Last November I was visiting Pune on work and decided to catch up for lunch with Anindyada, long term Pune resident, fierce food lover and a certified chef. Given the profile of my host I didn't meddle in the act of choosing the meeting and eating venue. All I had mentioned was I would willingly be shepherded to any destination as long as there was some meat on my plate. And meat there was, enough to cause my arteries to choke and taste buds to rejoice. It was decided we would meet at his old, quaint, landmark-ish restaurant of the city - the Blue Nile.
Although located in the heart of city, this building, nestled in the cool shadows of the been-there-seen-that trees nearby gives the place a welcoming feel on a warm, sunny afternoon.
Since it was a weekday lunch, that too kind of late around 2:30 PM the place was quite empty, with only 2 of about 10 tables occupied. The place exuded an old world charm, not completely unlike the United Coffee House in Delhi (which reminds me is another place that deserves a post of it's own) or Koshy's in Bangalore. The waiters were well dressed men in their mid forties, well spoken and fiercely proud of their association with the place.
As I had made my intentions clear in terms of the kind of food I was looking for, Anindyada didn't bother looking at the menu card and with the air of a regular exchanged some pleasantries with the articulate manager and placed the order. The food didn't take long to come to our table but a bit before it did arrive, on it's way, it's smells reached us. The kebabs, piping hot spicy chicken wings, were as delicious as they looked and had the soft, succulent texture you usually associate with the finest of their brethren. I must add that the green mint chutney and the light yogurt based dip significantly added to the taste and character of the dish.
Then the main course, and I was left stupefied because I had assumed that Peter Cat of Kolkata is the only place that serves this making you weak in the knees dish - the Chelo Kebab. The rice was warm and mildly flavoured, and each grain was buttered just enough to slip playfully over each other. It was difficult to resist the temptation of greasing the dish further with the chiplet of butter provided. I will be dishonest if I said it didn't add to the goodness. The Chelo Kebab, as the name suggests includes skewers of kebabs and we ordered a mutton and a chicken CK. The Mutton dish was a plate of rice accompanied by a sheekh kebab, while the chicken one came with three pieces of chicken tikka kebab. During the much informative lunch I learnt that the Chelo Kebab is a variation of the Biriyani, which was started in Iran and also got to know about the Iranian lineage of the Blue Nile. Though the North African nomenclature of the Iranian place in the middle of the Maharasthra still tickles my curiosity from time to time.
I take this opportunity to thank Anindyada for introducing me to this lovely eatery and the wonderful company laced with nuggets of information on varied subjects. If you happen to be in Pune and have just about enough time for a meal don't give this place a miss.
P.S: Besides the food that we discussed in detail, the place and it's management also display a keen sense of humour. This poster, along with many others adorn the walls of the Blue Nile.