenal booze prices. To put it in perspective, an Isle of Jura at the ITC Grand Maratha’s restaurants and bar costs Rs. 600/-, and that is a 5 star hotel with 5 star prices! So the Rs 550/- being charged at Copper Chimney is a truly stupendous mark up. Luckily, there was an offer of 1 for 1 free on Kingfisher Blue. That was handy, one for me and one for HRH the Queen of Kutch.

That being done it was on to the `Purani Dilli Ka Zaika’.  HRH the Queen of Kutch zeroed in on `Alu Tikki Chola’ [Rs. 120 + service charge in September 2012] – Potato Croquettes with Garbanzo Beans – a `Chaat’, typically savoury street food as a starter. This can be really good. A hot `Tikki’ crunchy outside soft inside with ice cold yogurt and topped with boiled `Channa’ and the sweet and spicy chutneys. The one served was unremarkable. Ordinary.

Alu Tikki Chola

For our main course it was two more selections from the `Purani Dilli Ka Zaika’. One was `Jamma Masjid Ka Gosth Korma’ [Rs. 450 + service charge in September 2012] – Lamb curry from the Jamma Masjid area - and the other was `Chowk Ke Chole’ – Garbanzo Beans curry. The `Jamma Masjid Ka Gosth Korma’ was very similar to a `Nehari’ which we have eaten in both Dum Pukht as well as at Delhi Durbar. This version did not have the clear gravy. However I must say that the `Jamma Masjid Ka Gosth Korma’ was really good. The strong `Kewda’ flavour the dish had is something I do like. Good quality lamb shanks, obviously cut on a band saw and not hacked with a chopper. The `Chowk Ke Chole’ [Rs. 250 + service charge in September 2012] was also very good. The Channa was cooked in very dark thick gravy. Both of us lapped this up. Our friendly server recommended that we eat the `Chowk Ke Chole’ with something called ‘Peethi Ki Puri’ [Rs. 70 + service charge in September 2012].  This was a Puri stuffed with some sort of Daal.

Jamma Masjid Ka Gosth Korma

Chowk Ke Chole

Peethi Ki Puri

Having ordered all this new fangled food, I wanted to eat what I remember from days gone by. The `Chelo Kebab’ and the Butter Chicken. It was clear that we could not order both, there was no way we could have eaten everything. We chose the `Chelo Kebab’ [Rs. 360 + service charge in September 2012] which Copper Chimneys has had on its menu from its early days at Worli. I must mention that the Copper Chimney interpretation of a `Chelo Kebab’ would render an Irani speechless, it is totally unauthentic. However, it is absolutely delicious and is Copper Chimneys signature dish, unreplicated despite the passage of so much time. It consists of a simple Chicken Kebab grilled in the Tandoor, and, rice. To the rice is added lashings of cream and a touch of sugar and the consistency is almost porridge-like. This is a very nice dish. This dish itself was worth the meal. Brilliant. It was exactly like I remembered it and it was lip smacking.

Chelo Kebab

At the end of the evening all that food and a single beer set us back by Rs 1700/- including the 10% service charge. Not bad at all. Let me give you another perspective. A single dish at Dum Pukth will easily cost you Rs 2000/-. Here the entire meal cost us Rs. 1700/- You will of course remember what I had written a few paragraphs ago. A Glenfiddich at Copper Chimney costs Rs 550/- while an Isle of Jura at Dum Pukth will cost you Rs. 600/- Pricing is a funny game is it not?

In conclusion, Copper Chimney is alive and kicking. Mr Young K was once again correct in his advice. Out of the 4 dishes we ordered, the only dud was the `Alu Tikki Chola’. The other dishes were good. If the Khar branch is anything to go by the Worli branch should knock your socks off. We are most certainly going back to eat the Butter Chicken and their `Raan’ both of which are their specialities. And, yes, another helping of `Chelo Kebab’. Just make sure you drink somewhere else.


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