2011 India Eats! (reviews)
I just returned from a wonderrrrrrrful trip to India where I ate so much delicious food! I won't bother mentioning meals I felt were so-so, but only the memorable bites (either amazing or not good)!
Trishna. A must go if you love fish! The rawas masala fish was probably the best fish I've ever eaten in my entire life. Beautifully marinated and grilled. The prawns koliwada were also out of this world! Tiny prawns marinated, battered, and deep fried. SO delicious! I tried some other dishes that were typical Hyderabadi, but sadly I didn't enjoy them very much. Stick with those two and you cannot go wrong!
Chic n' Fish in North Goa on Calangute beach. It's a small restaurant along the main road that looks like nothing. We decided to sit there and have lunch because that's where all the locals were eating. Boy was that the right decision! Everything we ate was spot on! One of the highlights of my meals in India. This place appears touristy, but the flavors were absolutely not. Full of flavor and spice.
Haldirams for snacks and sweets. I really loved some of their ladoos, barfis, and the like. Especially the carrot halwa with a creamy topping. It tasted almost like an Indian carrot cake. :)
Saravana Bhavan for the best paper masala dosa and vada sambar I could imagine.
Karim's- well talked about here on chowhound. The mutton in almond sauce was tasty, yet VERY greasy. I much preferred the marinated and grilled mutton.
The famous jalebi wala in Chandni Chowk. There was a huge crowd surrounding this stall waiting for the delicious pastries to be out of the fryer and dunked in the sugary syrup! What a treat! I had one fresh and piping hot. Do try this.
The paratha wali is also famous and just a short walk from the jalebi wala, but I don't understand why. I thought they were the worst parathas I've ever eaten and the accompanying dishes were also terrible.
the food stalls at the Dilli Haat Bazaar were excellent. I tried some of the dishes at the Rajasthani booth and liked them all. Their chai that came in tiny earthenware bowls was especially delicious.
The Brother's Dhaba was excellent. I ordered the palak paneer, makki ki rotti, naan, and other great things here. A must try if you are in this area of India.
This is all a bit delayed but i thought i would append my trip report from the beginning of 2011 with some of my own observations (some of which confirm junglekitte's experiences). We hit Delhi, Pune and Bombay on this trip.
we mostly ate at home and it really made me sad that living in NY makes having a home cook impractically expensive.
Sagar's dahi vada are without a doubt the best version of the dish i consider my favorite south indian snack, the rest of the menu is good to ok, we have much better experiences at the original location in Defense Colony than the other more recent branches. their sambar and tomato chutneys are also my favorite of the delhi area south indian options, and the family dosa is a great spectacle if you're with a group but isnt the most cost effective way to go.
Saravana Bhavan in janpath produced the best onion rava masala dosa we had all trip with big pieces of onion, whole peppercorns, and chili in the super flavorful, perfectly sour and not excessively greasy pancake. have been meaning to check out the lexington ave location in nyc since we got home because this was so good.
Paratha Walli Gali - thought this was pretty good though i dont think i prefer my parathas cooked in the style of the guys in the alley (they deep fry the sh*t out of them in some seriously questionable oil). We felt like we were living on the edge eating out of the open kitchens, and while we avoided the cold chutney for fear that it was made with questionable water and not heated sufficiently during cooking. The real discovery on this expedition was the papard paratha, which combined crunched up deep fried papard mixed with potato before being stuffed in the paratha, totally awesome from a texture and flavor perspective.
Khan cha cha kati roll stand in Khan Market - what can i say, if we had access to these in nyc id weigh at least 20 lbs more. Several visits later im pretty sure everything on the menu is great (didnt love the hariyali veg kebab roll, but the tandori aloo - not in a roll but just served on a plate w raw onions and their green sauce were totally killer, the chaat masala they sprinkle on at the end is awesome)
Evergreen in green park - this snack shop has basically the same menu as haldiram's and bikanerwalla without the corporate, generic feel. really liked the channa batura here (much better than haldiram's but not up to my gold standard which is Kwality restaurant in Connought Place) but the real standout was the samosa chaat - we had to order another round to avoid fighting over the last bite of our first one.
Great Kabab Factory in saket - while the all you can eat format was interesting nothing was outstanding, it was too much food and really pricey for what it was.
Bikanerwala - like haldiram's but maybe half a step down, clean, accessible street food but nothing special.
Dilli Haat - great gift shopping, we went with one of the northern places and got a gigantic plate of chili paneer, noodles and an order of momos, all of which were servicable enough but not destination worthy.
in its own category id put the Culture Galli at Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon. We didnt go into any of the more expensive sit down places but the snacks we bought from the fast-food style shops along the main corridor were marked up (obviously) but very good. particularly enjoyed the sabudhana vada and some good chaat, this is a touristy, weird and kind of tacky experience but since they make you buy credits to get in its good to know that you're not throwing that money away if you choose to spend them on the food inside.
again, as we were staying with family we didnt eat out a ton, but managed to have one good and one truly excellent meal in a short stay.
the good: vaishali was a solid south indian meal if a bit greasier than some - crazy crowds and lots of nostalgia are the order of the day here (there was an interesting mix of the local student population and multi-generational families who i'd guess have been coming since the older generations were students nearby)
the great: Krishna dining hall - the thali style maharashtrian food here was just superb, and its an incredible deal (we were treated but i think we paid some absurdly low price to gorge ourselves on a variety of curries, vegetables, rices and daals). The marashtrian tendency to add a touch of sugar to many recipes really came through, and even though im not generally a big sweet fan it balances the equally strong tendency to punch up the chili heat in the south also. I can't recall many of the dishes we tried here, but as the menu changes daily it wouldnt matter much. if you are in pune, go here (there is a restaurant downstairs which i think shares the name but is a la carte w a menu, you want the upstairs one, without menus).
what a great eating town, we were in south bombay for most of our stay and enjoyed some really terrific food.
Trishna: well covered ground but the crab in butter garlic pepper was outstanding and a steal at 20 bucks (the US $65 dollars we spent here represents, by far, the most we spend on a meal on our trip but it was totally worht it for the splurge). the scene is part LA (movie industry discussions at adjacent tables all during our dinner) and a little toursity but the seafood was great - we got fish manchurian and tandoori fish as well, definitely worth not overhyped.
Mahesh Lunch Home - maybe better than Trishna for the non-crab dishes. fish masala fry with appams, and tandoori rawas were great - we also got the veg pulau which came with an incredible curry sauce along side with coconut milk and an intense slow-building heat. the bombay store down the street was great shopping along side.
Zaffron near crawford market - we ordered late night delivery kati rolls which were quite different from khan cha chas in that they were wetter and represented a much wider array of options (they offer as many as 20 different kinds of rolls) the chicken manchurian roll was super spicy and completely delicious. Separately we ended up eating in one night and got a dish of their tandoori chicken smothered in a bright orange gravy with a side of garlic naan, super heavy norther food but really well executed (the chicken was moist and tender and the gravy was intensely flavorful and awesome).
Britannia in ballard estate - this was a real gem, lunch only parsi food with a limited menu and incredible story. The proprietor has been working in the family business for almost his whole life - since his father and he moved to bombay when he was just a boy (hes now in his 80s and still works the lunch shift 5 days a week). his schtick was great and matched in every way by the mutton berry pulau with specially imported iranian beyberries (something like dried pomegranate seeds with a nice contrasting tartness to offset the pulaus carmelized onions and meaty richness). The steamed fish and parsi parathas were a great accompaniment but the real star is definitely the rice here (he - the waiter/proprietor - also insisted we order their lime sodas which were supremely refreshing on a warm bombay afternoon).
I'm sure ive missed some things - i was sad we didnt get back to the jalebi wala or Kwality in CP, Delhi on this trip, and i am a little salty that ive never made it to Karim's, but im looking forward to making it back and getting there eventually.
re: jen kalb
were you as enchanted by the Janpath location as I was? to be fair i thought the idli (not my favorite south indian dish anyway - was okay, the sambar wasn't as good as the defense colony sagar) and i didnt like having to choose between sweet or salty preparations of the dahi vada - the sagar rendition is my gold standard, nicely balancing sweet and salty at the same time.