I am ashamed to say that I am a poor Delhiite. In fact, it would be more accurate for me to say that I am not a Delhiite at all. I might have been living in Delhi for the last 35 years and might have sought employment in this city and had romantic entanglements and dreamt of buying a nice house in the posh South Delhi area, but I am not a Delhiite.
If I was, I would have known of this delightful place called Hunger Strike, serving up a delightful delicacy known as tandoori momos located in Amar Colony, which happens to be not very far off from my house. But I didn’t and hence I am not and now I am ready to die of shame and have my ashes dunked into a gutter!
It’s not even as if this place just opened up. Apparently, it’s always been there and a huge favourite with the students and locals alike. This saddens me to the core of my heart. I have gotten so used to air-conditioned malls and la-di-dah cafes that I’ve kinda given up on my city’s street food culture altogether. In an attempt to treat myself to overpriced Italian cuisine or Oriental delicacies, I have forgotten what it was like to roam the streets and eat at roadside stalls ignoring the flies buzzing over your head or the pile of rubbish strategically placed not a few feet away from where you were eating.
This is not to say that you should go out looking specifically for the dirtiest possible places to eat in. But note to self: Don’t become such an elitist that you let appearances keep you from enjoying the flavours of life. The case in point being … HUNGER STRIKE!
Like I said before, this place is in Amar Colony, Lajpat Nagar – all of 15 minutes from my home. I don’t think it’s advisable to go by car because parking can be quite a headache here. And that holds true for most days of the week. Thankfully for us though, we didn’t run into a lot of traffic on Sunday. Could be because of two reasons. One, we had the good sense to embark on a culinary expedition fairly early in the day, by which I mean around 1.30-2.00 in the afternoon. And two, this being a long weekend with 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th an off for most people, I am guessing most denizens of Delhi were away on a long weekend. Hence we got lucky
Oh, and in case you are curious, ‘we’ includes a colleague from work and our official tour guide, Bhavya, who is a walking-talking dictionary on all things that are worth being devoured with great relish in Delhi. I am sure she’s the apt companion on my journey to re-discovering the delights of Delhi’s street food. That’s her right there.
That’s Varun and Bhavya … (not very) solemnly shaking hands over the pact to remain die hard foodies forever!
And that’s me … ever happy at the idea of discovering something nice to eat.
Hunger Strike is a tiny hole-in-the-wall establishment that does not inspire a lot of confidence in anybody who is in the habit of frequenting the nicer restaurants and cafes around the city. If you are going in here looking for a fine dining experience, turn right back. But, if you are interested in having a truly incredible dish that just explodes in your mouth, plod right on. And, if you need it, take inspiration from their rate list which is a welcome change (to me, at least) from the exorbitant ones I am used to seeing everyday.
Since this was our first time here, the selection from the menu was restricted to two items only – tandoori momos and shawarma, although I was sorely tempted to order their chowmein. They looked delicious and reminded me of what I used to have in college. But good sense prevailed and we went with momos and shawarma. And let me tell you right away … these two little delicacies did a good job of firmly establishing Hunger Strike’s credo in my mind. In fact, tandoori momos, by themselves, packed quite a punch, and even if I hadn’t had the shawarma, I would have been more than interested in coming back to Hunger Strike and making this place my regular haunt.
As you can tell, I am fairly impressed by the tandoori momos. Who wouldn’t be? I mean, just look at them …
Not only are they momos – one of the most favored snacks in Delhi – they are tandoori-fied, which has definitely got to appeal to every North, South, East, and West Indian I can think of. Crisp on the outside, they give you the satisfying crunch of fried momos, but minus the excess oil and guilt. And on the inside, they are juicy, flavorful and oh, so divine!
Every single time I would finish eating one momo, I would go into mini-depression over the fact that the goodness had come to an end so soon. But then, I would perk up again looking at the other pieces lying in my plate waiting to be eaten. And with each plate containing 8 momos, there were enough reasons for me to be happy, then sad, and then happy all over again.
There is no place to sit and eat at Hunger Strike, so we picked up our goodies – 2 plates of momos and 2 plates of shawarma – and headed for the cool sanctuary of the car (Sorry, AC was an absolute necessity in a weather that varied between hot and sultry to muggy and sticky).
In the 10 minutes that it took for us to polish of 16 pieces of tandoori momos, there was pin-drop silence and all that could be heard was the noisy munching of three people who had abandoned all attempts at polite conversation and had busied themselves solely with doing justice to the treats they’d been handed. When the last piece of momo was gone, I sat back in content, smacking my lips in as un-genteel manner as possible, my culinary pleasure reflected in the face of my companions as well.
I feel a little guilty about not saying much about the shawarmas we ordered and to be honest, I would still give Al Bake top marks for their preparation. But, these weren’t that bad either. Also, with all our efforts focused on enjoying the momos, I believe that the enthusiasm got spent there.
In the end, all I can say is that I am surprised that there aren’t more establishments selling tandoori momos throughout the city. I am surprised they aren’t already a rage in South Delhi. Sure, Hunger Cure is well known, but, as a dish, tandoori momos have yet to receive their due credit. Till that happens, I am going to go back to Hunger Cure for my fill of this lovely snack and hope that it is soon available in every nook and cranny across Delhi as it’s humbler cousin – steamed momos!
My very reliable guide-cum-friend tells me that these guys can give Sagar Ratna a run for their money. This I have to check out. Some other day, though. Right now, I just feel like Anaconda after it devoured the crew of an entire ship. Time for a snooze!