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Tuck into Kebabs at Arza Bibi
Kebabs have joined a long list of street food such as dahi vada, gol gappa, papri chaat, and bhel puri, which are increasingly being sold a la carte as restaurant-style dishes in a fast-food like..

BEFORE GURGAON became a fine-dining competitor to Delhi one could always have kebabs in Delhi at Nirula’s and Karim’s in the 90s, and at Chor Bizzare, Khan Chacha, Kake Da Dhaba, The Great Kebab Factory, Salim’s and Nizam’s Kathi Kebab in the 2000s. In 2012, the speciality kebab has well and truly moved out of perfumed and liveried restaurants in Gurgaon, and is now more widely available in kebab joints like Arza Bibi though Tandoori Legend, Sahib Singh Sultan, and Captain's Grill in Gurgaon are still the hotspots for large-portioned kebab dishes.

The first thing that strikes you when you enter Arza Bibi is the name of the restaurant. Arza Bibi takes inspiration from a namesake who was a cook in Delhi’s Old City during the last few years of the last Mughal emperor. The owners of the restaurant, Tegh Food & Beverages Pvt. Ltd., sourced Mughal recipes from Bibi’s ancestors, says Hridesh Sarna, the CEO of the group behind the restaurant. For Punjabis, the word ‘bibi’ also makes for warm re-collections as ‘babe’ and ‘bibi’ is Punjabi for mother or granny.  

The 25-cover Arza Bibi has a busy sitting arrangement with photographs of Old Delhi hanging on the walls – the furniture is minimal and the kitchen open. If there’s one signature dish that needs recommendation the Mutton Nahari (Rs. 180), which is flavoursome and the curry so good that you want a second helping.  The other Arza specials (Chicken Biryani - Rs 135, Dal Makhni – Rs. 125, and Galouti Kebab – Rs. 120) are tasty and sufficient for sole orders.  The rolls (all Veg Rolls are for Rs 110 and Non-Veg Rolls for Rs 120), and are sized well for an individual and are not semi-fried as in Nizam’s. If you want to partake something of everything, then go for the platters (Veg Platter – Rs 200 and Non-Veg Platter – Rs 250) as you will get an adequate sampling of all the major kebabs on offer.  

Arza does have disappointments - the soya kebabs are small soya nuggets and certainly can’t be called kebabs. Also, not many people would want to have dolled up Nutri Nuggets in a restaurant. The spicy sprinkling over kebabs can also do with a little less mango powder (amchur), and a better paste of garlic, ginger, onion, and a pinch of lemon or amchur.

The foodies who will most enjoy themselves at Arzi Bibi will be die-hard non-vegetarians. Vegetarians will have to do with kebabs of cottage cheese, the humble potato, soya chunks, and a mashed combination of spinach, peas, and white chickpeas (to which most non-vegetarians will say yuck!) while they watch a colourful line up of meats sizzling and parading in front of them. 

There’s one thing to say about such snug fast-service joints – it’s because of them that the kebab has become a popular and cost-effective alternative to burgers, pizzas, and sandwiches. Kebab-lovers also have to be thankful to entrepreneurs who are increasingly considering kebabs as the sole reason to start a food outlet.

Arza Bibi, which is open from 11am to 11pm at Galleria Market, Gurgaon, has branches in Central Plaza, Sector 52, Gurgaon and New Delhi’s Khan Market.

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