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Dec 28, 2009 03:45 AM

Need help finding interesting little restaurants in India

I am 58 years old and travel most of the year. I spent the past eight months in India (with a few months in Nepal). During that eight months I spent most of the time in India in Delhi, Sikkim, and Darjeeling, although I did briefly check out the Taj Mahal, Varanasi, and a few other other tourist places. In Nepal I spent time in Katmandu and 44 days trekking from Jiri to the Everest Base Camp and back.

I got sick a few times but had a really great trip. I am going to spend the next year traveling in that part of the world again, although I want to check out some new areas, including the south of India, and hope to spend the summer in the far northwest of India (Ladakh, Manali, possibly Kashmir, etc). It will be a relief to enjoy some clear weather after spending the last monsoon season in Sikkim and Darjeeling. I also want to check out Sri Lanka now that it is apparently safe to go.

While other travelers go to temples and Ashrams, or spend time visiting tourist sites, I am always looking for good food and restaurants. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out where to go but was frustrated in India. I don't really want to spend much time eating in hotel restaurants or tourist popular places.

Part of the problem had to do with the "personality" of Indian people who, it seemed to me, will try and answer every question even though they might not know a lot about what it is they are talking about. Although I have to admit that I did find some good restaurants based on recommendations in the Lonely Planet (Karim's, in Old Delhi, for example), the travel guides do not do a very good job for people who are really serious about finding memorable restaurants or interesting food in a particular area.

I do look at the postings on the South Asia Chowhound board but I wish I could get a lot more good leads than what appears in those postings.

If anyone has a suggestion, such as an interesting book about food in India, or a blog about food and restaurants in India, I would sincerely appreciate any help.

Thank you,

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  1. its harder than you expect getting this info.
    For Delhi, look for articles by Rahul Verma - he writes sometimes in the Hindu, which also has food articles in its regional editions (sometimes too upscale and puffy). I see he has a blog now too
    Also Charmaine O-Brien's book about the food and history of Delhi has many solid reccs - its well worth seeking out,
    Some reviews here, variable in quantity/quality
    IndiaMike is a great travel site but food is less of a focus than it ought to be.
    Anothersubcontinent is much superior on food and culture
    I thought the Footprint guide had pretty good info tho its heavy - i wound up xeroxing pages from many sources which i dumped as i went along.

    because of hindu religious rules there is less of a restaurant culture than you might expect - I think its good to find b&b and homestay type places or small hotels with good home cooking - then persuade them you want your food indian style or it will be bland.
    We thought the food in Ahmedabad/gujarat was great.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      Thanks for the reply and suggestions. Rahul Verma's Blog looks good. I will get Charmaine O'Brien's book too. Thanks again.

      1. re: jen kalb

        I agree with Jen. In general, I find most of the guide book restaurant recs to be not-so-good. But I also think the best food in india is cooked in homes--so try to make some Indian friends who will invite you back for dinner, or do homestays.
        The sites above are good. also read local papers and follow the crowds--If some place seems to be particular popular with Indians (mainly lower-end places i'm talking about) then there's probably a reason.

      2. Well, I just turned 60, lived and worked over 16 years in south (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan) and SE Asia (all). We worked in remote rural, agricultural areas. As much as possible I tried to eat in the markets, streets, and small no-name places. You've no doubt done a lot of that. At times I had colleagues who wanted more upscale or the types of places that appear in guide books. Just looking for the more rustic places, I think, led to the best food and experiences.

        1. Hey Paul,
          so did you find any memorable places to eat at in India? I'm planning a trip and would love to follow your footsteps in south India.