For years, I have watched my mother, making her groceries list as the month's end inches close.
I also remember her switching loyalties from time to time. At one point, Murree Kiryana was her all-time favorite, then came Malkato and now Cheema & Chattha is her retailer of choice.
Cheema & Chattha is more than a humble grocery mart. Not too long ago, it spread its wings further and opened up an eatery by the same name. However, the buzzword in town is not Cheema & Chattha, but CnC.
Despite being a foodie, I must confess that I didn’t know about CnC's existence until a friend of mine called to get my feedback.
"Come on, you haven’t had Desi Ghee Tandoori Paratha and Channa Dal at CnC? What world are you living in?!" he exclaimed.
Come the following Sunday, I invited a party of eight for 10am breakfast at CnC. My treat, I promised.
The experience lived up to its name, and is thus recommended for the readers' weekend plans.
Where to go: Cheema & Chattha
Cheema & Chattha Kiryana has been in business for the last 19 years in Islamabad, but it was young Waqar Chattha who opened an eatery of the same name in its storage space.
“I hold a Masters degree in Finance from Glasgow and have also worked as a banker in the UK, but my passion for food tops it all and here I am making my dream turn into reality,” shared the 27-year-old entrepreneur with Images.
The place caters to all strata of society: both parliamentarians and corporate executives in their Gucci and Prada PJs, and groups of laborers on an early lunch break are spotted among CnC's customers of the day.
When to go:
CnC open doors at 7am on the weekdays and by 12 noon on the weekends.
The place cannot accommodate more than 40 guests at a time, so don't dally too long in getting there or you'll risk getting stuck in the long queues outside.
What to order:
Since we already had our minds set on tandoori parathas and daal, we only vaguely scanned through the rest of the menu.
But Waqar proved to be a sharp salesman. He successfully enticed us into also ordering puri aalo channa, halwa, boneless chicken handi and chilled lassi. We agreed, and our breakfast became brunch.
The waiter soon laid down golden crisp parathas on jute thaals and daal channa in silver plated bowls on our table.
I took the first bite of whole wheat paratha without dipping it into the daal, as I wanted to feel the crunch of the dough and the taste of evenly glazed desi ghee separately.
The parathas were heavenly and would have made for a great breakfast just with a hot cup of tea. Daal with desi ghee just inflated the calorie count of the meal!
The puris arrived in puffed form, and one couldn't help but burst the bubble, which let out whorls of steam. It seemed to melt in nanoseconds, as it touched our taste buds.
The serving of aalo channa did justice to the puri as both got wiped out at the same time. It easily secured a B+ as our hands were still grease-free.
The lassi was quite refreshing, but tea would have been a more soothing complement to our meal.
The chicken handi received the lowest number of votes; it was nothing to write home about.
“There is no rocket science to making this paratha or daal," shared the banker-turned-master chef, who fills in when his cook is on leave. "Only two things need to be kept in mind: quality and quantity. I shop myself every day for the ingredients and personally supervise the preparations."
While not giving away his secret recipe, he further revealed, "All Cheemas and Chatthas grow up on these parathas and daal. This recipe comes from every household of Wazairabad and its surrounding areas."
Damage on the pocket:
Paratha/Daal carries a price tag of Rs260 per head, whereas Puri /Channa is priced at Rs100 without the halwa.
The Paratha/Daal combo is more economical as it is more filling and thus offers better value for money.