What would be more exciting for food lovers if they found something simmering in their own city?
Kanpur has always been a place of make believe for me when it comes to delicacies served at almost every nook and corner.
This labour city, famously known as the Manchester of east, Kanpur is not only famous for its fine leather but also a speciality not known by many.
The city has a lot more to offer than just fine dining as it takes you on a roller-coaster ride of many flavours representing the North. A person can literally feed himself in just twenty rupees and there not a single day here when I don’t discover something new.
For all the Biryani lovers, Kanpur goes on step ahead. All hail ‘The Tikka rice’. Marinated pieces of chicken or mutton, cooked in coal tandoors and fried with the pre prepared biryani rice on a Tawa. Doesn’t that sound heavenly to you? It does to me.
Such are some places which somehow find their way to crawl into the memories of childhood. One of them in the heart of the city, the unbeaten king of mutton tikka rice, Makkhan Singh. As random as the name sounds, the grandeur personality of Mr. Makkan Singh is what defines the place.
Mr. Singh was known by that name for a simple reason, his food was fried in butter. Yeah, you heard it. His tikka rice is a detailed, moving evocation of my childhood. The era begins from my father’s time where he, after a couple of beers with his friends would enjoy a hearty feast at this small little joint. A plate of Tikka rice which was served for fifteen rupees would find its way to my childhood, fifty rupees a plate where my father would drive me and my sister here almost once every month.
Situated in Arya Nagar, a twenty-minute drive on my father’s motorbike, spearing through the gentle breeze under the monsoon weather used to be the cake and the biryani, the cherry on top. Father would park the vehicle next to the shop, put in on the double stand and me and sister would proudly sit on the seat facing each other. Sitting on thrones waiting for food. It was a small shop back then, with two guys tossing the biryani rice on the tawa with utmost ease, portraying their art. Mr. Makkhan Singh, giving me competition by sitting on his own throne, a plastic chair just on the side of the shop and his two young sons taking the order. We used to order the usual, a chicken leg and chest deep fried in butter with masala sprinkled on top and the famous mutton tikka rice. A plate of both to feed our small bellies.
As the city burgeoned and we grew up, the place never seems to look any different. The only thing which differs is the absence of Mr. Makkhan Singh and his son’s new grey hair. The shop has expanded with umpteen number of people pouring in for food. Now me and friends, after couple of beers head for a finisher meal at this lovable joint. Now the tikka rice is for one fifty rupees, but the taste still reminds me of the motor cycle seat and the spoon full of rice, bigger than my mouth.
Talking about the menu, Makkhan Singh is well known for his Tikka rice- Golden Saila biryani chawal with greasy pieces of mutton cooked in Makkhan (butter), egg rice, fried chicken and my favourite mutton shaami kebabs. The place is full of hungry foodies standing with their plates on the side of the shop and a small kid serving unlimited amount of onions and chutney made from tamarind, garlic and chillies, another thing hard to beat.
Among the queues of cars, people waiting for their order in that chaotic street, “chotu ek rice, do kebab” sounds bliss to me. A place that is a balance of sweet memories and great taste, Makkhan Singh is worth every penny.
Featured Photo of ‘Mutton Biriyani – Rich Maha, Vermont South” by Alpha under CC BY-SA 2.0