As a lifestyle blogger, I am often asked to name the best place to eat in my city. With Delhi being a foodie’s paradise, it is almost impossible to pick one place from the plethora of viable options! However, for the #MyFriendAlexa challenge, I’m attempting the mammoth task of streamlining my top picks. Divided according to cuisines, my list consists of places that I have visited time and time again, and which I can wholeheartedly recommend. This is a list of restaurants that serve, what I consider, my comfort foods!
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Comfort Food” as “food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically having a high sugar or carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.”
I must begin with the disclaimer that my ultimate comfort food is my mom’s cooking. Nothing can beat her delicious rajma chawal, saag meat, khao suey, homemade pinnis and a host of other delectable items. My father’s to-die-for Yakhni pulao is another fail-safe comfort food. However, since I can’t share those with most of my readers, I will give you my pick of restaurants instead. These meals have a high calorie content, but if you’re looking for healthy eating options, you can check out my reviews of salad delivery services.
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As a college student on a strict budget, I developed a strong love for Bhel Puri. Made from puffed rice, onions and other herbs and covered in a delicious tangy tamarind sauce, this quick snack is a filling and tasty treat.
I have tried many roadside joints specialising in Bhel Puri, but my all-time favourite is sold opposite my college- St. Stephen’s in Delhi University. I loved the ratio of peanuts to puffed rice in this one. The Defence Colony Market Bhel Walla comes a close second, as he specialises in making the snack spicy.
Papri Chaat is a typically North Indian fast food prepared with crisp fried dough wafers called Papris, and boiled chick peas, boiled potatoes, yoghurt and tamarind chutney, topped with chaat masala and sev (small fried pieces of crunchy noodles made with chickpea flour paste). Papri Chaat is my ultimate weakness. Against my doctor’s advice, I ate it once when I was 6 months pregnant and had to be hospitalised!! That may sound scary but it’s a true testament of my love for this Indian street food.
It is difficult for me to pick one favourite chaat place but I think the Shree Balajai Chaat Bhandar in Chandni Chowk wins by a hair over its competitors. M. I. Food Center in Meharchand market is excellent too- don’t miss the Aloo Chaat here when you’re gorging on Papri. Nathu’s chain of restaurants also serve good Papri Chaat as well as excellent gol gappas (pani puri).
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SOUTH INDIAN CUISINE:
Sagar Ratna is the undisputed king of vegetarian South Indian cuisine in Delhi. No other chain of restaurants boasts a long line for entry, every single day, since it opened decades ago! The fluffy idlis (savoury rice cakes), crisp and voluminous dosas (fermented rice crepe), flavourful dahi bhallas (similar to papri chaat), and filling upmas (porridge made from dry-roasted semolina), are the best in town, despite their low price point. The original Defence Colony branch is my favourite, but they have now expanded monumentally. Saravana Bhavan in Connaught Place is another good place for vegetarian South Indian cuisine.
For non-vegetarian South Indian fare, you can’t go wrong with the thalis at Andhra Bhawan in Feroze Shah Road. You must also try the delectable South Indian style sea-food at Swagath in Defence Colony market.
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NORTH INDIAN/ MUGHLAI CUISINE:
North Indian is rarely my go-to cuisine when out for a meal, as that’s what we mostly eat at home. However, rich Mughlai food is favoured by most Delhiites and is always a crowd-pleaser. North Indian cuisine is also a fail-safe bet when entertaining guests from abroad.
My favourite restaurants for North Indian food are Bukhara and Dum Pukht, at the ITC Maurya Hotel. This iconic joint has appeared in various ‘Best Restaurants of the World’ lists for good reason. Their Bukhara Daal and Sikandari Raan are simply to-die for.
For less pricey options, I always choose Curry Leaf by Moets in Defence Colony market, while my husband enjoys the Kashmiri Kebabs at Pindi in Pandara Road market.
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FUSION/ CONTEMPORARY INDIAN CUISINE:
‘Fusion’ may not be the accurate term to describe the creative contemporary Indian cuisine popular nowadays, however that is what everyone calls it.
Indian Accent at the Lodhi Hotel (previously at the Manor Hotel), is the original exponent of this cuisine. A meal at this restaurant is more than worthy of its hefty price tag, as the consumer enjoys a unique experience. The tasting menu is the best way to sample signature dishes, but make sure you try this on an empty stomach!
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I love Asian cuisine. There’s something about the flavours of the Orient that appeals to most Indians. It could be the spicy tanginess or the vast variety of dishes/cuisines to choose from. Thai is probably my favourite Asian cuisine of all. I love the variety of curries they make, served with rice.
My go-to place for Thai food is Culinaire in GK-2 market. I am happy to say they have maintained their standards over the years.
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Chinese food can be divided in categories. For Desi Chinese or Chinjabi lovers, China Fare in Khan Market is an excellent option- easy on the pocket and tasty too.
For higher end and more authentic Chinese food, my personal favourite is Ping’s Café Orient in Lodhi Colony Market– their Baos and Dimsums are fabulous. Yum Yum Cha is another excellent chain. I usually order from Yum Yum Cha’s food delivery service known as ‘Noshi’– fantastic dimsum and sushi too.
Baoshuan at The Oberoi is a good Chinese option for special occasions, owing to its higher price tag.
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Sushi is the ultimate comfort food for me. My first choice of cuisine for ordering in, is always sushi.
Noshi is the best sushi delivery service, in my opinion. However, the best sushi in town was served at Wasabi by Marimoto at Taj Mahal Hotel (now closed), and at Megu at The Leela Palace Hotel. It is a pricey option but worth every penny. For a mid-range option, you could try Guppy by Ai at Lodhi Colony market.
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Italian is the only Continental/ European cuisine that makes it to my list simply because who doesn’t love a good pizza or pasta dish?!
The Big Chill Café chain will forever be my favourite, for the wonderful college memories attached to it, as well as for the large variety of delicious Italian food. Amici Café in Defence Colony and its newer version, Andrea’s Bar and Brasserie also serve delightful Italian dishes. Artusi Ristorante in GK-2 market is great for authentic Italian in a fine-dining ambiance.
A European Deli or cafe that I particularly like is Smoke House Deli.
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Growing up, there was only one place for authentic American diner-esque food- the All-American Diner in Habitat Centre. Their breakfast options were particularly popular. However, in recent years, the quality seems to have gone down.
Aku’s Burgers in Defence Colony market, serves arguably the tastiest burgers in town and is now a firm favourite of mine.
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Children of the 90s, are familiar with the concept of multi-cuisine restaurants. It was the best way for everyone in the family to enjoy a meal of their choice, while being out together. Where earlier it would be coffee shops at 5 star hotels, now it’s food courts in malls.
My favourite coffee shops to this day, are The Pavilion at ITC Maurya Hotel, and 360 at The Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi. A budget-friendly option I have enjoyed in the past is Eatopia at the Habitat Centre.
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The idea for this post germinated from my undying love for the Hot Chocolate Fudge from Nirula’s. Do you remember working hard in your term-end exams just so you could get a free HCF?! I did! This chain of restaurants began rapidly shutting down a few years back, but has been revived recently under new ownership. The best part? Their Hot Chocolate Fudge tastes exactly the way it did before.
My favourite neighbourhood bakery is Defence Bakery in Defence Colony market. They made the brownies that went with my wedding invite, and I love their chocolate truffle cake. However, recently, a new favourite of mine, is the Big Chill Cakery in Khan Market. I simply cannot resist their Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse cake!
This is my list of my favourite restaurants/eateries and of course it can never be complete. I’ll call it a work-in-progress, adding and subtracting as the need arises. Do you love any of these restaurants as much as I do? Do share your own all-time favourite restaurants in the comments section. Please share this post with someone you think might like it!
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