7:07pm, 25th June, 2016


6 min

For a country that is home of some of the most exotic food preparations, it is not uncommon to find a food stall, a restaurant or a coffee shop at every other turn. However, not all of them whet your appetite. If you are a foodie, your quest for variety in cuisines will be short-lived as places to eat in India abound! The call of “Chai-garam” proclaims the availability of hot tea on obscure railway platforms, and if you are tempted you’ll singe your tongue to one of the truest Indian experiences with food and drink. From the foil packed dinner trays that is railway dining to the gourmet meals on dull silver that is fine dining, it’s all available in India.

We give you the lowdown on some of the best places to eat at in India’s top cities.

Aslam (Delhi):

Many people I know head straight either to Karim’s or Al-Jawahar, when going to Jama Masjid for a meal. There’s nothing wrong with either of those places, but I just feel that both are past their prime and over-hyped; like many other places in Matia Mahal and Old Delhi.

The Butter Cream Chicken at Aslam is nothing short of stunning. The chicken’s marinated in a white pepper driven subtle spice mix and then cooked on a charcoal grill. It’s then tossed in an sauce that’s made from yoghurt, cream, a ton-of-butter, pepper and is mildly spiced. The yoghurt cuts through the fat and doesn’t let it overpower the palate. The result is one of the best chicken dishes that I’ve tasted off the street.

Simply outstanding! If you’re the calorie-counting types, then forget it. Keep counting your calories. This stuff ain’t cut for you. It’s pure butter-cream, there’s no way one can do a diet version of this one. But then, it’s not as if you’re gonna having it every day. Trust me, indulge yourself, it’s worth every bite.

1. aslam delhi

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Café Good luck (Pune):

Irani Cafes are known to be iconic, value-for-money eating joints with a basic setup in some of the most high visibility locations. But the one thing that most of these cafes have the bull’s eye on is more often than not the food.

One of the best-known Irani Cafés I explored in Pune is Café Good Luck, replete with a namesake chowk – Good Luck Chowk. Café Good Luck is a much-talked about and touted eatery in the college-heavy area of FC Road. Started in 1935 by Haji Hussain Ali Yakshi, this joint has been a popular hangout of students from colleges all around including Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

It’s timeless specials like brun maska, bun omlette, bheja masala, Irani chai and caramel pudding. Mutton liver masala, Mutton kheema and anda bhurji are the best I had till date.

Expect a line during peak hours, when nearby university students trickle in for breakfast or late dinner. Don’t expect fancy food or decor, this is a diner-style cheap and classic place that has been around the block longer than most.

2. Cafe good luck

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Peter Cat (Kolkata):

A restaurant where cocktails are cheaper than the food, the food is an appealing mix of Indian and continental, and the environment is quirky and unique. Where else but Peter Cat in Kolkata! It’s been a favorite among locals and visitors for decades. A trip to Kolkata would be incomplete without dining there.

Peter Cat’s warm and dimly lit interior speaks of history. Waiters look resplendent in crisp Rajasthani white and red costumes, which match the colors of the restaurant’s interior but curiously contrast with its name — a name that doesn’t give away much at all. If you dig around though, you’ll discover its the namesake of a famous cat who lived in Lords cricket ground in London from 1952 to 1964 (and Kolkata is a city addicted to cricket).

The menu, which comes in the shape of a cat’s head, contains some real delights. Of course, I have to mention the signature dish — the iconic Iranian-style chelo kebab. Two minced mutton kebabs and one chicken kebab, served with rice and an egg. It’s legendary among the residents of Kolkata who flock there for it. However, if you feel like a break from Indian food, you’ll welcome the sizzlers. They’re just as sought after.

3. peter cat

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Nair Mess (Chennai):

Nair mess is located in one of the by lanes aka muttu sandhu opposite to Chepauk stadium. Keep your expectations high for food and least for the ambiance. Nair’s Mess looms ahead like a gloriously ugly mirage, with its beat up old name board towering over a dusty street, forgotten rubble and tangle of bikes. The “mess” is a largish room with wooden tables and chairs; the place is full of people who have come only for the business of eating.

Banana leaves are placed on the table, glasses of water appear. You sprinkle some water from your glass onto the leaf, push the water around to do a rudimentary cleaning of the leaf and lift and shake the leaf so that the excess water drips off. Almost immediately, a bit of citron pickle, cabbage poriyal and lentil and yellow pumpkin kootu are spooned onto the leaf. There’s also a bowl of plain rice.

The fried fish is outstanding – palm sized and the thinnest slices of fish I’ve ever seen – they could give slim mobile phones and watches a run for their money!! The fish is fresh, lightly coated with masala and fried just right – crisp but still moist.

4. nairs-mess

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Krazzy Folds (Bengaluru):

In the dreariness of work and jobs, food and drink have become the simplest, accessible comforts. Most intelligent conversation revolves around this anyway. On entry to KF, you’ll notice there’s a lot of art to enjoy here. An arresting 8-bit, pixel-art moustache is the first thing I saw, then a row of concave and convex mirrors alongside tables, to amuse you (and your kids). There are snug and casual seating options. The ceiling-level blackboard menu gives you a list to look up to, and if you’re not interested in craning, there are handouts. Our table of seven was given about five; unheard of, and a soft spot immediately sunk itself in my heart.
For the mechanically-inclined, there’s a wall of fixtures, from mosquito racquets to disc brakes, all unified and barely-distinguishable, thanks to a coat of cream paint.

They can now rightly be categorized as a Casual Dining place that offers “Fusion Food”.  From Tacos and Tostadas to Okonomiyaki(Japanese Pancake).  From Pastas, Salads and Sandwiches to Stuffed Chicken and Thai curry.  They have it all.  What is really interesting about this place is the innovative starters that they have and how they make all the food they serve look so very good.  The food is a treat to all your senses!

5. krazzy folds

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When you think of India, you think of food. And when you think of Indian food, you think of curry – or the bland butter chicken found in food courts around the world. But like most countries you visit, there is so much more to Indian diners than makes it to a food court near you. Each destination has an incredible array of delicious local treats that you won’t find anywhere else. So let’s get right to the good stuff with above list.

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