Recent Dining in India (continued)
Jen had suggested I report on a few more restaurants from our recent trip to India, so this is an extension of my post of a couple of weeks ago. By the way, am I the only one who has tried Brown Sahib (the restaurant we loved so much) in Delhi? It's very new, but I thought some other reader must have been there by now.
In New Delhi, we ate twice at the Nizamuddin branch of Karim's. It's at 168/2 Jha House, Hazrat Nizamuddin West. The phone is 2435-0018. The neighborhood is fascinating and certainly induced huge culture shock in us on our first night in New Delhi. The main shock was how astoundingly crowded the narrow streets were: apparently there was a religious festival the first night we went to the restaurant, and the taxi driver had to drop us off several blocks away. The crowd on the street was immense and there were plenty of people asking for money in a fairly determined way. We never felt threatened, and we always felt at ease, but being tapped on the shoulder every step of the way takes a bit of getting used to. Plenty of street food available too, but we headed for the restaurant instead.
On the first visit, we ate nihari, a weekend special made of mutton and marrow, and a very good chicken biryani, with splendid firni (rice pudding) for dessert. Most of the diners were men, by the way, but with the friendliness of the staff and the pleasure of the air conditioning (it was about 115 degrees outside), we felt very comfortable.
We returned a few days later for lunch with a guide who had taken us around Delhi and ate roast lamb and tandoori chicken and more of that excellent rice pudding. The restaurant was not very crowded either time. Dinner, by the way, cost about $20 for the two of us and the same menu appeared for lunch. Plenty of things to choose from, that's for sure.
Also in New Delhi, we ate in Chor Bizarre (Hotel Broadway, 4/14A Asaf Ali Road (near Delhi Center) Phone 2327-3821). There have been several posts about this restaurant, and we quite liked it. The neighborhood was spookily deserted and the hotel apparently has seen better days, but we were warmly greeted and quickly ushered into the atmospheric and thinly populated dining room. Atmospheric because, I believe, the proprietors collect antique items from older times in Delhi and, in some ways, the room is almost museum like. Among other things, an old car serves as the salad bar. You get the idea.
I was afraid Chor Bizarre would be too touristy but, after all, we were tourists and, in any event, the other diners appeared to us to be locals.
We ate fried spinach leaves with yogurt and mango, and minced chicken meatballs in Kashmiri cream sauce and a vegetarian thali which included paneer in tomato, dum aloo (spiced potato), spinach, fried lotus stem, eggplant, cauliflower and rice. Firni (again) for dessert -- you can't go wrong eating rice pudding in India. This feast (including several Kingfisher beers) was about $30. A very pleasant evening to say the least.
And finally, in Mumbai, we had dinner in the famous Trishna restaurant, a haunt, apparently, of the rich and famous. My hero, the late R.W. Apple, listed Trishna as one of his 10 favorite restaurants in the world. Actually, we hit another of his 10 favorite restaurants in the world on this trip -- Chun's restaurant in Shanghai -- but I'll report on that on the China board..
Trishna (7 Rope Walk Lane, Sai Baba Marg. Phone: 2270-3213) is one of Mumbai's most famous seafood restaurants so, not surprisingly, we ate seafood, lots of seafood: king crab (out of the shell) sauteed in butter, 2 enormous tiger prawns barbecued with a mint marinade, a pomfret Hyderabad style with a peppery coating (a large, rather mushy fish, I'm afraid), Kingfisher Ultra beer (first we had seen that) and kulfi (excellent ice cream for dessert). Not cheap to dine where the movie stars dine -- at about $90, as close to New York prices as we got the whole trip. But a lovely way to spend an evening.
I could write more, but we mostly drove between cities, so we ate at lots of highway rest stops which were perfectly fine, but sort of blended into one another (as did the gift shops featured by all of them). And, in light of how hard it seems to be to run a restaurant, it's not my style to talk about places we found less than swell. All in all, our two weeks in India were quite thrilling in every way -- the people, the sights, the cities and the food. I can't wait to return.
re: jen kalb
Thanks again for your kind words, Jen. We were only in Aurangabad for about 24 hours, and one of our meals was at an unmemorable tourist road stop near the Ellora Caves (although the Caves, I might add, are totally memorable). But the one recommendation we had was to eat "the grill"at the Taj Residency Hotel where we were staying. As it turned out, there weren't enough guests in late May for them to light the grill, but we dined nevertheless under the stars on mixed kababs and muttar biryani and dal and a lovely cold bottle of Sula Chenin Blanc. We figured if we liked Indian beer we would like Indian wine, and we were right. I'm sorry we missed the grill, but the meal was delightful.