Islamabad - Just like a person with good writing abilities and knowledge can hope to be a successful writer one day, a foodie with good taste and passion for cooking too can dream of becoming a restaurant owner and Waqar Chatta is one such example.

Holding a degree from University of Glasgow, UK, in international finance, Waqar’s trials and errors on desi food in Scotland has landed him at a place in street 14, Tariq Market, F-10/2, Islamabad, which he has named ‘Chattas.’

The eatery is not a fine dining restaurant but it cannot be classified as ‘Dhaba’ either. Parting ways with Cheema and Chatta, the eatery’s menu is more or less the same as of the original establishment with a little variation here and there. The doors open early in the morning around 7:30am and the hungry stomachs not fed by their better halves in the morning make their way straight to the venue, whereas on weekends it’s brunch time and a family gala.

‘Puri channay,’ ‘aloo bujhia,’ Pakistani omelette and a range of ‘parathas’ are on the breakfast menu along with a tough choice between lassi and dooth patti. Nehari and the recently introduced mutton ‘paey’ too can be given due consideration but they can be kept for a weekend brunch.

Our gastronomic desire allowed us to order generously as it was 12:00pm, Sunday noon. Moreover, we wanted to try different items for future reference. ‘Halwa puri’ for starters was an obvious choice. ‘Chana’ or chickpeas were cooked with right ratio of masalas (recipes) which always help in quick digestion and keeps the burning factor out of sight whereas ‘puri’ too was crispy and fluffy both at the same time complementing channas; yes when it comes to halwa puri, it takes two to tango. Nehari was melting in mouth; the beef chunk swimming in the heavy gravy was marinated to perfection. The supplements in shape of julienned ginger and green chilli, mint and the squeezed lemon did manage to enhance the flavour of this royalty cuisine.

Moving on to main course, the menu covered everything and anything under the sun. Chicken in Karahi or handi, with bone or without, achari or madarasi, with mukhan (butter) or with desi ghee alone encroached all the space available in the Chicken items section, leaving mutton dishes fighting for their rights.

Our order included Desi Murgh mukhan karahi, desi ghee mutton karahi and butter chicken from the gravy section whereas Malai boti and tawa fish were picked from the BBQ items. The presentation of the food was not only appeasing but tantalizing for the taste buds as well. Butter chicken came in a clay bowl, Mutton in a wok, BBQ chicken and tawa fish in silver platter and lassi in a stainless steel glass sending the party on a very nostalgic ride. Our table presented a feast.

Doing justice to this spread and in order to savoir the taste of this high powered desi and foreign food, it was a must to taste them individually one by one so that one could differentiate one from the other. Desi murgh mukhan karahi carried a flavour of its own, tender and meaty unlike broiler chicken karahi which can’t come close to a desi murghee when one is looking for quality and nourishment both so there was no need to kill two birds with one stone, we should have settled for one. The gravy was ample enough to justify the meat’s existence. Butter chicken cooked in clay managed to save the day for the handi. It was creamy and succulent. One could smell the aroma in the multi coloured handi with butter oozing all over. Black pepper and ginger overpowered the taste of tomato in mutton karahi cooked in desi ghee, thus giving the hungry appetites what they were looking for. But the credit doesn’t go to the chef alone as it’s the magic of desi ghee which has made the wok wanted.

Malai boti serving was generous, twelve pieces of lightly charcoaled chicken chunks in one platter were evenly divided amongst the party of six but tasted a bit too mild keeping under consideration Pakistani taste buds. Tawa fish took a high rating when it was time to mark on a scale of one to ten. The sea mammal melted in the mouth in nanoseconds. Small pieces of boneless fish, sulked in homemade seasoning, it was a winner all the way.

However the showstopper at Chattas was the whole wheat tandoori paratha and daal channa in desi ghee. It takes one on a journey to Mian Gee, a restaurant-cum-dhaba in Kharian which is famous for its desi ghee tandoori parathas and daal for ages. The place can easily accommodate 50 plus guests at one time and expansion programme is very much in making and so is the menu.

-The writer is a freelance contributor.