Through The Stomach to The Heart

East vs West vs North vs South – we were pitting Delhi against Delhi. Charis B was on a mission to crown one of the city’s zones as the ultimate foodie haven and clichéd as it may sound, it was a tough call.

They say the heart of a city is its people. I think it’s where you get the best food. It’s where those very people are the happiest. In a massive city like Delhi, which part can truly be called its “food centre”? Is it the snobby South or the economical North? Perhaps the upcoming East? Or the boisterous West? Let’s find out.

Popular belief is that East Delhi is home to journos, bureaucrats and artists. Whatever the popular belief may be, they still need to eat, right? Neel Giris in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 is a family favourite for its inexpensive South Indian grub. If you’re craving something dunked in oil, the Hot Chips shop in Pandav Nagar has potato and banana chips among others being fried and sealed in packets straight from the kadhai. With Noida practically in their backyard, most East Delhi folk eat at Sector 18 or in one of the many malls in the area. The Great Kebab Factory has a good unlimited kebab deal. Try them all but definitely do not miss the Galouti. The Great India Place Mall has a nice mix of brands, and shopping there usually translates into actually buying, rather than just window-shopping. The Food Court in the mall has many choices, but ditch your traditional eating habits for a savory and sweet donut at Mad Over Donuts. The hazelnut-filled Hazle Dazzle is to die for. Amritsari Express in Laxmi Nagar is a local favourite for its chur-chur naan and a wide variety of thalis. If you’re a parantha person, Not Just Paranthas (also in Laxmi Nagar) is just the place for you. Choose the size and stuffing and they’re brought steaming hot to your table. Their “pocket” paranthas are quite ingenious too!

Home to the butter-chicken inhaling, robust Dilli Punjabi, West Delhi is largely inhabited by business families. The one thing that’s certain is that they love their food, and lots of it.  Pirates of Grill in Rajouri Garden is doing well with its North Indian food fans. Each table has a grill so you can eat it hot, off the skewer. For less fancier fare, head to Bhape di Hatti in Tilak Nagar and try their greasy but oh-so-delicious chole bhature. At Rs 20 a plate, you’ll need to take a brisk walk around the market to digest it though! Punjabi by taste in Janakpuri (quite aptly named for its clientele) is another hot spot for Tandoori and Punjabi cuisine. Another famous place in Janakpuri is New Kadimi. Known mainly for its selection of Indian mithai, this is also a good spot to grab a quick chaat or ice cream. West Delhi-ites swear by Barbeque Nation in the New District Centre. The menu is a melting pot of food from all over the world (apparently). While this usually means that not even one type is cooked authentically, the sheer crowd at this restaurant speaks volumes about the how perfectly their tastes have been catered to.

The student-centric North Delhi is a lively, vibrant food space. It’s important that food is inexpensive here, but that doesn’t mean compromising on taste. The University area, particularly Kamla Nagar has some small but extremely popular eateries. Momo’s Point is a legend. Known for their distinct round, spicy momos and Chinese platters, this place almost always has a waiting time. The chole bature at Chacha’s is extremely popular- get there soon because it vanishes fast! The bhel puri wala and banta wala outside Hindu College are always busy. Cheap food that can be consumed on the go is the way to go here. Another must-try item is the Maggi and anda bhurji available at Tom Uncle’s near Khalsa College. Students swear by it. If you venture a little further, Majnu ka Tila is another foodie paradise. Home to local Tibetans, buy some green beads and silver jewellery before you head up some narrow stairs to Tee Dees Restaurant. The pancakes with honey or maple syrup are the perfect breakfast choice, while for lunch you can’t miss the chilli beef. For some good old Indian Chinese, China Bowl in Vijay Nagar is another popular place. Don’t miss their Pork fried rice. Embassy in Civil Lines is the place Delhi-ites hit when they’re craving Indian; the kebabs are pretty good here.

South Delhi has long carried its “posh” tag without any complaints. Don’t know about you, but I feel awfully under-dressed every time I’m in GK’s M block market. It feels like it’s imperative to dress like you’re going to a wedding to be able to stroll around this market. It’s quite fashionable to be seen at Ritu Dalmia’s Diva eating the Harvest Moon Salad. Although momos are available on the street, most prefer the whole-wheat momos at Brown Sugar that you can get for three times the price. They’re healthier apparently, but I’ll concede they are delicious! The New Friends Colony community centre market is a quiet but very popular food destination. Don’t miss The Yum Yum Tree‘s sushi night every Tuesday for excellent deals on unlimited fresh sushi. Not everything is fussy and lah-di-dah though- step into Bon Bon and you’ll be transported back in time- the smell of fresh bread and biscuits along with the insanely low prices will make you smile for sure. Hauz Khas is another fantastic food haven. You’ll spot many an expat in the small restaurants that serve up some great food. Try Elma’s – a quaint bakery, where you can order scones and cheese-ham toasties with your tea. If you like good music and continental food, head over to TLR for a fun evening with friends. Further south, for the Italian lovers there is Spaghetti Kitchen in the Select Citywalk Mall, Saket and Sartoria in Vasant Vihar. Warning: Expect to eat suitably “fancy” sounding dishes.

Phew! A crazy round up of Delhi (and it ain’t no small feat!) I came back a good few kgs heavier. But that was not the only downside – add a whole lot of ‘confusion’ to that. Every area had something delicious to offer. The South, with its sheer vastness and variety seemed to ride over the others, but for me the North had emotional value. It was North Delhi that gave me my first real “taste” of Delhi and its celebration of food. It appears the East and West have some catching up to do!

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