Finding Soul Food In The Heart Of Delhi
Chole bhature for a hungry soul. Photo: Dreamstime
A trip to Delhi during winter makes for a happy experience. It is the perfect time to see the city, soak in the sun at its beautiful gardens, and gorge on some of the most delicious food that the capital has to offer. For me, the latter has always been the highlight of my travels. Come on, how can you leave a city without eating the food it is famous for?
So when a last-minute trip to Delhi beckoned, we were thrilled. We asked friends where to eat, and what to do in 48 hours. Oh, I did browse through the ‘10 places to eat butter chicken in Delhi’ posts too. All this after having lived in the city during my graduation years in the early 2000s!
A stay at Connaught Place fortunately meant access to the newest restaurants and pubs in the vicinity. Unfortunately, it also meant full house everywhere if it was a weekend. And we were right. When we stepped out late in the evening, it had youngsters and married couples with kids in tow haggling with security guards outside establishments to get entry. So when the folks at Farzi Café apologised for being booked owing to a private event, it did not come as a surprise.
The best thing about metros like Delhi and Mumbai is that you can never go hungry. If you cannot find a table at a restaurant of your choice, you can always go to another one without thinking too much. At Connaught Place you are spoiled for choice. Our next preference was United Coffee House, a 1942 institution of sorts, which I was told was famous for its kheema samosa and tomato fish. Getting a table seemed doubtful, as the staff told us, “Sir bahut waiting hain”! And it was only 8 in the evening.
Expecting a packed house everywhere, we walked into a book shop to kill time thinking how Mumbai does not have too many of them. A quick Zomato check showed up restaurants that have outlets back home in Mumbai like Monkey Bar and Odeon Social. Contemplating whether to give them a shot, we stepped out of the book shop hoping to get a table.
That brings us to the question - what do you do when you are in the capital city on a Saturday night, that too at a buzzing locality and cannot find a table? The most normal thing would be to check out restaurant recommendations on review sites, go by the ratings or read up food blogs or even call up a local friend and ask where to party. I say there’s nothing wrong with that. Most of us don’t believe in making table reservations on a holiday, reason being plans are flexible. But you have to eat something and it has to be decent. And let’s not talk about people who will tell you that a certain restaurant (that the city is famous for) you are dying to eat at is overrated. So what if I want to visit these restaurants?
After checking out almost every high-end restaurant at Connaught Place, we headed to Haldiram’s that evening. Given the place was noisy, there was a queue to place orders and had no clean loos or tables to spare. When our food arrived (flat 8-10 minutes), the girl next to me pointed out to my dahi bhalla and exclaimed, "Don't you think the yoghurt is exceptionally good in Delhi?" I asked, "Where are you from?" She replied, "Mumbai!" You can imagine what followed.
Back home we got thinking about our foodie adventures in the capital. Of all the meals we ate in those two days, the most memorable one has to be the chole bhature and chaat we had at this modest eatery. Memories of a certain lunch at Nizamuddin and coffee at a swish cafe in Khan Market distanced away.
As our Editor-At-Large, Kalyan Karmakar puts it – “No matter where you eat, there will always be a ‘better place’ according to someone else so don't stress about it.”
I don't honestly.