Hotel Fanoos is a hole-in-the-wall establishment in Johnson Market, a Muslim quarter of town, serving up delicious grilled meats from the tandoor, rotis, and shwarmas for rock-bottom prices. Sean took us on a walk over there one evening recently when we were working late in the Babajob office. I had been keeping a mostly veg diet, but breaking it with mouth-watering shwarma and bright green chicken hariyali kebab was so good I knew it had to be right. The roomali rotis were paper-thin and the hariyali was spicy, juicy, and delicious. The kebabs were not quite as tasty as those at Khan Chacha, but certainly the best I’d tried in South India so far.
Two weeks later, we were working late in the office again and craving kebabs fresh out of the tandoor. We made the 15-minute walk over, and again ordered our favorites: chicken hariyali, roomali roti, and chicken shwarma. While we waited for our order, Sean ventured through the service area upstairs to wash his hands, and when he rejoined us had a look of disgust on his face that I will not forget. Per his warning, I did not go check it out myself.
When our shwarmas arrived, we were all quite hungry and didn’t inspect them too closely before we started devouring them. Admittedly, we had all noticed that the shwarma spit was almost bare, and that our sandwiches were made with some of the dregs lying at the bottom. It hadn’t occurred to us until we had each finished about half a sandwich that these strips of chicken would be raw. But indeed they were quite undercooked.
At this point, we had mostly lost our appetites. We nibbled on the hariyali kebabs and rotis that we had ordered but didn’t feel inspired to finish them. We each took a precautionary Cipro tablet that night and swore that we wouldn’t darken Fanoos’s door again. Everyone was fine the next morning, so we congratulated ourselves on conquering Fanoos and thanked the Cipro for whatever role it may have played in our success. After all that, the truth is I’ll probably be back, but I’ll stick to the grilled items and pass on the shwarma.
Bottom line: this place serves mouth-wateringly delicious kebabs, but it certainly comes with risks, even for well-conditioned stomachs like ours. I generally have no problem eating street food, or even the raw vegetables and chutneys that everyone warned me about, but I don’t mess around with raw chicken. If you stick to anything cooked in the tandoor, you’re probably fine, and if you must try a shwarma just make sure there’s more than the dregs left on the spit.
17 Hosur Rd, Johnson Market