Chalo Dilli – The taste of Delhi Highway in Mumbai
It was a chilly afternoon, my palms felt cold as the wintry winds blew through the rickshaw forcing me to tug over my jacket as close to my neck as I could. “Hey,” I told my friend Minal, who was accompanying me ” Guess it’s just the perfect day to go to Delhi Highway, the rich old Dilli ka Khana tastes like old wine in the winters“. She nodded and we both went chatting about the usual stuff around our daily grinds, the next movie plan and the current hot sensation on Instagram.
Well, this was the same day when I had been invited to Delhi Highway at Marol, Andheri to taste of their delectable, rich food which is said to carry the original authentic taste of the food served in the capital city. Now, I have to admit this sure got me in a tizzy. It’s tough being born in a city(the fact that I am from Delhi) which offers such a rich diversity of cuisines, and boy do we love to eat! Delhi is a melting pot of various cultures and races who relish a variety of the gastronomic range there.
It was just 10 minutes to 2:00 pm as the tall glass facade and the huge ceiling happened to intimidate me as I entered Delhi Highway situated on the ground floor of the Times Square building which is a landmark here.
The interiors are rich, comfortable, dignified and impressive, all being synonymous with the staff who were polite and extremely hospitable. As we settled on our table, we were fascinated with the creamish-gold and aqua blue interiors, the menu was neatly laid out before us. Rajkumar, the waiter told us “Just select your beverage mam, because the iconic vegetarian Maharaja thali is already on the way, but before that starters first”. Apparently, the starter’s platter here gives you a taste of the must-try starters adopted from the streets of Delhi so it’s a must-have. I could literally see Minal scared like hell with the thought of so much food… as for me, the more…the better 🙂
The vegetarian Maharaja thali here consists of a welcome drink, 3 chaat varieties, 6 starters, 4 main course dishes, 2 types of bread, rice and 2 desserts…All at the cost of Rs. 650/-
By now, the Mocca Mint Slush and Jumping monkey (the beverages we had ordered) were there on the table. Being a true coffee and chocolate lover, I grabbed the Mocca Mint Slush and should say it was simply a nice blend of coffee and chocolate. With a single sprig of mint on top, this tall glass of mocktail looked adorable. I wish it had a bit more of the mint syrup since mint and chocolate blend like best friends…but I am not complaining here. It was like a better version of a cold coffee with more of that chocolate touch and a thicker version of it.
The starters were now on the table. We took a sip of the Jumping Monkey and began laying our hands on the starter platter. If you ask me, the Jumping Monkey was more like a banana milkshake but a milder version of it. I wish it was thicker though and had a little bit of more mango as well (coz mango is one of the ingredients here).
On the starters platter – there was pesto Paneer Tikka, Veg Seekh Kebab, Tandoori Mushroom, Hara Bhara Kebab, Naram Dil Kebab, and Makai Kebab. Along with this, there were also two shots of Pani Puri, and a small plate of Mattar kulcha. And then there was a bright colored green drink in a chai glass that Rajkumar kept at the table. We wondered at each other what it was. It tempted us both. As I grabbed the glass and had the first sip, I should say it was successful in giving me the first kick for the day. This was fresh, acting as a cooling agent, with just the right amount of sweetness and consistency, superbly pleasant in aroma, it was almost like a blessing from God, such a dreamy Kiwi drink. Yes, this was made from Kiwi and probably was the best from this fruit that I have ever had in my life. It was the welcome drink here and is called the Kiwi Snow. It comes with the thali, and I bet if you are suffering from a bad hangover or getting through a heartbreak, this drink can mend way in more than one. Even better than the mocktails we were served.
We began with the Pani Puri and then moved onto the Mattar kulcha. The Pani Puri shots were nothing extraordinary but there was nothing that was on the bad side. Ahh!! the Mattar kulcha was warmly comforting. I wish it was the same kulcha that you get on the streets of Delhi though, this was the ready-made bread you get in the market. But the mattar were simply like how your mom would make at home. Not loaded with oil, yet you could literally get a flavor of each of the ingredients in it. The best thing was it wasn’t too spicy so you could enjoy the flavor liberally without having to sip water after every bite.
And after this, it was starters time. Out of all, me any Minal simply cherished every bite of the Paneer Tikka and Tandoori mushroom. They were undoubtedly the highlight of this platter and helped to satisfy our hungry tummies which had been empty for a while. The Paneer Tikka was soft, large big cubes generously made in an olive-colored pesto sauce and had a mild yet tantalizing taste about it, as we enjoyed it with the mint and coriander chutney, we hoped there were a few more pieces of it though.
I personally don’t like mushrooms and you will never find them at my plate, but here I had to give them a try. And here goes the one-word verdict – astounding!! Yes, they deserved applause for the way they were conceptualized, made with perfection and served to us. I couldn’t help but ask Rajkumar how they were made – In a few words, he did explain that these are marinated in a Tandoori Masala and then baked. I was blown away by the taste of it, it was like the hot and sexy dish out of the platter having us grooving over it.
The Makai Kebab and Hara Bhara Kebab didn’t leave us with a frown either. Not too spicy and being soft and crunchy as well, they had been made fresh and were true to the taste. The Veg Seekh kebab though was too hard and it didn’t appease me. It could have been better, I thought, though, when eaten with the chutney it helped uplift the flavor.
Half an hour into this, and it was time for the main course………Rajkumar gave me a generous smile as our neatly cleaned out plates were taken away from the table and the Parathas made their way in. Noticing my deep inherent love for food, Rajkumar got us Parathas too as a separate serving before the thali. We had asked for the Mooli Parathas. Delhi highway is known to serve Parathas like how they serve in Delhi, exquisite t in flavor and almost Godlike. They were served with the Dal Makhni, Chole and the raita on a classy black slate. What a delight the sight was!
The Parathas had a stunning copper-gold tinge on them, they were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. As the coriander and the Mooli flakes lay on them, the Parathas looked like sunflowers with fresh drops of dew on them. These Parathas were not stuffed with Mooli like how we eat at home, but the best part was that they were everything that you would want to gratify and amuse your belly and soul.
The Chole and the Dal Makhni were served in copper coated bowls and they looked every bit of the Chole and the Dal which are made with just a lot of love …..As I had the Chole with the Paratha, it was just enough to tell me how the best food we eat is often something which is simple in approach yet powerful in its entirety. The Chole were well-cooked, without a heavy dose of chilies or the garam masala (as how it is usually). There was no trace of any excess of oil floating anywhere and I could still enjoy the tanginess, and the playful flavors of the ingredients like the Chole masala and the Jeera along with others.
As we both took turns to have the Dal Makhni, we were in for another surprise. Like the Chole, the Dal Makhni, blew us over. It just hit all the notes right on the chord, perfection is an understatement here. You would want to rush to the kitchen, fill up your bags with the Dal Makhni and take it all home. It was creamy yet not heavy, it was mild yet so wealthy in taste, I could see each grain of the Dal perfectly merged in the gravy. The cream added to it was just in the right proportion for the spices to stand out and yet gelled with the creaminess without any glitch.
Ahhh…we were almost on the ninth cloud!
As the thali arrived by now, the neat display took me over. There was Paneer Lababdar, Kadai ke Achari Aloo, Pindi Chana, Dal Delhi Highway, Tandoori roti and Kulcha, raita and salad, Dum Biryani and Jalebi and Kesari Phirni in desserts.
The best thing about the Tandoori roti was that it was manageable, it didn’t take us a lot of effort to pull out pieces from it. The kulcha was bright looking, fresh and warm to the core. With the chopped coriander and white sesame seeds over it, it looked every bit like a glowing new bride.
The Chole and the Dal were the same that that were served with the Paratha. The Paneer Lababdar, Kadai ke Achari Aloo and the Dum Biryani were garnished carefully and were pleasing to the eye. The nice soft, big cubes of the Paneer neatly submerged in the dark orange gravy, the round pieces of the Aloo making friends with the Achari gravy and the Dum Biryani beautifully blended with the veggies carrying a yellowish softness, all gave a feel of the highest standards of quality and care that was taken to make them and present them as well. The Paneer Lababdar was luscious, spicy and tangy, the Kadai ke Achari Aloo was deep red in color, it gave me a taste of the mustard and desi tomatoes, the pickled taste of it was affluent and filthy rich in texture.
The Biryani was fresh, the rice grains held each other separate and they gladly mingled with the veggies in the bowl. A few spoonfuls of it, and it was equally enjoyed by me and Minal along with the Dal and the Chole. Though I wished it was a little deeper in flavor and a little spicy, but given the accompanying flavors with it in the plate…..it was just apt as an addition here.
Coming to the desserts, the Jalebi looked like an adorable piece of dessert in the copper bowl and the Phirni was like those bright yellow mustard fields with the strands of saffron like the golden sunlight falling over them. The first look of the Jalebi and I wondered – the fact that we all love it, that nothing on the planet looks as yum and unique as these entangled circles of pure joy, why is this not our national sweet dish? it was perfect coil shape, crispy, sweet, comforting and very addictive. With the perfect yellowish-orange tinge, they were simply melting in the mouth and for a moment I simply couldn’t resist licking my fingers in full public view here.
As for the Phirni, it was milky, sweet and aromatic, the aroma of the sweet and amiable saffron filled up my nostrils with the first spoon itself. A well-made Phirni should be creamy without being too sweet and showcase the flavors of rice, milk and a hint of cardamom and, saffron. This was exactly like that. Garnished with slivered almonds, and served in copper bowls, it had both of us fighting for every spoon of it.
As if the Jalebi and the Phirni were not enough, we now had the Moong Dal Halwa and the Shahi Tukda as well. We both wondered how do we even dig in it, our tummies almost felt like expansive balloons ready to explode…but alas, within 5 minutes, I was all ready with my spoon to have spoonfuls of both.
Moong Dal Halwa was straight out of a fairytale…it almost left me blushing. Served in generous proportion, with a lovely deep brown color and garnished with slivers of almond, it was soft in texture and kind to the soul…with every spoonful I could imagine the way those skinless split green gram must have blended with the ghee, sugar, khoya and dry fruits to out as a splendid dessert!
As for the Shahi Tukda, it was well-prepared and fit for the King. It was amazingly rich, with a generous amount of the dry fruits and the saffron added that extra zing to it. As I dug into the Tukda and took out a piece, I could gauge the affluence of this dessert within seconds…Though I wish it was a little less sweet but the purity with which it was made and the supremacy and excellence of it marred away the extra sweetness. I tell you…..you will be reminded of paradise as you eat every bite of it!
Delhi Highway was everything royal, it had a certain idealism and impeccability about it…With the lush interiors, the amicable staff and the deeply gratifying food…you are bound to be a loyalist here for life! It reminded of me of every nook and corner of Delhi where I have spent some precious years…
What’s best here – The generous portion of the food and the absolutely crowning taste! I perhaps had the best Thursday this given winter……
Ambience: 8/10 Food: 9/10 Staff: 7/10 Overall: 9/10
Address: A4, Ground Floor, B Wing, Times Square, Andheri East, Marol, Mumbai
What we had:
Jumping Monkey and Mocca Mint Slush, Mooli Paratha, Maharaja Vegetarian thali, Moong Dal Halwa
Price for two: Rs.1,200/- (approx)