New Delhi, India
March 11, 2013
Kebab Xpress, as the name suggests, is about kababs, fast food style. They even have a hot pass-through behind the counter, through which paper boxes of kababs and tikkas and lidded plastic bowls of daal makhani come through from the kitchen behind.
Kebab Xpress is mostly fairly predictable kababs and related fare: seekh kababs (mutton or chicken), tandoori chicken, chicken tikkas, chicken or vegetable biryani, butter chicken, daal makhani, and a couple of options—paneer tikka, a soya-based kathi roll, and tandoori aloo. There are naans, lachcha parathas (especially flaky and fluffy) and pudina parathas (topped with a generous sprinkle of dried mint leaves).
We ordered a daal makhani, a portion of tandoori aloo, mutton seekh kabab and chicken tangri, with a naan each. Also, to drink (Kebab Xpress only offers soft beverages), we ordered an iced tea each. We paid up (Rs 558, inclusive of VAT) and the order taker told us that we could go sit down; the food would be brought to our table.
Kebab Xpress has seating both on the ground floor (very limited, here—just about three tables, and all of them were occupied) and on the first floor. So we went up the stairs to the first floor and sat on the red-and-yellow chairs (these two colours, along with white, dominate the no-frills décor of Kebab Xpress). The small wall-mounted TVs (on which an ongoing cricket match was being shown) were on silent mode, but a gang of very loud college students at the next table were making a huge racket.
Fortunately, they piped down a bit when their food arrived—and our trays were brought up just a couple of minutes later. The first tray had two little plastic bowls of green chutney (mint? Coriander? We couldn’t tell; it was rather nondescript), and three small bowls of sliced onions, with a tiny wedge of lime each. It also had three cardboard boxes, one with the chicken tangri (three legs), one with the tandoori aloo (two longish toothpicks, each with two halves of a stuffed potato), and the third with the mutton seekh kababs. A couple of minutes later, the second tray arrived, with two paper glasses of iced tea (with lids, but no straws), a very wobbly clear plastic bowl full of daal makhani, and a paper quarter plate with the two naans on it.
By the time we’d sorted things out, we realised we were short of napkins, plates, and straws, so my husband went downstairs and got us some. Except for the trays themselves, everything else is disposable.
The food was a mix of average and good. The daal makhani, for instance, was nice—creamy, lentil-ly, but not too greasy or heavy. The mutton seekh wasn’t terribly spicy (one reason why I’m always a little wary of ordering this dish—most mid-rung restaurants cram it full of chillies). It was succulent and fairly good, even if it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. The chicken tangri was fine, too, but the tandoori aloo was a let-down. This was a boiled potato, halved and stuffed with a mixture of mashed paneer, spices and herbs, before being skewered and cooked. I’ve had tandoori aloo before, and at its best, this is gorgeously crisp and golden on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside. This was lukewarm and limp on the outside, almost cold on the inside, and tasted of very little except the spice mix known as chaat masala.
The meal was filling enough for us to forgo dessert (Kebab Xpress has one dessert on the menu: teeliwaali kulfi, ‘kulfi on a stick’, a big favourite in Delhi).
If you want fairly cheap kababs in the Connaught Place area, this is an option. Don’t expect much to choose from, and don’t expect mind-blowing kababs.
From journal Kabab Town: Finding Delhi's Best Kababs