The next time you are talking about street food in Delhi and someone suggests trying momos, noodles and kathi rolls, zone out from the discussion right away. There is much more and the Dehlnavi trail pop-up at the Golconda Pavilion in ITC Kohenur will be an eye-opener to the actual street food of Delhi.
Led by Chef Rais from ITC Maurya in Delhi, the popup showcases chaats, kebabs, and fish fry and goes on to dish out Dal Dehlnavi to nimona pulao and so on. The handpicked curation showcases unaltered taste influenced by Mughal, Baniya, Kayasth, Punjabi and many more cuisines.
We start with Delhi’s famous chaats. I am slightly surprised to see chaat carts carrying fruits cut to look like little bowls; bowls of watermelon, muskmelon, guava and apple. That is my introduction to kulle ki chaat, a popular summer chaat made by scooping out boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes or summer specials like watermelons. They are then filled with a mixture of chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, spices, and tangy chutneys and dusted with chaat masala, sev and coriander leaves. I quite enjoyed the watermelon and guava chaat and also the dahi gujiya.
Then came the Delhi-style fried chicken; nothing special there, just homestyle batter chicken joints. Some well-curated vegetarian starters include the Beh ke kebab (made with lotus root) and Tulsi ke kebab — a cross between dahi and paneer tikka, flavoured with basil and fresh rose petals— the last is a surprise to the palate.
In the main course, I was looking forward to the dals so I first sampled some Dal Dehlnavi, a slow-cooked moth and split moong dal cooked with green chillies, roasted cumin and ginger juliennes. Also loved the kunni di dal (daal makhani), which was not sweet, gooey and creamy like most restaurant-style kali dals. The dals come with khameeri roti (a fermented whole wheat flatbread) and biscuitty roti, a crispy, sweet and soft roti.
Chef Rais insists I try the Dilli ki nihari even as I am set to go overboard with the butter chicken. So I tried both and I would still go with the butter chicken. The nihari is creamy and has a mild aroma of kewra (a flowerym sweetish aroma which is often used in Lucknowi biryani). I am not a fan of kewra.
However, I became an instant fan of the Gosht pulao that tasted a bit like the flavoursome spicy tahari.
The dessert platter had Barf ki handi and kheer Khurchan and gulab jamun. I took one cottony soft warm gulab jamun and called it a day.
The Dehlnavi food trail is on for dinner till July 16th for ₹2000 plus taxes at Golconda Pavilion, ITC Kohenur.