Dhaba has traversed a long and curious path over its three decades of existence. It began its journey at the iconic The Claridges Hotel in Delhi in 1986. While the original one boasts of the quaint old-world charm and remains a popular destination, a few years ago, Dhaba was spun off into a chain of casual and quirky independent restaurants called ‘Dhaba by Claridges’. Towards the end of 2016, Claridges sold the chain to Azure Hospitality group – the people behind Mamagoto. Soon after, the restaurant chain was rechristened to Dhaba Estd 1986. The Kondapur outlet infuses elements from the rustic dhabas in its décor to evoke nostalgia-tinged memories of dining at a dhaba while still offering the comfort of air-conditioning, cushioned seats, and polite service. The menu proudly showcases dishes that have been a part of Dhaba’s menu for 3 decades including signatures like 'Kanastari Baingan Bharta', 'Balti Meat', and 'Butter Chicken'. This does not mean that Dhaba does not play around with the recipes. The dishes are often subtly tweaked to suit the local palate. One of my favourites at dhaba is the 'Chitta Butter Chicken' – a sweet and tangy white gravy of chicken cooked in tandoor. The sharpness from the curd has been reduced over the past couple of years to make it more crowd friendly; however, in the process the dish has also lost umami. There is also a selection of newer dishes such as 'Achari Soya Chaap', 'Nutri Saag', 'Tiffin Chicken (homely chicken Curry and ajwain paratha served in tiffin boxes), and 'Rarrha Gosht'. The attached bar serves a selection of premium liquor along with 'Tharras' – a range cocktails inspired by the desi liquors. Bloody Mary morphs into 'Laal Pari', 'LIT' gets swirled with Kaala Khatta, and Whisky is mixed with sweet lime and chaat masala. There are also the classics like 'Mojito' and 'Margarita', but it is definitely the Dhaba specials that are more fun. For teetotalers, there a 'Fun Lassi' menu featuring desi and videsi takes on this favourite.
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