THE CLAIM – Delhi-Style Best Butter Chicken
You will never forget the taste of the Best Delhi-style Butter Chicken you ever tasted. Every time someone talks about a place that serves the best butter chicken, your memory teases you. That creamy, melt in the mouth red gravy, that stick of butter slowly melting, sinking into the chicken as you serve a piece, that juicy chicken and that perfect marriage of tangy tomatoes and sweetness of cashews. It all comes like a head rush and Yummmm.. my mouth begins to water even thinking about it!
A friend told me about Tawa Street, a tiny shop on the other side of town that claims to serve Delhi-style, best butter chicken in Pune. “That is a risky claim”, I thought, Delhi people are very sentimental about their butter chicken. If you don’t get it right, they will rip you apart on social media, and every other media available to them.
Court is in Session
I made quite a journey to test the claim, 20 kilometers to be exact, and on a weekend evening Pune traffic is rude, rough and unforgiving. I felt like I deserved an award for driving across town at that hour. It better be worth the trip or I will be the first one to rip that claim!
True to the name, Tawa Street, in fact, was almost on the street. People eat on the pavement right next to a busy road. But it’s a risk you got to take for a promise of good food, because many times such small shops surprise you with the yummiest food. This minuscule restaurant was brightly lit, as bright as Delhi people can be. The owners were very warm and welcoming, like most Delhi people are. But the big question was, is their Butter Chicken like Delhi Butter Chicken as well?
The menu is fairly tiny and includes simple Punjabi food from rajma rice, chhole to Shahi paneer and keema pav. Although, keema is not really Punjabi food, they served chicken keema which was surprisingly juicy and succulent to be chicken! I loved the keema masala and really enjoyed the taste, until I found it was chicken keema, and then I was really blown away! I’ve worked in Luxury hotel kitchens, Chicken keema easily dries out while cooking and it is really tough to keep it juicy. The guys in the kitchen must have some skill to do that.
I had already gorged on the chicken keema pav and tandoori chicken, which was not on the menu, before the butter chicken was even served. TheTandoori Chicken was delicious and the masala had reached to the bone, the quality of chicken was outstanding, very gawran (aka desi) chicken flavor. If you want to try this, you need to request them on the side. If they aren’t too busy, they might oblige.
The Delhi-Style Butter Chicken
In the end came Tawa Street butter chicken. I wasn’t that hungry to bother about it. Butter chicken is available everywhere, I know what it is supposed to taste like. I can have it anytime, anywhere. Or can I?
*Takes a bite, pauses a second, widens eyes and wildly digs in for the next bite*.
Not this butter chicken. Not this gravy. No one can create this awesome Delhi-style, amazeballs Butter Chicken. No one I know in Pune at least.
I’ve eaten butter chicken everywhere from Shadi Buffets to UK Curry Houses, from Luxury five star hotels to Dhabas in Amritsar and Ludhiana. Believe me when I say very few people get that Delhi Butter Chicken right. My all time favourite go-to shop used to be in Mahim, Mumbai, right next to a mosque. He adds color in his gravy, but when you taste that butter chicken it is worth it!
Tawa Street butter chicken was etched in my memory just like that. I had thought that I’ll eat just one bite to taste and be done. But no true blood, Butter Chicken lover can ever do that to really good butter chicken. I ate one bite and I couldn’t stop after that until I wiped the bowl clean. It was so yummy and not at all sweet. Just like Delhi-style butter chicken should be. Not too hot, not sweet, distinct, perfectly balanced cream and spices, lots of chicken tikka pieces, just right!
Tawa Street is so far away from me, but when I feel like Butter Chicken, no other butter chicken in Pune will do. Go try it out today, they put a good quantity of chicken pieces in it and at Rs280, they serve good quality food and it is worth it. They also serve Shahi Paneer for vegetarians, which is made in a similar gravy base.
I tried this in Jan 2017, if you try it after me, let me know if they are maintaining the quality and what you thought of that butter chicken.