In Indian culinary circles the debate is still open: what is the gastronomic capital of India? Is it Delhi's melting pot that encompasses all cuisines and claims to have the best street food in the country (a boast that Calcutta, which loves its spring rolls and jhal muri, can vehemently refute)? Or will it be Mumbai, completely modern and futuristic in its approach to food, given that it is the financial capital of India? Or has the South really proved that there is more to Indian food than butter chicken and tikkas?
The discussion could go on and on, but the fact remains that Indian cuisine continues to evolve and, thanks to new techniques and experiences, leaves its delicious imprint on palates around the world. A good example of this is the proliferation of restaurants offering progressive cuisine (including over-the-top molecular gastronomy).
However, there are times when you crave a well-cooked curry or even a simple daal that exudes that irresistible, traditional and authentic flavor that cannot be imitated. at home (so no, we're not talking about comfort food here). Luckily, a new name has been added to the list where you can get just that - Purani Dilli, which was recently launched at Four Points Sheraton in Mankhool.
We really liked the name. Ask any Delhiite what they miss most about their hometown and the vibe, ambiance and food of Purani Dilli will likely top the list. Small restaurants and small kiosks serving delicious kulcha and chole are an integral part of life.
However, if you expect this atmosphere when you enter Purani Dilli, then it will also remain a little disappointed. The interiors are modern, with chandeliers, soft armchairs, soft lighting, neutral-toned decorations, etc. Yes, there is a quirky and colorful hand rickshaw, a mithaiwala and a bangle kiosk. Like other restaurants in Karama and Bur Dubai, Purani Dilli also offers live music with a band playing famous ghazals and Hindi film songs. But a little touch of the “real” Delhi would have been nice. We were told that the decor is international while the food is Indian, as the restaurant plans to focus solely on the food. No tricks, no distractions. It is fine for me! Because there are many things to enjoy on the menu.
Preparations for this restaurant had been underway for some time and apparently three chefs had arrived from India before chef Mujeeb-ur-Rehman was finally chosen to prepare the menu together with resident chef Mohammad Afroj Alam. Obviously the inspiration comes from Delhi, so it's hard not to notice the Mughal touch. But what stands out is the beautiful mix of flavours.
Our favorite is the Galouti kebab, which is truly exceptional. It is not known how this dish, known to its royal ancestors, was previously served to the Nawabs, but this comes pretty close. One bite and the ground beef burgers melt in your mouth. Simply perfect. The Aloo Tikki, Dahi Kebabs (perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy with yoghurt on the inside) and Paneer Tikka (stuffed with apricots and walnuts) also deserve brownie points.
What we loved about the cuisine was the way a single item added spice to a normal dish. Be it the Ajwaini fish tikkas, where the spicy flavor of the ajwain stood out, or the Lahsuni Bhuna Palak, whose flavor was greatly enhanced by the roasted garlic, each had a distinct flavour.
Then there was the piece de resistance: the Nihari. Now, this famous Mughal delicacy is not exactly easy to prepare, but you can definitely judge a chef based on his skills in preparing nihari. By this standard, Purani Dilli passes with flying colors, as it was the best Nihari we have had in a long time. The perfect tasting stew had the softest pieces of mutton floating in it and combined with rotis or delicious biryani it tasted divine.
As mentioned in precedence, this is the real taste of Delhi court beatings. We wonder if you'll ever be tempted to incorporate more modern elements into your kitchen. But no, some things are better preserved under the name “Purani”.
Dubai has many Indian restaurants. How do you want the food here to be different from others?
We found that there weren't many options when it came to Indian specialty best kebab restaurants in Old Delhi: favorites «Purani Dilli». In today's demanding, customer-centric world, specialization is essential. Our specialty is the Mughlai cuisine of old Delhi.
Which three dishes should you try from this menu?
Non-vegetarian: Galawati Kebab, Jama Masjid Murgh Biryani, Jama Masjid ke Nihari
Vegetarian – Dahi ke Kebab, Lahsooni Bhuna Palak
Dessert – Chukandar-e-Afroz
One criticism of traditional Indian cuisine is that it is too heavy. What is your opinion?
We work hard to stay true to the flavors of old Delhi, keeping in mind that our customers are increasingly health conscious. So as not to find them too greasy or too heavy.
Do you also want to introduce new or modern elements?
Our mantras are cooking the authentic old Delhi and we want to set a good example.