Banana kofta curry, soya nuggets in gravy and black eyed peas (lobhia) in garlic-ginger paste; dining out has only recently turned adventurous for vegetarians in Delhi. While their meat-eating counterparts joyfully went about ordering mutton and chicken at restaurants until now, our humble herbivores settled for safe bets like seasonal tandoori veggies and the evergreen paneer makhani.
But that’s a thing of the past. Delhi is now a veggie’s delight and with the pious festival of Navratras approaching, foodies might as well steer clear of chicken for some time to come. From specialised south Indian vegetarian cuisine, Gujarati and Rajasthani thalis, and Marwari caterers to eggless bakers in Delhi, the city’s gastronomic map has definitely become vegetarian-friendly. So hit the veggie trail with us, as we serve shudh bhojan to you…
OH! THALI HO
For most Delhiites, the search for authentic food from Indian states ends at Dilli Haat. Invariably, the biggest crowds are at the Rajasthani stall. And not without reason! The ker sangri, gatte ki subzi, mirchi vadas and the holy trinity of dal, baati, choorma are the perennial favourites. But the next time you go to the Haat, visit the Maharashtra stall as well. The zunkabhakar (roti and curry with curd and a peanut-and-eggplant dish), thapada (rice flour rotis served with a subzi), Mumbai style pao bhaji and kokum sherbet are worth a try. Else, head to the regional eateries spread across the city which give you great value for your bucks. We’re talking about Suruchi (Karol Bagh) and Rajdhani (all outlets) that serve mind-blowing Gujarati and Rajasthani fare. From steamed / fried farsan (snacks), undhiyo, dal dhokali, safed kadhi to rotla and chutneys - the assortment of appetisers, main course curries and desserts is a must-try.
DESI MEALS, DIFFERENT DEAL!
If regional feasts never fail to impress us, then how can the drool worthy Delhi dal, seasonal subzi and contemporary Indian cuisine dare to let us down! Heard of the butter-chicken hub, Pandara Road? Ditch the kukkad and book a table at Veg Gulati instead. Interestingly, you can sip on tomato dhaniya shorba, tuck into tandoori gobhi and bhutta kebab and pack in on pudina paneer at the restaurant. For a pious meal, hop over to Govinda’s (ISCKON Temple, East of Kailash) for a lavish spread which comprises refreshing salads, starters and curries. Also, if it’s your lucky day, you get to taste amrud ki sabzi that is to die for.
Another option is Bhaja Govindam near Daryaganj known for its high levels of hygiene. Though the menu is fairly simple, with dosas and a lot of Indian curries and breads, you can be assured of eating a grand meal without burning a hole in your pocket. But if you crave something different (read a fusion of sorts), then Saatvik (Select Citywalk Mall, Saket) should be your vegetarian oasis. Why? Because they’ve been able to create a culinary matrimony of Indian ingredients with foreign spices and regional flavours with dishes like bhindi piri-piri, kasundi aloo, kathal aur mirch ka salan apart from appetisers like avocado-aloo chaat tarts.
SOUTH IN YOUR MOUTH
Now this all-time favourite - read alternate - vegetarian cuisine of Delhiites has gone places and how. South Indian fare has been given a delicious makeover in the last two years with restaurants like Kaustubh (Southern Park, Saket) serving authentic vegetarian food from four South Indian states and Malgudi (Rajouri Garden) joining its league. Savour the vast repertoire of Southern starters and curries. From 27 varieties of idlis and vadais like urad dal-spinach based keerai vadai and curries like kathrikai kara kari (eggplant-tamarind) to special oats uttapam andragi masala dosa - you can spend two days just browsing through the menu and sampling the food. But of course, if you don’t want to experiment, stick to Sagar for the best onion-rava masala dosa in town and Naivedyam for idlis, simmering hot rasam and other superb stuff from that part of India.
• Try out the Shree Delhi Gujarati Samaj canteen (Civil Lines) for a wholesome Gujarati thali for Rs 50
• Visit Farsaan (MGF Metropolitan Mall, Gurgaon) for chundo, a Gujarati mango pickle
• At the Maharashtra stall in Dilli Haat, don’t forget to pick up the chidwa namkeen if it’s not out of stock
Nosh up some unique nutritional snacks like soya tandoori tikka, soya burrah kebab, rogan soya chaap with roomali roti and soya biryani.
• Where: Shudh, Karol Bagh