With my brother down from New Zealand to celebrate Christmas and New Year with family, it was also the perfect time to visit Delhi with family after a gap of over 20 years. My 11 year old was traveling to Delhi for the first time to meet her paternal uncles and aunts. This was made special as all the siblings decided to go together with their families and suddenly it was a huge group.
This trip was meant to reconnect with relatives, visit the famous monuments of Delhi & Agra and also explore the food in and around Delhi. Delhi brings to me special memories of Samosas, Kachoris, Chole bhature, home cooked mutton, tandoori rotis and so much more. It was time to relive all the nostalgia.
From the airport we headed straight to my cousin’s house and guess what the food journey had already begun. We were treated to a very late lunch (1630hrs) of Chhole Bhature and that set the tone for the entire trip. The crispiness of the ginger juliennes and the tanginess of the pomegranate was left in the mouth for a long time.
A quick cup of tea and we were ready for the 3 days we would spend in Delhi.
That evening we went to visit Bangla Sahib Gurudwara which is a replica of the Golden Temple in Delhi. This was my second visit there and it was a great place to start off the sight seeing for the kids. Talking about food; it was not langar time, but we did get the prasad or Karav prasad as it is called. I am sure many people would agree that the taste of the prasad in a temple or gurudwara or any holy place is something we revere. The prasad was warm and with the chill outside, bare foot was an experience will always carry with me.
We had decided to go to Connaught Place for dinner. It was already 2030hrs when we reached there and all shops were starting the process of closing down. We were advised to go to a place called Kake Da hotel for the non vegetarian food. Although still full with the late lunch we did decide to visit the rustic place. It was two floored and there was a person outside the restaurant managing the large crowd waiting outside the restaurant on a Thursday evening (A day when a lot of Delhiites are vegetarians). Since, we were a large bunch too; we were given a waiting time of 30 mins. We were happy to wait as we were not really hungry and wanted to have a good meal at this place.
Well, it was not easy and we had to force ourselves to get a table of 4 and then a few of us waited on top of another table till the guests there got up. That was embarrassing and funny. The restaurant was not very clean and neat but since it was highly recommended we were sure the food would be good. However, the sweat swiping hands of the waiters serving food was not a good sight to look at.
After settling down the vegetarians and non-vegetarians separated out on two different tables and we ordered quite a few things. The order was like Butter chicken, Mutton Seekh kebab, Dal Makhani, panner tikka and lots of butter naan.
There two things that really stood out were the mutton seekh kebab and the dal makhani. The rest was purely average stuff and could have been avoided. We later heard that the mutton curries are good there, maybe next time now. But, apart from the taste the place was value for money. If I can compare, there is a similar place in Pune on Kumthekar road, called Aware, just a short distance from the Alka talkies chowk. It is also rustic, value for money and the mutton there is to die for, as per people who regularly visit there.
Back to the hotel room we were preparing for a big next day of Delhi Darshan basically planning to do Lotus Temple, kutub minar, Red fort, Chandni Chowk and some shopping at Janpath with obviously food stops all around.
Food wise that day was really uneventful as we were running late and hence could not really have anything specific so we decided to have a good dinner. My niece suggested Pandhara Road which was a little away from Janpath or Connaught Place. This area on Pandhara Road is a small place with quite a few restaurants. We decided to go to Chicken Inn.
Well away from the street foods that we had till now, this was an excellent place which knew how to cook. We ordered Mutton Rara , butter chicken (we wanted to have a good butter chicken after the kake da hotel disaster) , paneer jalfrezi and rotis and of course some beer , that was needed after the day long travel in Delhi.
I, generally like a restaurant which knows where to stop in making the mutton soft enough to be eaten. Rara is a combination of mince meat and some large pieces of mutton. The meat was cooked to the softness desired and it was beautiful to end the day with a heavenly dinner.
The next day was the big day to visit the Taj Mahal so it was going to be a drive in the fog on the Yamuna expressway to Agra and we were expecting some beautiful food on the way. Very ambitious schedule of Agra, Vrindavan and back to Delhi was planned in just a single day and we were out to achieve it.
We started off a bit late, but thanks to the odd / even rule during our stay in Delhi, we were out of the city in no time. Cruising at a good 100 kmph we were off to sleep and in no time we reached a stop over which was a typical expressway stopover and not the kind of dhaba that we were looking for. Having said that it did turn out to be pretty interesting. It was breakfast time and we had not had aloo paratha yet in Delhi and we saw that almost all the people asking for that.
Surprisingly, this was not the aloo paratha that you get in Chandani Chowk which is deep fried. This paratha was thick, no doubts, but cooked in a tandoor. So in effect a tandoori aloo paratha , if I could call it that. The paratha was topped with a lot of butter and served with a bowl of curd.
Early winter morning and we could smell the pakoras being fried and served hot. This was irresistible and we had to order paneer pakoras. Topped up with chai and we were ready to visit one of the seven wonders of the world. While moving out of the place we realisedl that there were mirchi pakoras too!!! We picked up a plate full of them after we had hogged like crazy a few mins back. The guy giving us the plate was wondering whether we really wanted a full plate of chilli pakoras and confirmed twice whether we were serious. Sprinkled with a good amount of chaat masala on top we finished the plate of chilli pakoras on the bus with my brother consuming the most – 6 pakoras. The others had given up midway. A good, after breakfast nap, and we would be in Agra by Noon.
It was a Saturday and the Taj Mahal was filled to the brim with people. Thanks to the guide we could manage entry inside the place and back out with a ease. It took us almost till 4pm to get out of there.
Unfortunately, did not really get much to eat there apart from a bit of regular stuff like Bread pattice and a pizza so just quickly had a bite and wanted to try and catch Fatehpur Sikri. We were advised against that and went straight to my Uncle’s house there. A few biscuits, a good chai and we were out again headed back to Delhi and attempting to do Vrindavan. We tried doing Vrindavan but there was a huge traffic Jam and decided to just head back to Delhi.
On the way back via Vrindavan route there are no dhabas which serve non vegetarian food so had to settle for a vegetarian dhaba and closed the night with some aloo paneer subji, dal and roti.
The next day was the last day in Delhi so had to catch up on some shopping and another interesting food experience which I shall write in my next one