If the name conjures visions of sheesh mahals, viziers, courtesans, and exotic aromas, you’ve come to the right place.
Mughal Darbar, close to Tapti hostel in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus is the Indian communist’s homage to Persian indulgence. As you pass myriad expressions of youth culture (that are best left unelaborated), you spot a twinkling light in the distance, behind which the yellow bulb hides a proletarian shack. A decidedly Big Brotherly sign at the entrance advises: “Pay in Advance”.
The little paper flyer that lists the menu offers a wide choice of mughlai preparations, some of which are rationed. For the Greater Good, perhaps? Having made your selection and paid, you are dismissed to the nearby outdoor benches, where you can frolick with the resident mongrels, whet your appetite with kapital banter, pat yourself on having found a place which doesn’t serve those (*%$@*ing multinational) soft drinks — and convince yourself that it must be a matter of principle. But it’s worth it all. The naans are flavourful — just a little sweet, which makes them set off the rich food so much better. The paneer tikkas make an excellent combination with them, though you would certainly have done grave injustice to the place if you didn’t also sample the butter chicken, the seekh kabaabs, and the mutton stew..
I’ll spare the reader the details of how the meal was demolished; it’ll suffice to say that we spent two hours there, regaled ourselves with campus legends, ate to our heart’s content, ended up overordering so much that two or three more people could have easily dined on the leftovers… and yet it all came to just about Rs. 100 per head.
The satisfaction of having exploited the labouring classes by paying them far less than the use value of their produce, and that in the very heart of the country’s communist mecca, was of course a bonus.