Tee Pee O – A Personal Discovery

I guess it has something to do with the character of person, you develop a liking of certain type of thing and that starts defining your taste in everything in life. And if I have to define that certain type for myself, I would put it as heritage. Anything that comes with a lineage, heritage, a story to tell, attracts and hold my attention. And I say this after considering the kind of bike I ride, cars I like, music I hear and other similar things. And the best part is, it comes naturally to you.
Couple of weeks back I was in Mohan Singh Place, and when I was stepping out, a small shop caught my attention. Yellowing Marbles, metaled counters clearly showed some age and the on the counter was sitting a Paraat of Biryani. Though it managed to grab my attention however that day, and couple of other times, I managed to ignore the allure as it seemed to be place catering primarily to non-vegetarians and seemed to have very limited things, more of canteen style.
The Old School Vessels
Ready to serve

This Saturday, I was in CP area around 11am, and was planning on a brunch. Lot of options were coming to mind, Chhole Bhature at Odeon in Gole Market, a hike to Sita Ram Dewan Chand in Paharganj, Kachoris and Bread pakoras of Hanuman Mandir etc. Then suddenly Kwality came to my mind and I thought it would be a good opportunity to sample their Chhole Bhatures, and given the humidity that day, I could certainly have used an air-conditioner. However as my luck had it, I pushed their door at 11:30 am, and they were closed. So I was again left wondering where to eat, when I went to Mohan Singh Place.

Now I was again standing next to this eatery, that had managed to get my attention on every occasion I have crossed it, a cursory look around and I notice Dal makhani, Shahi Paneer, Kadahi paneer written on its walls, besides other non-vegetarian stuff. Still not the kind of food that I was looking at that morning. And then I got a better view, a view of their dining area, cramped seats with rexine on them, tables with wearing out mica, off-white walls etc. Something that might seem not much to you, however me, I was enchanted. 
Onions with Masala and Chutney looked absolutely fantastic
The menu had not much to differentiate on it from any of the thousands of Punjabi/Mughlai Dhabas all over the city. Their speciality obviously seemed to be Biryani, and I was quite happy to see Egg Biryani on their Menu. So I ordered Egg Biryani, Palak Paneer and a Butter Naan. Immediately after my order, came a small plate of onions and Chutney, with masala on them. Then came the Biryani, the Naan, and Palak Paneer. Being a vegetarian (or rather eggetarian), my experience with Biryani is very limited, however the color, texture and small of it made it seem very good to me. Palak Paneer was different from what we get at most of the Dhabas in Delhi. It was not light green because of use of excessive Cream / Milk / Curd in it, it was dark green and with pieces of fried paneer in it. Coming to naan though it looked small compared to normal butter naan, however it looked well made.
Biryani, I can still smell the Aroma
When it came to taste, I guess it would suffice to say that it was on of those places, which have a flavor of their own and have not been influenced by the richness brigade that has taken over the dhaba food off late. Biryani was non greasy, well spiced, aromatic, if this is what Biryani is supposed to taste like, then I am in love with it. Infact the chutney served with Laccha onion and masala, went very well with it. Naan was as well made as it looked, just the right shade of golden brown and tasted quite nice. Palak Paneer actually reminded me of the one served at Karim’s, I absolutely loved the flavor of it, and tried mixing it with Biryani, which went very well with it.  
Palal Paneer
Butter Naan
I stepped out, and found out this place is called Tee Pee O (though nothing to do with tea :P) and seems to cater to a market dominated by tailors, clothes merchants and their customers. Had a quick chat with Pradeep Arora, who is manning the shop since 1975, which was opened in 1960 by his family. He said that they were the first people to bring the Biryani to New Delhi (I guess earlier it would have been a specialty in walled city itself) and they were quite popular for their Chicken and Muttom variety of the same. Though I have no way of verifying the claim, however from whatever I had, I can surely recommend the place and I am definitely going back again. We might organize a Raid very soon, and bring a post about their Non-vegetarian food.
One of the better meals I have had

My Rating : 3.5 / 5
Prices – Paid around Rs.215 for whatever I had.
Location : Mohan Singh Place is between PVR Rivoli and Hanuman Mandir in CP. To reach this place, enter basement of Mohan Singh Place from the side of PVR Rivoli, and it is the first shop on your right.
 

Shriram Center’s Canteen – Its all about Ambiance

The place – Shriram Center’s Canteen
Location – C.P. in front of Mandi House
Nearest metro station – Mandi House
First of all, the ambiance and location. Located in front of Mandi House, the entire place is lush green and frequented by the artsy Doordarshan and NSD crowd. More often than not, you will spot a gang of oldies singing and whistling old Kishore Kumar-Dev Anand songs or NSD kids rehearsing their lines. The best part of this place is its outdoor seating. In winters, you have got to sit outside and enjoy a hot cup of tea.
Food – The food (aleast the prices) takes you back to school when you had little money and one always used to explore new pocket friendly places. One thing you will see almost everyone eating is the momos. They may not be the most brilliant ones I have eaten but they surely are great in taste (I can eat momos in whatever form it is presented to me). The chutney too is good and decently spicy.
The cheese and onion toast or even the aloo toast available here is quite good. It tastes home-made with generous (but appropriate) amount of butter and perfectly complements the chai. The most unique part has to be the chowmein. It is made the same way I used to eat when I was a kid. When the bhaiyya would toss and turn the kadhai so much that only half was left in the kadhai by the time he was finished and the other half was thrown all around. It even tastes the same with onions, soya sauce, vinegar and is brown – black in color.
But the killer has to be the chai. You can get an adrak ki chai or an elaichi chai and both are splendid. It is the perfect accompaniment to everything you will order at this place. Even a non-tea drinker like me had two cups of tea here.
And all of this is extremely cheap. All the things that I mentioned came under Rs. 200. The service extremely efficient too. The bhaiyyas or the helpers are friendly, honest and non-letchery. But beware, the entry is stopped after 7.30 and the place closes around 8 pm. The best time to go to this place is in winters when the weather is perfect but summers also will do. Go to this place with a low maintenance company, who doesn’t look a million times at the plates or cleans the edges of tea cups with tissues or takes out hand sanitizer after every second, and you will have a blast. 
This is a place where people come to discuss politics, lovers come to hide from their friends and parents, drama students practice their lines, and where business ideas are made and trashed. If you are lucky, you may even spot the future superstar (I heard shahrukh khan used to come here all the time).
Go to this place for a trip down the nostalgia lane and enjoy some great comfort food on the way and you won’t regret it.