A book waved out to me from the dusty corner of a bookshelf last week. I pulled it out, recalling that it was a part of a series by Lawrence Sanders that had given me great pleasure once upon a time. The books were about simple mysteries solved by a character called Archy McNally. What had me totally gripped, though, was the description of sandwiches that McNally periodically created in his kitchen.
The thought of the sandwiches opened up the floodgates of sandwich memories. Whenever I think of sandwiches, I first think of Novelty Dairy and Store, as it is formally called, though aficionados also know it as Hawker’s House. It is at the corner of Birbal Road in Jangpura (phone: 011-43584168). The shop has been around since 1951, and I first tasted their sandwiches more than 25 years ago; I have been a die-hard fan ever since. I looked up the Net to see if they were delivering their sandwiches, and, to my utter joy, I found that they were, and in my neck of the woods, too.
So our dinner one night consisted of sandwiches that came from Hawker’s House. We asked for three plates of chicken sandwiches in white bread (₹100 for a packet of four triangles), chicken burger (₹130), tuna sandwich in brown bread (₹130), and sugar-free cold coffee (₹150).
The sandwiches were deliciously soft, and the stuffing, as always, was moist and tasty. They use a layer of a special mayo, and then fill it with sliced chicken, chicken salami, or mashed tuna. This is served with a tart green chutney and tomato ketchup. We tried out their chicken burger, too — a thick chicken patty flanked by onion and tomatoes nestled in the largish bun. The bun was soft, the patty crisp — and the two complemented each other well. I found it a bit salty though.
The delivery menu also includes mutton burger (₹130) and mutton burger with cheese (₹150). There are other kinds of sandwiches, too: chicken toasted in brown bread (₹120), vegetable sandwiches (₹90), cheese sandwich (₹100), pork ham sandwich (₹100) and tuna in white bread (₹120).
The normal cold coffee (much loved at home) costs ₹90. They also deliver omelettes: the chicken cheese omelette with two slices of bread costs ₹130.
Shanti Swarup ji, who ran the store, is no more, but his son and family have ensured that the standards are still high. The mayo that is added to the sandwiches is spiced up in the kitchen, and the chutney is prepared with fresh coriander leaves, onion, garlic and a bit of mint.
A family member tells me a strict hygiene protocol is being maintained — the staff is tested for body temperature every day and they have a sanitizing machine.
I finished the last crumbs of the chicken sandwich and thought fondly of Archy McNally. Time I pulled out the other Lawrence Sanders.
The writer is a seasoned food critic