Cuisine: North Indian
Blurb: The cuisine of the whole of North India given a Punjabi tadka
Intro: A regular Punjabi restaurant with a vast banquet hall and a 3rd floor drive through for cars, all in Pacific Mall, near Rajouri Garden.
Atmospherics: If you are going for grand interiors, you had better look elsewhere, for Delhi Diner has little in the way of style. The large restaurant that overlooks the food court is a rather unmemorable space. Expect to be seated instantly when there’s nothing great showing at the multiplex or when it’s a weekday. Service is a little in-your-face, but it is a good old family-style restaurant in the traditional mould.
Table talk: The specialities of this restaurant are the Punjabi dishes. The best kebab in the vegetarian section is the melt-in-the-mouth dahi ke kebab (Rs 295) that is quite dramatically different from the usual version filled with so much flour so that it holds its shape after being fried. The Delhi Diner version has not a trace of flour and so oozes its filling gently. But the tang of cheese and the finely minced coriander make it an unmissable treat. There are also some Lucknavi kebabs such as galawati (Rs 395) and Kakori (Rs 395) which sadly are a mere hint of the real thing: neither kebab is particularly meaty and the trademark spices are notable by their absence. The paneer tikka ajwaini (Rs 345) is a robust picatta marinated with assertive spices mixed with a trace of mustard oil, so that when it goes into the tandoor, the scent of the oil is as much a part of the paneer as the spices are. It is a novel attempt and well worth a try.
Gulbahar Gatta (Rs 295) turned out to be even more unusual. The gattas were <I>kalmi<I> shaped and were first deep-fried in a sort of batter before being sautéed in a thick onion-tomato gravy with juliennes of bell peppers. Little to do with its Rajasthani counterpart and more to do with Punjabi tadka. Dal Pachrangi (Rs 295) didn’t try to cross boundaries fortunately, and so was thick and tempered with home-style onion and cumin. The surprise dish of the day was undoubtedly butter chicken (Rs 395/545 half/full) that was rich and mellow with cream and tangy with seasoned tomatoes.
Plus and minus: Stay away from non-Punjab dishes and you’ll have the time of your life.
Must try: Mutton saag wala, gosht pardah biryani, subz ka mela
3rd floor, Pacific Mall, Tagore Garden
Open from 12 noon to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Rs 1,200