New Delhi, India
November 20, 2013
Murthal lies about an hour’s drive from Delhi on NH1, on the road to Karnal. Murthal’s a small town, and Gulshan’s is successful enough to have spawned a series of shameless imitators: on two previous trips, we ended up eating at dhabas that called themselves Gulshan, but turned out to be complete frauds. This time, we’d done our homework and found out exactly which one was the real McCoy, so we pulled up close to noon at the one and only Gulshan’s, with huge cut out letters in yellow plastic in front.
Despite its fame, Gulshan’s is still a dhaba: a huge shack covered with a solid roof, but open in front (good, actually, because we could park just about ten feet from where we sat down). There are wooden deal tables and benches; each table has a small water cooler, a packet of paper napkins and a large jar of spicy mixed pickles. All along two ends are counters that sell soft drinks, potato chips, packaged snacks, even digestive mixes!
Gulshan’s menu is largely northern Indian: dals (lentils), vegetables, and so on. Strangely enough, pizzas are also part of the repertoire, and advertised all round the place. The specialty though is parathas—stuffed breads that are traditionally panfried, but in Gulshan’s case, roasted. We place our orders: parathas stuffed with paneer (a soft fresh cheese), boiled potato; grated cauliflower; and chopped onion. Each paratha comes with a good-sized helping of lightly spiced stuffing, and a generous dollop of unsalted butter on top, melting richly into the hot paratha. We refuse our waiter’s suggestion that we order plain yoghurt and a dish of buttered lentils—dal makhani—since the parathas are filling enough. We do succumb to the temptation to have dessert, though: a bowlful each of chilled kheer, a creamy rice and milk pudding garnished with raisins, chopped pistachios and cashewnuts, and powdered cardamom. Bliss.
Twenty minutes later, we’re sated and happy. The ambience may be nothing to write home about, but the parathas are excellent, the staff brisk and efficient if not brimming with friendly cheer. And the best part? With juices and a large tip included for our waiter, the bill comes to only Rs 200. Now that’s what I call value for money!
From journal Traipsing around Haryana