Manisha, and A and N were here last week and what a food-packed week it ended up being! I put work aside and for a whole week we just ate, talked with our mouths full, ate some more, drank a little, and walked a lot. I focused on Kashmiri food at home and we ate out some, crossing off some of the better known Delhi-delights.
Manisha arrived on the last Saturday of November and A and N were here by noon the following day. They barely got enough time to wheel their bags into the bedroom before we were off on our first foodie trip. Reeta (Delhi Foodie’s Zone) had graciously agreed to be our guide through the labyrinth of Old Delhi’s streets! We walked through the melee that is Chor Bazaar, near Jama Masjid, to enter at the far end of Dariba and ate our way through many streets savouring – brace yourself – bedmi-poori and aloo bhaji, khasta kachori, flavoured milk (infused with saffron, rose, kevda, and almonds), banta-lime-soda (marble soda bottles), daulat ki chat, paranthe (at paranthe-wali gali, where else; yes they are overrated but you have to try them once – A‘s motto for everything remotely edible), aloo tikki and dahi badey at Natraj’s, motichoor laddoo, shakkarkandi (sweetpotato) ki chat, and kulfi-falooda.
We went wherever Reeta took us, and she unearthed some real gems for us! It was a good thing that we were a group of six; made it easier to sample that much more food! We bought til patti (sesame brittle, like no other) and revdi (sesame drops?) from a shop in Kinari Bazaar. [Thanks for the recommendation, Reeta; that til patti is gooood!] In between we also took pictures of food we were just going to have to keep for the next visit.
We took a detour into Ballimaran’s gali Qasim Jaan to visit the partially-restored house of one of the greatest poet of our times, and my favourite, Mirza Ghalib.
We returned exhausted and stuffed to the gills. All we were good for afterwards were V’s concoctions; he’s gotten really good at mixology.
The following day, I stepped out for a little work in the morning leaving the kitchen in the capable hands of A. What a fabulous Southie spread he laid out with prep-help from N and Manisha! There was rasam, vathakuzhambu with pumpkin (and my sun-dried sundakkai!), beans parupu usili, keerai masiyal, and carrot kosambari. Yes, very impressive and very delicious. The pictures say it all.
We spent an evening at Dilli Haat. But before the mandatory shopping, we sat down at the Navdanya stall for a round of their fabulous masala tea lightly sweetened with natural sugar. After my friends, had had their fill of shopping for handlooms and handicrafts, I took them across then road to another shopping haunt, the INA market. A and N were impressed at the vegetables on display and envious that we have forever had this cheaper alternative to Godrej’s Nature Basket! What I thought was expensive is actually cheap! A bought galangal, and I bought some haak. We really went to town at the Durga Store, buying (almost) every Kashmiri ingredient they stock – spices, dried Kashmiri chillies, veri masala, and al-hacchi and wangun-hacchi (sun-dried bottle-gourd and aubergines). Santa is sure to bring some exotic foodie cheer to many foodie friends this Christmas!
The shopping was followed by dinner at The Yeti, HKV. We tasted their Tibetan and Nepali platters with buffalo offal and sausages amongst other things, the most interesting of which was tingmo, the knot-shaped Tibetan steamed bread. Aloo momos lived up to Reeta’s recommendation but the chicken Jadoh with Dohkhleh we tried for the main was very disappointing. The music is loud and the service really slow despite the fact that this is a tiny restaurant. Go there for the non-veg platter, the potato momos, tingmo, and the clear soups, those are the best.
We met up with Deeba one afternoon at good old India Coffee House in CP. The Passionate Baker brought some of her fabulous chocolate biscotti (which was gone before I could take pictures!).
Manisha missed out on my Dad’s birthday party though; there was a change in her plans and she left sooner than planned. For the lunch at my parents’, there was the standard Kashmiri menu of roganjosh, paneer kaliya, monjji-haak, dum-olu, palak-mutter, rajma, and mujj-chetin, followed only a little later with a round of tea and an assortment of Kashmiri breads - kulchavor, tilvor, and katlum. There was cake too!
One of the best meal, we all agreed, was at the relatively new, open-air cafe attached to the National Crafts Museum at Pragati Maidan, Cafe Lota. Don’t let the name discourage you in the least. I found out about this cafe just last month when a friend posted some pictures of his lunch, out with family. I checked the Facebook page for Cafe Lota and found the menu and the pictures very interesting – regional Indian food with a fresh, modern presentation, and immediately decided that this might be just the place to check out with foodie friends. I will tell you more about this fantastic cafe in the next post.
Did you notice I didn’t do much cooking this whole time? They should have stayed another day; I could have used help with the Champa Shashthi feast!