30 places to eat in India right now!

Today I am writing an unplanned post after a really long time. I am more than just excited for this, you will soon know why. Read on.

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I am writing this post for this week’s Discover Challenge: The Poetry of List-Making. Discover Challenge is a weekly challenge hosted by WordPress with different themes every week & the reason you are reading this post is because this week’s theme fit like a glove to a life situation right now. When I moved from India to Berlin & then to Ljubljana, like most Indians, what I missed most was the food. I LOVE INDIAN & INDIAN-ISED FOOD. I love writing lists too, especially physical lists – with pen & notebook. So, I started making a list of places in my notebook where I want to eat at once I am back to India, random food places that popped in my head at any time. This list was meant purely for fun & now I am sharing the joy with you.

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The original list

If you are in India right now and you are a food lover, you can try some of these because, well, you only live once.

Disclaimer 1: This is not a ‘must-eat’ list because it isn’t even my favourite places, heck, I haven’t even eaten at most of these. They are just food places that came to my head while I was missing my home country & its food. So, I just noted the places for future. Also, most places are in Delhi, because that’s where I live & that’s where I will be eating immediately after going back. Haha! So, its natural.

Disclaimer 2: I personally believe that the heart of eating in India resides in its street food, more than the fancy restaurants. However, this list may not represent that because I am more inclined to note down fancy restaurants lest I forget them, but street food & important street food joints are so ingrained in my being that I know even if I forget noting them down, I’ll remember them when I am around. 🙂

Now that we have the important bits covered, let’s move to the 30 places in India (mostly Delhi) where you can eat right now. I have also tried to reason why a particular place came to my head. 🙂

  1. Big Chill: This is one of my favourite Italian joints & I have explained here why I miss it.
  2. Kake Da Hotel, Chandni Chowk: I liked the food of number 3 in the list & since they have the same names, I got reminded that a friend highly recommends this.
  3. Kake Da Hotel, CP: I like the spicy, rugged North Indian food here.
  4. Cafe Hawkers, CP: I visited this with few friends & realized that thankfully it does not do just average food with amazing ambience, like most ‘cafes’ these days. I really liked the food & they have huge portions. Yes, I am going again.
  5. Hunger Strike: This is a small momos joint in Lajpat Nagar & I have been wanting to go here since my B.Tech days, so the craving is at least 4 years old. They are supposed to have one of the tastiest momos in Delhi & momos is my drug of choice, haha!
  6. Majnu ka Tila: Not a food joint, it is a Tibetan refugee area in Delhi & I have this feeling that I would love to try the food that most restaurants & cafes sell here.
  7. Andhra Bhawan: A very simple, no-fuss Andhra food canteen that everyone seems to rave about. I have to try.
  8. Diggin: A super pretty, really dreamy cafe. I always thought its famous due to its ambience, but I have heard the food’s very good.
  9. Wow Momos: I have been around this joint so many times & always acted stingy because why spend even slightly more on momos when you can have them for so cheap. You can judge me.IMG_20150422_184840
  10. Woodbox Cafe: They have pretty food photos on their social media & many people I know like them, although they don’t seem to be exceptionally wow or something.
  11. Blue Door Cafe: I don’t know, long ago I read a blogger’s review of this place & it stayed with me, although doesn’t seem to be very out of the box.
  12. Big Yellow Door: Lot of people recommend & food seems to be delicious!
  13. QDs: Because, oh, just go here
  14. Uber Cafe, GK: We celebrated a friend’s bachelorette here & quite unexpectedly, I loved the food here, almost all the things I tried were fabulous.
  15. Cafe Lota:Recommended by friends
  16. Sakley’s – The Mountain Cafe: Recommended by friends & read about it somewhere
  17. Ivy & Bean: Many bloggers I follow seem to love it
  18. Moet’s Sizzlers: Everyone who has lived in Delhi as a child seems to love it, they have old memories with their families here, I think I should give it a go!
  19. Sitaram’s Chole Bhature:The iconic Chole Bhature joint in Old Delhi, I have tasted here & the food is heavenly!
  20. Rajma Chawal at Shanker Market: I am not a rajma chawal person but this joint is super popular & the way rajma chawal is served here – chaotically arranged on a plate with extras – makes me miss my chaotic & flavorful India so much! ❤IMG_0441_Fotor
  21. Epicuria: Curiosity! Is it a fancy food court? Is it just something overhyped? I want to know. This new place in Nehru Place that every one of my generation seems to visit is on my list, just for the heck of it.
  22. Cafe Di Ghent, Meharchand Market: Anyone who has been here loves it so bad, I feel criminal to not go & check it out.
  23. Theos, Noida:I am not a dessert person, but this comes so highly recommended, I have to see for myself what’s the big deal.
  24. Dolma Aunty’s Momos: I am a momos lover & if there was an award for the thing that I missed most in Europe, then please hand the award to momos! (They are available in Asian stores, but only non-veg ones, and Berlin being the cosmopolitan baby that it is, has some momos’ joints but they don’t manage to match up, sadly).
  25. Elma’s Bakery, HKV: Same as point 3.
  26. Various street vendors selling Gol Gappe: Because obviously.DSC_0225
  27. Various street vendors selling Momos: Because obviously.
  28. Kota Kachori, Jaipur: Kachori is an Indian snack, a fried puff filled with spicy lentil or onion mixture, it is super yummy & the ‘Kota Kachori’, a specialized version from a place called Kota, is my favourite version so far. IMG_20160101_161420_Fotor
  29. 5 pani wale gol gappe, Jaipur: These are super popular in Jaipur, although not exceptionally delicious, still eating gol gappe with 5 differently flavored waters along with my cousins who live in Jaipur is one of my most fun experiences!
  30. Visiting new cities in India & eating there: Truly, when you go somewhere, you start appreciating home more. In my case, though, I am feeling bad that I am almost 25 years old & there are so many unchartered food in India yet unexplored. Can’t wait to change that.

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed compiling it! Please let me know in comments if you happen to check out any of these places. Also, you can read these if you want more foodie recommendations.

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Sights & Sounds of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi

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I convinced my classmates to make a morning trip to Chandni Chowk for a food walk of sorts.

Now, who wakes up in hostels at 8 in the morning on a weekend? So, the trip obviously got delayed and we were rushing through things because everyone had other commitments too.

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Yes, that’s an excuse why I couldn’t click enough but a valid one at that. Here’s whatever I could manage.

Can I please begin by saying that I lovvvvvvvvvveeee (yes, I had to write it like this) Chandni Chowk for the old world charm that it exudes?

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The famous Chaat shop ‘Natraj’

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Parathas getting made. This is a phone photo.

I am totally in awe of the tiny old style shops where the owner (or manager) still sits on a gaddi (cushioned seater) and the shops are stocked with all sorts of bling, as this market is known for wedding-related things.

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The beautiful doors

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The area I visited for the famous parathas (Indian flat bread, Google for details :)) is famously known as Kinari Bazaar or the market of borders. Borders, the bling-y, glitter-y and all other kinds that women buy to design their clothes and put these across their saris, dupattas, suits and so on. This market is thronged by women from all across Delhi (and beyond) going crazy for the beautiful, beautiful borders. How I wish I could click some of them! Also the even more beautiful shops they were housed in! Apart from the reason mentioned in the post’s beginning, I could also not click because shopkeepers at such rugged places generally get offended when you click. However, I am definitely going to take chances next time.

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Press Release: Asian Hawkers Market celebrates the best of Asian cuisine this October

ASIAN HAWKERS MARKET

23rd to 25th October, 2015; Select Citywalk, New Delhi

A hawkers’ market for the gourmet in you.

Take an amazing culinary journey from Tokyo to Bali via Sichuan and Yangon without stepping out of Delhi.

Asain Hawkers Market

New Delhi, 23rd September 2015: AS MANY AS 18 leading Delhi-NCR restaurants and one solo operator have signed up for the Asian Hawkers Market, a first-of-its-kind celebration of Asian cuisine from the Far East and South-East Asia, being organised on October 23-25, 2015, at the city’s busiest food and retail destination, Select CITYWALK, Saket. With a month to go, the organisers expect at least 10 more participating restaurants or food retailers to come on board.

Right after the Dussehra festivities when Delhi’s weather is expected to turn mellow, these five-star and standalone restaurants will come together at one location to present the cuisines of China, Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (there will be Chinjabi on the menu too!). They will be operating out of picture-pretty stalls and colourfully festooned food carts.

The participating restaurants include the multi-award-winning Neung Roi (Radisson Blu Plaza, NH8), Royal China, Mamagoto, Guppy by ai and Pan Asian (Sheraton New Delhi) as well as the ever-popular Jade (The Claridges), dimsumbros, Asia 7 and En, the reinvented Sampan, and newcomers such as Yum Yum Cha (the offshoot of the trend-setting Yum Yum Tree), Chi Ni (Dusit Devarana), The Fatty Bao, Wow Momo and Chi: The Asian Cookhouse. Also on the Asiagn Hawker Market’s crowded platter are the successful home delivery service Asian Haus; the instant hit, Social at Hauz Khas Village; and start-up entrepreneur Aftab Sidhu’s The Pho Kart, which will dish out finger food from Vietnam prepared by a cook who has just returned from the south-east Asian country.

Together, the participants will present the hawker experience, which is the backbone of the Asian food tradition, with gourmet touches to make it special. The portions will be small, so that visitors can sample different cuisines without feeling uncomfortably full, and the prices will range from Rs 100 to Rs 500.

The Asian Hawkers Market is the initiative of four well-known food impresarios — Siddharth ‘Sid’ Mathur, Director & Head of Food of the phenomenally successful Social and Food Consultant for My Square, Select Citywalk’s food court; Atul Sikand, creator and curator of Facebook’s busiest Indian recipe-sharing group, Sikandalous Cuisine; Tanveer Kwatra, Executive Chef, Le Meridien Gurgaon; and acclaimed restaurant critic and food blogger Sourish Bhattacharyya.

On offer at the event conceived and curated by them is an eclectic mix teeming with sweet and savoury options to inveigle Delhi-NCR’s food aficionados to make the Asian Hawkers Market their destination on all three days. And although food is dominant theme, it is not the only defining feature of the Asian Hawkers Market. Explains Sid Mathur: “We have taken time to research design, music and entertainment concepts, and shops selling general merchandise — all with an Asian element or influence. We are certain there will be something for everyone.”

The event’s co-presenter and venue partner is Select CITYWALK, which is Delhi-NCR’s busiest food and shopping destination, attracting 30,000-plus footfalls on a regular day, and more than 50,000 to 70,000 on weekends. Commenting on the alliance, Select CITYWALK’s Executive Director Yogeshwar Sharma says: “It is an absolute delight to collaborate with Siddharth, Sourish, Tanveer and Atul, who have carved a niche for themselves in the F&B industry as food connoisseurs. We at Select CITYWALK always try to bring something new, exciting and unique for our shoppers, hence this time we are bringing a whole new food experience. Not only do we want the city to try the flavours of authentic Asian food, but also we want to provide a platform where top restaurants serving Pan Asian food can come together, interact, explore and discover new ventures.”

Atul Sikand summarises the philosophy driving the Asian Hawkers Market: “After Indian, we love the cuisines of the Far East and South-East Asia. Delhi especially is in love with the colours, textures and aromas of these cuisines. Our endeavour is to celebrate this romance and help Delhi-NCR’s Asian restaurants get their place in the sun.”

Take an amazing culinary journey from Tokyo to Bali via Sichuan and Yangon without stepping out of Delhi. Welcome to the Asian Hawkers Market!

Asian Hawkers Market Cart

INTRODUCING THE ASIAN HAWKERS MARKET ORGANISERS

Atul Sikand is the founder-moderator of Facebook’s most populous (more than 25,000, and counting!) and busiest Indian recipe-sharing group, Sikandalous Cuisine. He’s also the co-founder of the Delhi Gourmet Club, where he has successfully piloted initiatives such as the Gourmet Passport, Top Chef Awards, Delhicious Week and The Gourmet Studio.

Siddharth ‘Sid’ Mathur gave up the comforts of a private banker’s job in London to pursue his real passion — to power concept-driven standalone restaurants and food courts brands — and he already has three of them on his busy plate: Social and Smoke House Deli in partnership with restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani’s Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality banner, and My Square at Select CITYWALK.

After having worked with culinary greats such as Michael Bannerman, April Bloomfield, Fergus Henderson, Philip Moucheil and Andreas Gober in gourmet city Melbourne, Tanveer Kwatra is the Executive Chef of Le Meridien Gurgaon and a man of cutting-edge ideas, a taste of which we got when he was running La Riviera, which is now shut for a makeover. After driving the super successful launches of Latest Recipe, the hotel’s 24×7 restaurant, and the nightclub, iKandy, Tanveer has taken outdoor banqueting to a different level of novelty that the city hadn’t experienced before.

Op-ed food columnist and restaurant critic of India Today Group’s daily newspaper Mail TodaySourish Bhattacharyya is a freelance writer, editorial consultant and blogger (www.indianrestaurantspy.com). He is also EazyDiner’s Lead Critic for Delhi-NCR, Consulting Editor of BW Hotelier and co-founder of the Delhi Gourmet Club.

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LIST OF PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS AND FOOD BUSINESS OPERATORS

Asia 7; Asian Haus / Sushi Haus; Bercos; Chaayos; Chi Asian Cookhouse; Chi Ni; dimsumbros; En; Fatty Bao; Guppy by ai; Jade; Latest Recipe; Mamagoto; Neung Roi; Pan Asia; Rred Hot Café; Piccolicko; Royal China; SelectED; Social; The Artful Baker; The Pho Kart; Wai Wai; Wow Momos; Yum Yum Cha

[PS: You will probably see me covering this on October 24. Let me know if you are also planning to come taste some good food. ]

Cafe Tafri – Sector 14, Gurgaon

Hello people from this part of the world!

I know I talked about being more regular but it is what it is. No excuses. I just don’t get the time to post or I am way too exhausted when I get the time. Before entering the B-School life, I would never have even imagined that I’ll sleep for only 3-4 hours a day but again, it is what it is. 🙂

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Keeping those things aside, I wanted to let you know guys know about this place that I visited a long time ago near my campus. So, there’s this homely market near my college. It belongs to the sector-14 residential area, so we call it Sector-14 market. The Cafe Tafri is located there.

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My experience here was really, really good. I loved the things that I tried from the menu, although they were only two. However, both were supremely tasty. The pizza was thin crust and while thin crusts can be problematic for some, this crust was very well-done and the toppings were also very satiating. The lasagne was the other thing and that was also super tasty, although heavy. I enjoyed both the pizza and lasagne a lot.

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The prices at Cafe Tafri are also bearable, if not affordable. For one person, it would set you back around 150 – 250 INR.

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The thing that I really need to mention is the ambience. Look at the picture where a scooted (yes, scooter!) is hanging as a show piece. Do you see the floor seating arrangement in that photo? How awesome is that? You sit and hang your legs downwards. It looks so comfortable (although I sat on a regular table there).

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I definitely wish to visit this place again to try out other things on the menu, considering how close it is to campus. I’ll see if I can update this post when I get to try other foods. If you live nearby, definitely check this place out!

That would be it from my side and I hopefully will write the next post sooner! 🙂

Oh, and, don’t forget to tell me your experience if you have been here.

4 fabulous white sauce pasta places in Delhi

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I cannot say whether I am a pasta lover, because it’s definitely not one of my favorite things to eat. However, I like it quite a lot and most times when I am eating out, I can be found gorging on white sauce pasta. I love white sauce over red. I think that’s the case with most people? If you too are one of them, you need to check out these 4 places in Delhi. Hey, pasta lover or not, a blog post about food never hurt anyone. 🙂

Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Rodeo, Connaught Place

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Who orders a white sauce pasta in a Mexican restaurant? We do and we are glad we did. This is one of the best pastas I have ever tried. So, so yummy. I generally think that the Italian fair we all eat (pastas, pizzas, ravioli etc) is less salty for my tastes but this one was perfection. Not completely Indian-ized but not bland either. This is a must try. A word of caution: don’t try if you can’t handle overload of cheese. (I know you want to ;)).

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2. Uber Cafe, GK 2

I have forgotten the pasta’s taste now since I tried it a long time ago 😀 but I clearly remember going crazy. It was very creamy, that’s what I remember. This place has great food otherwise too, I mean apart from the pasta. I am definitely going here again soon!

3. Pizza Hut

Yes, I said it. I know you are thinking that I probably haven’t tried enough places. Well, I haven’t because there’s really a lot to try in Delhi and I don’t go out all that much. Still, I have tried my fair share of things and let me just say that I love Pizza Hut’s creamy mushroom pasta more than a lot of cults. Yes, I do.

4. Cha Bar, Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place

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Okay, I am cheating a bit. I have heard good things about their white sauce pasta but it is never available whenever I am there. Hmph. I specially went one day so that I can eat it and complete this post afterwards (look at the dedication, you guys! ) but no, it wasn’t available. I ate the red sauce pasta instead which I did not like. Why is this place in the post then? 3 reasons: 1) The title ‘4 fabulous’ sounds better than ‘3 fabulous’, 2) I have a picture of the red sauce pasta that I ate, so I can use it in this post, 3) I am hopeful that the white sauce pasta will be good.

Lastly, I want to mention that if it crossed your mind why I haven’t mentioned Big Chill in this post, then that’s because I love Big Chill but their pastas are not salty enough for my taste, so its pasta comes after these 4 in my list. 🙂

Happy eating!

More importantly, happy exploring! 🙂

QD’s, North Campus, Delhi University | Tandoori Momos & all that jazz

You know those places in a city which are known for a special something? If you live in Delhi, you know about QD’s, thanks to the frenzy around ‘Tandoori Momos’ since the past few years.

I am a complete momos person (I need to mend my unhealthy ways but that story is for another day). Momos roasted in a tandoor? Let the fun begin!

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I had visited this place around 4 years back and fallen head over heels in love with the tandoori momos. This place is very far from where I live, work or have studied. So, I went there again today after 4 years but did not enjoy the momos as much. I am not sure what has changed (apart from the stark increase in food coloring). Or maybe something has changed about my taste only. 😛 They are definitely worth a try anyway.

I love the fact that this place has a hell lot of things on the menu and a separate menu for desserts & innovative drinks. The peanut butter and nutella shake is calling out to me for the next visit! ❤ The food is mostly Indo-Chinese which is, frankly, available on every nook and corner of India now (not counting the hygiene factor because I usually eat irrespective of that concern :P, talk about unhealthy ways! ) but the fact that there is so much variety under one single roof is an important one. Their Zomato menu shows North Indian food as well but I am not sure if Zomato’s menu is an old one or I missed it.

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We tried the mixed veg in Schezwan sauce with noodles and I liked it a lot. Note that I am not even a big fan of chowmein but I liked these ones quite a lot. They were kind of crunchy, like pan-fried ones and not super soft like most noodles are. The mixed veg in Schezwan sauce was beyond lovely. I mean, it isn’t like you are missing out on anything if you don’t try it, but the experience of having it was really good. It was mild, comforting but spicy, all at the same time. I should also mention here that the helping of veggies in the sauce was really good for the price, I have tried this dish at few fine dining restaurants and the helping was comparable, if not more. Lots of mushrooms, broccoli (for those who like it) and the usual gang.

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We also tried their fruit beer and this innovative drink called ‘Black Manga’. Fruit beer was sweeter than other places and I liked it. My best friend liked the other drink, it’s fun to try their various experimental drinks!

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We ended it with this huge, huge glass of ice-cream, it doesn’t look huge enough in the picture. It was an assortment of vanilla, strawberry, jelly and fruits. It was a regular ice-cream, if you have tasted Giani’s fruit salad(or Sundae?) one, this is the same. I am not a big dessert person, so I don’t have much to say anyway.

In my opinion, this place should definitely feature on your must visit list, even if you can get similar food elsewhere and here’s why:

What I liked:

  1. It is very affordable! Considering how Delhi’s food scene is getting exorbitantly expensive, this would fall on the cheaper side although they have almost doubled the prices since my last visit 4 years ago.
  2. They have a huge variety of Indo-Chinese food and innovative smoothies and drinks.
  3. The service is super fast.

What I didn’t like:

  1. Tandoori Momos, their claim to name and fame, did not feel just as good as they were 4 years ago, not sure if it has got something to do with me or them!

We visited this place because my best friend is trying to stay away from ‘outside’ food since past two weeks, so he thought he deserved this. 😛 He was extremely satisfied and happy with the visit. 🙂

So, when are you going?