Archive | March, 2013

Food in Delhi

27 Mar

As we are about to leave Delhi in a couple of days, I thought it is time that I write about the food I loved eating in Delhi. Well, after all, my blog is about food!

Let me start with Oh! Kolkata – the place we frequented most, partly because it serves Bengali food, but even more importantly because, being right next to our house, we could just walk there any time we felt like. And we felt like it pretty often! Food is good, reminiscent of home cooked Bengali food that I grew up eating. Most often, we went on Sunday afternoons and ordered the buffet lunch. It is reasonably priced and offers a large selection of traditional dishes. But I must say that over the years, I have seen some decline in quality of food. And then, I can pretty much cook everything they have to offer; so the only reasons we kept going there were sheer laziness and the temptation of eating full course Bengali meal without having to cook one. My all time favorites are: prawn cutlet, kosha mangsho and nolen gurer ice cream.

Next in the order of frequency of visits is a Chinese restaurant called Royal Princess – again, within walking distance from our house. Located on 16th Floor of a business complex in Nehru Place, it offers beautiful view of the Lotus Temple. Food is authentic Chinese (and not Indian-Chinese), but I can bet that my friend Lingli Gao cooks better Chinese. Deprived of Lingli’s home cooked Chinese meals, we took refuge in the next best alternative that Delhi had to offer. But it is an expensive alternative with meal for two costing up to Rs. 4000! Peking duck was crispy and delicious and we enjoyed a whole lot of lamb, prawns and pork dishes.

We have eaten at several restaurants at Hauz Khas village. Let me start with Park Baluchi, located inside the deer park. We have been there quite a few times and pretty much ordered their chicken potli every time. It is a tennis ball sized kebab– chicken mince stuffed inside thin layers of chicken breast. Full marks for innovativeness and taste. Sadly, two of these, and I would be full every time. My husband also loved one of their paneer dishes—tender pieces of cottage cheese in white sauce and liberally sprinkled with dry fruits.

L’Amour is another place we have eaten quite often. It serves Mediterranean food. Entry to this restaurant is through a tiny rattling lift, which makes you rather scared, but brave hearts are rewarded with a spacious restaurant with outdoor seating arrangement. I have always liked the ambience. Risotto is good (though not as cheesy I would have liked it), as are thin crust pizzas.  They have a nice Sunday brunch, but sadly, we never ended up there on Sundays. I don’t recommend fish though; my husband and one of my friends did not feel so well after eating fish.

Another Italian place, though not in Hauz Khas (but in M block market, GK II) where we went once is Diva. And we went with an Italian friend and he declared it authentic. What more can I say? Food was lovely and now I wonder why we never went back there. Perhaps I can squeeze in a dinner at Diva before we leave.

I can think of two more places in Hauz Khas – Golconda, which serves Hyderabadi food, and Tarami, which serves Kashmiri food. Hyderabadi and Kashmiri food make on top of my list of favourite foods, but none of these restaurants quite do justice to them. Nahari of Golconda is good, biriyani is not. Tarami, I will not go again. Chor Bizzare near New Delhi Railway station also serves Kashmiri food, but I have had better Kashmiri food – food I will talk about later in this blog.

Gunpowder is a place we never ended up going, but I can’t say I am a fan of South Indian food. Same holds true for Naivaidyam, another South Indian joint in Hauz Khas. But I have heard wonderful things about them from my friends.

There is a Japanese restaurant called Izakaya at DLF Promenade Mall where we have gone a couple of times. I love Japanese food, can’t say my husband loves it as much, but he comes along to humor me.  But even he loved their panfried salmon and I think this is the best salmon I have eaten in Delhi. I also liked their thick wheat noodle soup. There are two more places where I have tried salmon. One is Latitude at Khan Market and another is Indian Coffee House at Connaught Place, but none are as good as Izakaya’s. If you like salmon, head to Izakaya.

What I have really missed in Delhi is a plate of piping hot paella – seafood or otherwise. We have tried two places and been disappointed by both. Al Fresco’s paella was mediocre and Shalom was just being optimistic when it called it’s fried rice a paella! I think there is a niche for authentic paella in Delhi and I hope someone corners this niche market soon. I, for one, will be one loyal customer.

Good news for chicken lovers in Delhi is the recent opening of Nando’s in one of the DLF malls. Delhi, it seems, loves Nando’s because we had to wait in queue both the time we went there. And we love Nando’s chicken. It was our favourite place to eat back in the Cambridge days and I think I have eaten at Nando’s pretty much in whatever city I could find one. Colombo and Dhaka comes to mind. In Dhaka, one evening, a couple of colleagues and I walked across several blocks late in the evening, just to eat at Nando’s. I can bet that they ‘do their chicken right’!

Now, let’s talk barbeques. Barbeque Nation and Kebab Factory are both awesome. But, if you are into just kebabs, then I recommend Barbeque Nation as they have a better selection of kebabs and barbequed meat. Kebab Factory, on the other hand, have a better buffet menu – but then, it’s kebabs we want, don’t we?

And I have saved for the end my top two favorites. One is Karims opposite Jama Masjid. Their mutton burra and lamb stew is to die for. There are several other Karims spread across the city, but none match the original Karims. Well, if you are into ambience and décor, this is not the place for you.  It’s just tables and chairs, tables that you have to share with strangers during rush hour. But the food is delicious and I will keep going back there, even if I have to elbow my way through the most crowded streets I have ever walked on.

And then there is Ahad Sons – a takeaway joint well hidden in the alleys of Masjid Moth village in South Delhi. And they make the best Kashmiri food ever. Tabak Maz, Rogan Josh, Dhaniwal Korma, Aab Gosht, Rishta and Gustaba – you name it and they cook it to perfection. Everything is just heavenly, just as Kashmir is supposed to be – a veritable heaven on earth.

As we leave Delhi, I will look upon these last two years as a gastronomic journey par excellence – a journey peppered with numerous visits to Delhi’s historic sites courtesy Delhi Heritage Walk. And yes, reunion with old friends and making new ones. Goodbye Delhi, till we see you again.


My blog posted on WLE website

22 Mar

My blog posted on WLE website

On the occasion of World Water Day. This year’s theme is water cooperation. Here I write about a review of water user’s association that we did for the ADB a couple of years ago.

Asian Water Development Outlook 2013

21 Mar

Now, let me begin by saying that I am a fan of composite indices, be it Human Development Index, Hunger Index or Water Poverty Index. Yes, they do sometimes add up apples and oranges, but then, they also give a composite snapshot of actual developmental outcomes in a succinct way — a way that is easy to comprehend and compare. The latest in a series of composite indices is the Asian Development Bank‘s and Asia Pacific Water Forum‘s National Water Security index published in the Asian Water Development Outlook 2013. This was released at last week’s Asia Water Week in Manila. This morning,  Wouter Arriens of ADB presented it at the ESCAP-FAO meeting on Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Bangkok  that I am attending.  And I found his presentation very interesting. So, what is this National Water Security? It is a composite index of five key dimensions, with each dimension having its own indicators. These key dimensions are:

  1. Household Water Security measured in terms of access to piped water supply, access to improved sanitation and hygiene
  2. Economic Water Security measured as agricultural, industrial and energy water security
  3. Urban Water Security measured in terms of water supply, waste water treatment and drainage
  4. Environmental Water Security measured in terms of watershed disturbance, pollution, water resource development and biotic factors
  5. Resilience to water related disasters measured in terms of exposure, vulnerability, hard and soft coping strategies

Indicators of these five key dimensions were calculated for 6 regions of the Asia Pacific: Central and West Asia, East Asia, The Pacific, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Advanced economies in Asia. Outcomes are not very surprising: the advanced economies have achieved  much higher levels of water security than most other regions, with East Asia (including China) not too far behind. What was particularly disturbing, though not surprising, is that South Asia fared poorly in terms of all five types of water securities — putting the region at the bottom of the heap. India’s score is particularly poor, it scores 1 (where 1 is minimum and 5 is maximum) in household, urban and environmental water security; 2 in resilience and 3 in economic water security. I hope this Report is taken seriously by the Indian policy makers and that it leads to introspection and action.

Well, like every methodology, I am sure, this one too is open to criticisms and possible improvements. After all, such composite indices do simplify a complex and messy reality. But, in doing so, it provides a common metrics for comparison and comparison is often a good thing. You can find the report here and I hope there will be many such reports in the future.