I’ve never been a fan of commercial Indian food – unless its mughlai, which is a totally different ball game! When I say Indian food – I really mean North Indian food of the butter chicken, paneer pasand variety. Recently, however, I’ve been on a regional Indian food trail in Delhi. With the restaurant business booming, and people willing to experiment with flavors and food, there are a lot of excellent, often stand-alone, restaurants offering regional cuisine. Some of these are old, some are new, but most of them are excellent! This is my humble attempt at chronicling my gastronomical journey across India, without having to pack my bags and head out of Delhi! Bon Appetit!
Located adjacent to Axis Bank, behind a tiny community park in Shahpur Jat, is Big Bongg Theory – a little gem of a Bengali eatery.
With just enough space for about 3-4 tables, this tiny little eatery serves up some huge flavors! The restaurant is run by a young woman who is passionate about food and has in-depth knowledge on ingredients and flavors – and not just Bengali flavors either, she’s traveled all over India to discover unique ingredients and local flavors. That she chose to start a Bengali restaurant – that too outside the normal environs of CR Park (The Bong bastion in Delhi), is a nod to her roots. And the food here will get your taste buds singing!
The best part, though? She serves only seasonal food – which means you get fresh ingredients and weather appropriate food.
We arrived into this tiny, white oasis on a hot summer day. And the first thing you need upon entering a restaurant after braving the summer heat is something to quench your thirst. The aamadar shorbot does just that – and how! Aamadar belongs to the ginger family, but it tastes like mango, which is why it’s called a mango-ginger zinger. It has the sweetness of a mango with the slight zing of ginger and it is absolutely brilliant! To start our food feast, we ordered the phish (fish) fry – crunchy, yummy, fishy goodness and leaf bora (fritters). So yes, this is a fried leaf pakoda (in a way). But it’s not your standard spinach leaf. The leaf fritter is also seasonal – and summer is the season for……………..jute leaf! Yes, jute – the same jute that gives us rope and jute sacks – that jute. Coated in batter and fried, served with Bengali mustard. Yum!
In the main course, you never can go wrong with sea food. Our pick was the sorshe mach – a light, mustard paste gravy with onions and onion seeds, and prawn malai curry – big, juicy prawns swimming in a thin, delicately flavored coconut and mustard curry with some rice. Heavenly tastes, especially as all of the food was cooked fresh!
Your turn – what’s your favorite regional food restaurant in Delhi?