I wasn’t aware of Indore being a foodaholic city until the moment I reached there and saw Sev-Poha-Jalebi shops all around the city. The people of Indore are known as “Indoris” and they call themselves “Khawda” – a term that means they can eat a lot and at any time of the day, as you can literally get food at any time of the day.
A Little on Indore
A city that hones pride for different food varieties, and cleanliness. It was ranked first in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Survey – 2017 for amazing waste management, and cleanliness initiatives. Recently it also topped the airport service quality ranking in Asia Pacific region.
It is the only city in India that’s home to both an IIM (established in 1996) and an IIT (2009) that makes it lively because of the young crowd being in majority. It is also the commercial, and booming IT capital of Madhya Pradesh.
56 Dukaan (Shops)
As the name suggests, it is a street consisting of 56 food shops (obviously more than that) where you will find cuisines from every part of India.
I love Iranian food. When I worked in IT, my 2 Iranian colleagues and I would order from an Iranian families home delivery service once a week.
During my last week at the office, I told the guys, “We’re ordering Iranian every day this week!” That was a tasty week.
The Iranian Cafe in Pune isn’t strictly Iranian though. It’s more a Parsi Cafe (the Parsis came to India from Iran). I’m a sucker for Parsi food too because it’s very similar to Iranian but with a slight Indian twist.
The area I was staying in Pune was close to the NH7 Weekender Music Festival I was attending. Within walking distance there were very few clean places to eat though. But there were not one but two Irani Cafes. So I ended up having breakfast at both.
I first stepped foot in Britannia & Co. in Mumbai’s historical and beautiful Fort area with two Parsi friends the very first time I visited India. Back then, I had no idea what Parsi food was, but I was about to find out.
Read on to find out what makes this my favourite restaurant in all of India.
The Parsi people came to India from Iran over 300 years ago. They initially settled in the little-visited, but incredibly charming, Portuguese Union Territory of Daman & Diu at the bottom of Gujarat. Hence why Parsis around India and the world still speak Gujarati.
Many continued onto Mumbai, settled there, and some started Parsi cafes. Mumbai was once buzzing with 500 Parsi cafes, but the majority have now closed due to increasing rent.
These days, Parsi food is hard to come by but has been rejuvenated recently by the very good, but not as good as Brittania & Co., SodaBottleopenerWala chain in India. If you can’t get to Mumbai, go there for a similar experience.
Parsi Trivia: The most famous Parsi outside of India is… Freddy Mercury from Queen. He studied in Mumbai, before moving to England.
When you dine at Britannia, the charismatic owner Boman Kohinoor will likely introduce himself to your table. When I first met him he was 91 years old, now, on my latest trip, he’s 96 and telling me he’s going to beat the current record holder to 150 years.
His secret? Not retiring! You’ll find him there during their opening hours (only Mon-Sat 12-4pm) telling stories to customers about his food, life, and long relationship with the Royal Family of England – photo evidence included. Chatting with him is a treat.
Parsi food is closer to Iranian food than Indian. Parsi cooking doesn’t require 10 different spices, they use more straightforward flavours but pair them with original accompaniments. Like Palau and berries, chicken curry and fried potatoes, or rose syrup, vermicelli, and sweet basil seeds.
These are three Parsi delicacies you cannot leave Britannia without devouring:
Chicken or Mutton Berry Palau: Fragrant saffron rice with a large helping of thick and sweet chicken curry in the middle, topped with dried sweet berries, fried onion, and cashews. If you’re thinking “why berries?” You just have to trust me and try it, the combination is something special.
Sali Chicken: A light meaty flavoured chicken curry topped with a ton of fried potato sticks.
Bombay Duck: It has nothing to do with duck! It’s a small local lizardfish that is crumbed then deep fried. They’re cooked bone-in, but the bones are soft and edible.
You’re going to need to take 2 friends to finish all that food.
Price wise it’s expensive for India, but for the quality, taste, and quantity you will not be disappointed. The service and the unique food will have to return every time you visit Mumbai, I guarantee it!
If you’re craving to make Sali Chicken at home, the good news is Boman Kohinoor has shared the recipe.
If you didn’t know, I crowned Britannia & Co. the best restaurant in India. After you eat there, if you’re like me, you’ll be craving to make Sali Chicken at home too.
Thanks to CNN’s interview with Britannia’s owner Boman Kohinoor, we have the real Sali Chicken recipe straight from the man himself. Unfortunately, Mr Kohinoor has not given the actual recipe! I made it, and it tastes close, but it’s missing something. It’s not Britannia & Co. Sali Chicken, but it’s tasty and very healthy anyway!
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 large finely chopped onions
A tiny piece of ginger
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of garam masala
Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds
7 or so curry leaves
6 cloves of garlic
1 kilo of boneless chicken thighs, 10 pieces or so, cut into thirds
2 tablespoons of oil
3 cups of thin and crispy fried potato sticks (known as Lachha)
This is the closest to plain potato sticks that I could find – Haldiram’s Aloo Lachha. You may have to some searching for plain lachha which is what we want for this recipe.
Make a thick paste out of the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cinnamon and turmeric and set aside.
Drop curry leaves and cumin seeds in a pan with hot oil and stir slightly. After a few seconds, when the seeds start to splutter, add the chopped onions and chillies, let it cook and occasionally stir for about five minutes. Add the spices and stir for a minute or so.
Now bring in the chicken and stir in the pan till it’s well coated with the spices. Pour two cups of water, add salt and bring to boil. Cover with a lid, reduce heat and let the chicken cook for half an hour.
Uncover the dish and let it simmer in low flame for another thirty minutes until the chicken is soft and tender.
In a deep plate, place the chicken and arrange a nice, thick layer of potato sticks around the edges or on top. Serve piping hot with juicy lime wedges and onion.
The best way to describe Pahargunj is “hell on earth.” Along with the rest of Old Delhi, it’s the worst place you can possibly stay in India. It features drug addicts shooting up on the side of the road, prostitution, thieves, scammers, rats, and every other nasty you can imagine.
Such a negative description is honest, but during my latest stay in Paharganj, I’ve really made an effort to try and find some beauty in this place.
I went out looking for the best food, and on those walks, I made a point to stay off the main road and take the back streets. The backstreets, away from the hawkers, traffic jams, and madness is where I found the real Paharganj.
While you make your way to these restaurants make an effort to take the back streets. You’ll see kids doing their homework, young men working out in outdoor gyms hidden from the main road, kids going to school, the rear kitchens of the restaurants on the main street, and so much more. Paharganj has beauty if you seek it.
Darbar – $
This is the tastiest and cleanest place I’ve found to eat in Paharganj. I surprisingly never see tourists eating there though, it’s usually just filled with Indian businessmen.
Darbar is perfect for breakfast. They serve all the traditional Delhi dishes such as Chole Bhature and Aloo Paratha. All for very reasonable prices considering the cleanliness of this restaurant.
Flavours – $
When I stayed in Paharganj for a month straight once, Flavours was my morning go to. I’d order two aloo paratha, chai, and 2 boiled eggs. They serve authentic and delicious food but just check their cleanliness is up to your standards first. I never had an issue with the food, but more weary travellers may be put off by the roadside kitchen setup (although they have an indoor dining area).
Sita Ram Diwan Chand – $
Sita Ram Diwan Chand has achieved legendary status across Delhi as the best place to eat the Delhi breakfast staple Chole Bhature (chickpea curry and deep fried bread). While it’s definitely not the best Chole Bhature in Delhi, it’s certainly decent and a good place to eat in Paharganj. I’ve written previously about where the tastiest and most authentic Chole Bhature is in Delhi.
Sam’s Cafe – $$
Sam’s Cafe is a favourite rooftop hangout above the Vivek Hotel in the main bazaar. The food here is a little overpriced and bland (that tends to be the case when a restaurant has a menu that serves every cuisine possible), but the rooftop setting is nicely lit up at night.
Re Cafe – $$
Situated below the bright white and yellow Bloomrooms hotel, Re Cafe serves up good continental and Indian food. They serve fish too which is harder to find in Delhi, being so far from the sea (and a reason I don’t eat it often here). It’s also a good choice for breakfast, with their egg paratha being a standout.
Al-Sameer – $$
I’d been walking past Al-Sameer every time I’d come to Paharganj. It never looked that clean to me, but you can see their chef cooking their Mughal dishes as you walk past. Every time I’d look at what he was cooking, and every time it looked amazing.
So I finally gave Al-Sameer try. Turns out it was clean enough and the food was as it looks – traditional tasty Mughal food. Forget about eating vegetarian here, they specialise in non-vegetarian.
Make your own food
Healthy breakfast food isn’t Paharganj’s speciality. After too many days eating oily Indian food, it tends to make you feel very bloated. That’s when it’s time to go back to basics. In my case, I visit the Mother Dairy store and pick up yoghurt and plain chaach (unsweetened yoghurt drink) and have that with muesli which can be found at Patanjali stores and larger grocery stores.
Rituraj: bland and overpriced and there was an insect baked into my naan bread!