A Theory of Butter Chicken

Last Sunday, a friend and I were having an animated discussion about where in Delhi one goes for the best butter chicken. Rahul said Mini Mughal; I said Swagath. Many other suggestions came up and were shot down. Both of us thought that Moti Mahal had no consistency between branches; that dhabas got the dish…

Viva Goa

The next time you’re in Goa, if you want to stir up hornet’s nest, try asking a group of house wives for the exact recipe of Goan fish curry. have a riot on your hands in no time at all. The exact details of the recipe may elude you — whether the Gherkin-like bimblim, tamarind,…

The Mystery Spice, Kalpasi

The first time I heard about the mystery spice must have been around 1998. I had just started writing about food, when a youthful chef from Taj Coromandel, Chennai, came visiting Delhi for a Chettinad food festival. He showed me the spices necessary to make the iconic Chettinad chicken, and there it was, nestled amidst…

Not by Bread Alone

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? And no, I’m not asking this with reference to the bird flu scare. It’s the first question I asked Chef Arun Tyagi, Corporate Chef of the MBD group of hotels when I visited a festival of breads that featured 100 different varieties. On the other hand,…

Tamil Nadu’s Hidden Cuisines

There’s a certain point on the map of India, north of which ‘South Indian food’ tends to be a one-size-fits-all panoply of dosas and sambhars with minor, if any, variations to distinguish them. In fact, all four southern states have an abundance of cuisines. Geographical location – coastal or interior – and community both play…

Zaffran

Zaffran is one of the few Indian restaurants in Connaught Place that does not date back to the 1950s. Consequently, the relatively minimalistic décor has more to do with the revamped Hotel Palace Heights of which it is a part, than the likes of Embassy Restaurant two doors away. Fortunately, the owners have decided not…

Spices from Jammu & Kashmir

Think Kashmiri spices and you will automatically be reminded of saffron, that most expensive spice that grows nowhere else in India except the Valley. However, on my annual pilgrimage – or would it be more (politically) correct to call it Hajj? – I came across facts that I had never suspected before For instance, in…

Smokey’s

Barbecue Grills What used to be Smokehouse Grill is now Smokeys Delhi was crying out for a New York style barbecue place. At last, we’ve been given Smokeys You know those dark, all wood, masculine interiors that you see in the movies? Well, they’ve been recreated here in GK 2 now. Retro music, a superbly…

Purani Dilli

It is not as well-known outside the immediate locality as, say, Karim’s is, but Purani Dilli is headed for its place in the sun. No artificial flavourings (like kewra or screw pine), no lashings of pure ghee. Just no-fuss surroundings in the heart of South Delhi, good biryani and down to earth prices. You’ll have…

Hauz Khas Village in the 1990s

Delhi’s foodies are keeping their fingers — and palates — crossed that the trickle turns into a flood before long.Restaurants are opening at the rate of one a week. Most of these are of the stand-alone sort. Of these, Food Heritage in Hauz Khas Village is the brainchild of three young people. Sheemita Saxena’s first love may be sculpting,…