A Culinary Tour of Northern India

Mutton Karori rolls at Khan Chacha, macaroons at L’Opéra, and a cappuccino at Attitudes. With only a few meals left in India, I tried to revisit some of my favorite restaurants and cafes in Delhi. Food has always been a major part of my travelling experience and it forms an essential part of my memory of a place. With its smell, taste, texture, and appearance that stimulates all of my senses, it leaves me with unforgettable and vivid experiences.

CAM01712   Hidden gem in Khan market

The food in India has been new and exciting but above all diverse. Forget about India having four of the world’s largest religions co-existing alongside each other or enough languages to make even the most experienced linguists confused, India’s diversity can really been seen in  the food that it features. Travelling around the country, I have been able to fully immerse myself into the culinary experience and been taken on some unexpected adventures. While, despite how much I wish it was true, I was unable to have a gourmet experience for every meal (in fact there were many days when we just had Domino’s pizza) there has been some exceptionally well-done meals that will stay with me. Some of these meals are in fancy restaurants with intricately designed décor while some are in road-side restaurants located on remote mountain highways but all are worthy of a revisit. Unfortunately I will probably be unable to go back to these meals but I will relive the experiences many times in my memory:

It doesn’t look like much with its stream filled with garbage and its broken faucets but Thee Spazzo offers an exciting twist on Kadai Paneer. Garnished which red chilies, garlic, oregano, parsley, and many other unidentified spices, the Kadai Paneer is an explosion of flavour. The strong spices aggravates your taste buds with each bite but somehow it is strangely addicting even though after a while you start to stop tasting. 

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Thee Spazzo a.k.a the best restaurant in India 

Higher up on the same mountain road is Cara Dukan, literally meaning four shops. However, only the first shop if worthy of a visit. Preparing its meals over a small stove at the front, it offers some of the best Maggie (instant noodles) that you will ever have. Perhaps it is the crisp mountain water or the fresh vegetables but they were able to turn an ordinary dish into a delightful treat with buttery noodles cooked al dente.

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                Back in Delhi, with its white and gold theme and cushioned chairs offering a great contrast to the plastic chairs of Cara Dukan, Pure Punjab is a great place for succulent meats slowly roasted over a slow flame grill. The cooking method instantly locks in the flavour and the Chicken Malai Tikka is left with a tender inside that melts in your mouth. Each bite releases a juice into which the flavour of the chicken has seeped into.

                In the actual state of Punjab, in Amritsar, you will find, verified by my Indian boss (and his mother!), some of the best dal in India. Even though it might cause heart problems, the exorbitant amounts of oil and fat in the Dal gives it a rich, full-bodied flavor. The thick texture looks unappetizing but mixed with rice or roti, it adds a punch to your meal.

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Verified as the best Dal

 After hearing horror stories about people getting sick, I have always been wary of trying Indian street food but I made an exception for Bridgewazey. Located outside of Nehru Part in Yamuna Nagar, this vendor specializes in fried chats such as Aloo Tikki. As my friend says “the dirtier the chat is, the better it tastes.” The process of deep frying the Aloo keeps it crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside and it is covered with a secret sauce that successfully manages to blend together sweet and spicy flavors. Topped off with ginger garnish, this makes for a refreshing snack.

                There are so many other great tasting dishes but my experience with them is difficult to share in words and you really have to discover them yourself to fully understand. I began knowing very little about Indian cuisine but my food adventure has been eye-opening with continual serendipitous surprises. Even though it does not use fancy ingredients or complex recipes, Indian food is full of flavour and always manages to excite my taste buds. Each state in India has its own variations and something different to offer and this has kept my exploration of food fresh and unpredictable. In truth it reflects my experience in this country in general. The chaos, diversity, and energy that makes India so unique has opened my eyes to new perspectives and ensured that I was living actively with every day holding something new and exciting.

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About Bill Cao

I am a rising sophomore pursuing a dual degree in Management and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. I am interested in social entrepreneurship and love reading, traveling, exploring.