Amenla - One of the joint owners of The Nagaland Kitchen in Green Park and the Nagaland stall in Dilli Haat that serves delicacies like pork curry and Naga thali.
If one wants to savour the varied flavours of the Indian palate, then the obvious way is to take a tour of the country. But, if one is short on time, then just come to Delhi. Here, one can sample the classic dishes of each region, without having to travel every nook and corner of the country and blowing up a hole in the pocket.
What’s more? Such dishes are prepared by none other than people who are natives of these states. Rabi Sen, who calls himself a refugee from Bangladesh, serves up eclectic Bengali snacks at the most nominal prices at his Chittaranjan Park shop. As the sun sets, one can see visitors thronging in couples, groups and loners for a hog. Sen along with his wife Shobha manages the shop. Shobha contributes in overseeing that the recipes are true to Bengali tastes. “We have a lot of Bengali refugees staying nearby who love to eat at our shop. Food enthusiasts come here as CR Park market no. 1 is where you get all sorts of Bengali delicacies under one roof,” Shobha explains. As you walk out of the shop and go about, you find the Puchka vendor (selling the Bengali version of Golgappas), roam around a little more and you bump into a Ghugnee vendor called Shyamal, who sells the Bengali version of dried yellow peas curry spiced up in true Kolkata style. There are at least two Jhal Muri (Bengali version of Bhel Puri made with puffed rice, mustard oil, onions etc) vendors in market no. 1. There is also a shack selling all kinds of Bengali condiments from the quintessential Kasundi to prawn crackers to Badis and almost everything one can imagine.
Maharashtrian snacks are apparently very popular in Delhi and quite easily available. Deepak Wadhwa’s father came from erstwhile Bombay and presented Bhel Puri to Delhi’s tastebuds when he set shop at South Extension I in 1973. He still remains a hot-seller after all these years. His success can be recorded in his own words, “We sell Bhel Puri and Sev Puri. We also added Jhal Muri to the menu as there was a demand for it. The recipe of Bhel and Sev Puri is from Bombay and we learnt Jhal Muri from a Bengali guy,” says Wadhwa.
A slow but steady demand has increased the presence of Kashmiri food outlets in Delhi. The newest kid on the block is Kashmiri Kitchen near Ghitorni metro station. Owner Pearl Khan doles out “Lahradar kababs, Kokur Yakhni, Mutton Yakhni, Veth Chaman, Mutton Pulao besides the more famous Kashmiri delicacies. The spices are sourced from the state too for true authentic flavour.” Khan says, “Delhi becomes home to people from all states who come and settle here. We have Bengalis coming to Kashmiri Kitchen and liking our food as Kasmiris and Bengalis share a likeness for mutton. We also suit the palate of foreigners very well as we make mildly spicy food which they love.”
Move over to Dilli Haat opposite INA market and you don’t need to trod any further. You will find cuisines of many states here including Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Rajasthan, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and more. The little known cuisine of Uttarakhand is being made famous at Uttarakhand stall. “Chausa rice, Jhangoora ki Kheer (made from a special variety of rice), Til ki Chutney are a few of the many Uttarakhand delicacies we serve here,” says owner of the stall A S Rana. He has also been allotted the Dilli ki Dawat stall at Dilli Haat which rounds up many regional delicacies all of Delhi has to offer. “I thought Delhi is a melting pot of cultures and this is a good place to showcase all of them under one roof. So I have momos and Thukpa from the North-east, Tandoori specialities of Punjab, Chole Kulche of Delhi, Biryani of Hyderabad, Lemon rice of South India and a Sattu drink of Bihar.”
The Nagaland Kitchen in Green Park is owned by Chubamanen Longkumer and his sisters. They churn out smoked pork curry, Naga thali and other authentic Naga dishes. They also run a successful stall at Dilli Haat serving the same cuisine. Shiv, the manager at Nagaland stall at Dilli Haat, says, “People love the Pork ribs and Pork Thali. We have people from Nagaland, Delhi and even foreigners coming here to eat.”
Delhi indeed is the place where spices from all parts of the country come together to create an Indian blend.