Marryam H Reshii

Delhi is big. Delhi is busy. Delhi is crowded. But Delhi is also delicious, and Times of India food critic Marryam Reshii knows where to find the best eating in the heaving Indian metropolis. Then again, you’d expect that from a food and lifestyle journalist that’s been on the job for the past 30 years. In addition to her work as a critic, Reshii also contributes to the newspaper’s other publications and projects including its restaurant guide, the Times Food Guide. Eating out aside, spices and food history are two of Reshii’s other passions and she has written extensively about both.

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“If This Biryani Doesn’t Make You Happy, Nothing Will.”

Dum Pukht is a special restaurant cooking traditional Northern Indian food. It doesn’t have too much on the menu that keeps you going back – just three of four things – but those few things are spectacular. Like the lamb biryani, which is prepared the traditional way under a crust made with flour and water. When this crust is opened up, the fragrance released is, well if this biryani doesn’t make you feel happy then I’m sorry, nothing will. Then there are the kebabs with meat so amazingly moist, it’s absolutely wild. And my favourite, the nihari. Nihari is a bone-in curry cooked very, very slowly over fire so that the gelatine in the bones release and thicken the gravy. I mean, you can’t get better than that. Not many get this recipe correct – most take shortcuts or add too many spices which spoil the richness and flavour of the bones. The taste of the meat and the spices must be in tandem, otherwise it’s like going to see an orchestra only to hear the second violinist, with the rest of the orchestra drowned out. Dum Pukht is one of the most expensive restaurants in Delhi, but when I feel like treating myself and a friend, this is where we go. A few years ago, before Asmaa Khan opened her London restaurant (Darjeeling Express), she asked me where to eat great Indian food in New Delhi, and I took her here – and she’s still talking about it!

The Best Chaat In The Universe

Deep in old Delhi, inside the Kinari Bazaar, there is a man named Padam who sits at the entrance of the ice factory lane, and he’s selling the best chaat in the entire universe. He’s an elderly gentleman, and he knows exactly how special he is. He makes the best chaat – nobody else can give you chaat like he can – nobody. Chaat is made of little bits and bobs, maybe 10 or 12 different things that you kind of string together. It’s a very fiddley process and far too time-consuming to make every ingredient yourself at home – but he does. It’s almost mind-numbing to think of all the work he does to make his chaat; he does not outsource anything. He makes everything in his home – and then he brings it all into this grotty, over-crowded market where he sells it. It’s a piece of heaven, it’s very, very special. It’s not very difficult to find him – you just need to get into Kinari Bazaar and then ask for the ice-factory lane. He’s there from about 3pm to 8pm.

Where You’ll Find Me On The Weekend

My go-to restaurant is Town Hall, inside the hip Kahn market. The atmosphere is very casual and fun; it’s crowded, and you drink beer or wine and talk over loud music. There are three head chefs here, and they each have their own specific style. You can eat amazing sushi and Japanese dishes with ingredients so wonderful that you just sort of fall in love with them. They have delicious Thai dishes, like fresh and vibrant pomelo salad – and they have pizza sometimes, but I just go for the Japanese food because it’s very, very good.

A ‘Must-Try’ Dish In An Iconic Restaurant

In the centre of the city, right by Connaught Place is Kwality Restaurant. It’s about 90 or 100 years old now, and was recently refurbished. It has a really nice and quaint sort of vibe. It’s famous for its delicious and buttery, soft chana bhatura; puffy and flaky white-fried bread served with a chickpea curry.

An Exciting Addition To Delhi’s Dining Scene

Tres is a Spanish restaurant and bar that you could say is pushing the boundaries here in New Delhi. I come here quite a lot; the food is very good, very exciting, and for Delhi, very cutting edge. I’ve been about six times now, and every time I visit, I have to order the chicken liver ice-cream garnished with crunchy fried onions. I’m absolutely crazy about it.

A Jazz Bar Where The Menu Steals The Spotlight

A friend of mine is the chef at The Piano Man, a jazz club and restaurant. She travels quite relentlessly, so she’s not always there, but the menu is inspired from her travels; especially throughout places like South-East Asia. It’s a very interesting place to eat, and a fun place to be.

Where To Find Great Coffee

There’s a coffee movement in India, and Quick Brown Fox, an independently owned specialty coffee roaster, is a great spot to experience it. It gets specialty coffee grown in the southern states and serve great food to go with it. It’s one of the best places in Delhi to get a really great cup of coffee.

Guide last updated August 2019

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