As the second-largest city in the world, it should be no surprise to anyone that Delhi’s restaurants are some of the finest on the planet. Its fascinating history and unique climate have contributed to a cuisine unlike any other, along with its up-and-coming social scene, it has the remarkable ability to support an astonishingly varied and gourmet food culture.
While shopping, business, technology and fun all draw people in, eating is its own reason to take a holiday in Delhi. From authentic mom and pop kitchens to restaurants whose awards are too numerous to list, here is a look at seven of the finest places to eat in Delhi.
Dum Pukht is a mainstay of Lucknow’s Awadhi cuisine and is a style of cooking that has found a regal home in Delhi. Meats, spices and herbs are placed in pot called a degh and sealed with dough before being cooked over a very low flame. The resulting dish is juicy and rich, and Dum Pukht specializes in this type of cooking. The recipient of numerous awards, Dum Pukht’s food is superb, and the restaurant’s interior and service is as well. Crystal chandeliers, top-notch service, exquisite decorations — if you want an excellent meal served to you in luxury, Dum Pukht is unrivaled.
Heralded in numerous places as one of the best restaurants in the world, Indian Accent is a fusion restaurant located in a small, luxury boutique hotel. Here, the chef blends local foods, spices and preparations and contemporary cuisine through a fascinating alchemy that brings out the best in each flavor and texture. A North Indian favorite like galawat lamb kebab is stuffed with foie gras and served with a strawberry chutney, and the butter chicken is made with peanut butter. If you’ve never had Indian fusion, try Indian Accent the next time you venture out for a meal in Delhi.
It’s been called “The Best Indian Restaurant in the World” by more than a few publications, but it’s only by stepping into its rustic interior and taking a bite out of family-sized naan that you’ll be able to believe just how special Bukhara is. Try one of their unforgettable kebabs or their Dal Bukhara — black lentils simmered overnight in tomatoes, ginger and garlic. Like the previous two restaurants on this list, Bukhara is pricey. It will set you and a companion back about 4,500 rupees, but it’s worth it!
Borrowing from the air and feel of the famous “thieves market” from which it takes its name, Chor Bizarre has an eclectic and rustic atmosphere so full of flair that if it weren’t for the sumptuous aromas, you would forget you were here for a meal. Try the deep-fried lotus roots and the lamb marinated in 36 spices. Relatively inexpensive, two people can eat lunch for under 1,000 rupees.
The China Kitchen
If you ever tire of Indian food while you’re in Delhi, The China Kitchen is the perfect antidote. Located in the Hyatt Regency, The China Kitchen is an authentic Chinese restaurant utilizing fresh ingredients and old-world preparations. They offer set menu options, which remove the stress of decision-making and provide good value. Peking Duck, spinach pancakes — anything you try will be well-prepared, thoroughly Chinese and fabulously presented. They also offer an impressive after-hours bar open 24-hours a day.
One of Delhi’s oldest restaurants, Moti Mahal opened just after India gained independence in 1947. It claims to be the first restaurant to offer recipes like tandoori chicken, burra kebabs and butter chicken. Its atmosphere is still just as simple and unassuming as it was over 60 years ago, and it is still a great place to get excellent and authentic North Indian food.
Karim’s opened just over 100 years ago, and even though the restaurant has additional locations throughout the city, the original building and its food are hard to beat. Focused on the food of the imperial kitchens from the days of the Mughal Empire, Karim’s is well-known for its mutton burra kebabs and tandoori chicken. Affordable and steeped in history, Karim’s is a great and unforgettable place to get a meal.
Eating in Delhi is an experience unlike any other. While you may not have the time — or the money — to hit each one of these excellent spots, make cuisine a priority the next time you get in to town. Seeing and hearing about the history and culture of a place are only pieces of the experience. Tasting it — that’s where the true enjoyment lies.
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