September 25, 2023

The great Indian Dhaba Revisited

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Bringing the classic roadside flavors to the palate, a Dhaba alludes to everything ranging from classic Indian breads to savory lentils and more. A roadside stopover in the true sense of the word, the quintessential Dhaba is a second home to thousands of flavor-savoring junkies.

However, the thing that’s outstandingly striking is, “What makes the Dhaba such a hit that everyone from the youth to the aged finds it irresistibly built into their lives”?  “Is it the flavors, the rustic appeal, or a cultural association that stands ages?”

Answers are different for different palates and are as varied as they come. However, the standout quality these free and easy outlets seem inbred with is the ‘feel-at-home’ factor. Indian food space very much is a marketplace for those for whom food reminisces a bonding of sorts. This is a world where Mothers’ recipes still rules the roost, and the association extends almost unequivocally across other household relationships. 

And that’s where the Dhaba is such a cult thing for a community known for holding up a fascinatingly high emotional quotient. That probably explains where our ballooning love for the Dhaba probably stems out from. Whatever comes out of the Dhaba kitchen is seen to possess a very special attribute which resonates with family ties. May be a mother’s delicacy, a daughter’s delight, or a son’s favorite!  And when there are believers big time of reliving deep emotions through culinary delights, the Dhaba has to score big.

Every Dhaba dish can be a personification; every meal a tug at the heartstrings. It’s then easy to see what goes into making the Dhaba a world of much beyond mere palatial gratification. It’s obvious that revisiting this association with a modern outlook is challenge bordering on trading between long- held sensibilities and modern dining. A fine line by all accounts!

But that’s what few of the modern age Dhabas have come to deal with. And only a few, like Dhaba By Claridges could walk out with greater distinction. The place is about being the best of both worlds, where the ‘quintessential Dhaba’ meets the fine-dining culture. The first of the ‘The Claridges Dhaba’ joints came up in 1984 and lent a strong patronage for the ensuing.

Dhaba Claridges’ has since then has been a defining term to an urban ‘Dhaba’. Cuisines range from authentic Punjabi served amid craftily engineered, rustically invigorating themes.

What fuels Dhaba Claridges to greater heights is the philosophy that a meal is best when treasured.