Indian food is always delicious. Some foreigners assume that Indian food is either always too spicy or too sweet. But nothing can be further from the truth. In a country of 28 states, each having its own distinct culture and food, you get to experience a variation in the dishes that you might hardly find in another country. Tasting these local cuisines is a savoury adventure in itself.
If you’re a foodie, then India is the place for you. But it might seem a little impractical to travel to each and every state of the country to taste their delicacy (although not unrealistic if you’re a traveller at heart). Delhi, being the capital state, has an amalgamation of the varied culture spanning the country. That’s why it has government canteens or rather, state canteens where you can eat the local dishes of a state and that too at a very reasonable price. Sounds like a good deal? Read on to know which ones are the best.
1. Andhra Bhawan, Connaught Place
This has to be the most popular government canteen in Delhi, all thanks to its delicious food.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the states in South India. It’s no news that the South Indian states are famous for their local cuisines. Some of their infamous delicacies include dosa, idli and vada. You will find these in all South Indian restaurants, and that’s the case here as well. All their recipes include rice in some form, be it in idli or just plain rice.
But what the canteen is famous for are none of these dishes. Instead, they are famous for the “Thali” that they serve. When you look at a menu, a Thali usually means a large plate consisting of all the major dishes of a state and served in small quantities. This is also the perfect option because you get to taste everything in one order. The canteen’s vegetarian Thali includes rice, papad, curd, many vegetarian curries, rasam and much more. The best part is that you can ask for a free refill as many times as you want. The Thali costs Rs. 120 which is quite affordable when considering the quantity of the food.
If you are a hardcore non-vegetarian, worry not, because they have dishes like Mutton Curry and Chicken Fry that are equally delicious. Try it out!
2. Banga Bhavan
If you’re a big fan of fish, then don’t hesitate in going to the Banga Bhavan. This state Bhavan belongs to West Bengal.
Non-vegetarian dishes, especially fish curries, are specialities of the Bengalis. Therefore, you’ll find plenty of options in recipes here. They prepare their food in the traditional Bengal style, and it always comes out as palatable. Try out their staple dish; steamed rice with fish curries. There are a lot of fish recipes to choose from. Some of the most popular are Fish Paturi and Sorse Hilsa.
Also, don’t forget to try out their mutton curry because you’ll be drooling over it. Finish off your meal with the famous Mishti Doi. It’s basically sweetened yoghurt but in an Indian style. It’s a staple dessert of Bengal and provides a perfect ending to a lovely meal.
3. Goa Niwas
Also addressed as Viva-O-Viva, this place has the atmosphere and the food to start off your weekend on a high note.
The canteen is clean and has a cafe-like look to it. With colourful table clothes adorning the tables, you’ll feel like getting into a restaurant of Goa itself.
Adding to all that zeal is their fantastic food. They have a whiteboard in the canteen with the speciality of that particular day written on it. You can try that out. If not, the Butter Garlic Prawn and the Prawn Peri-Peri are the most popular here.
Also, don’t pay your bill without tasting their yummy chocolate pudding.
4. Kerala House
One of my personal favourites, Kerala House, serves you authentic dishes of the state and it’s all worth your money.
You can try out their Thali which is quite similar to the Andhra Bhawan including rice, rasam, papad, etc. You also get payasam which is the signature dessert of Kerala.
Apart from this, Kerala is infamous for its Malabar porotta bread (made from wheat flour) and beef curry. Since beef has been banned in India, you might opt for other non-vegetarian dishes which are equally satisfying.
The best thing about Kerala House is that their food is cheap. Their Thali only costs Rs. 50. If you’re a foodie, then Kerala House will keep your tummy and your wallet happy.
5. Assam Bhavan
The North Eastern states of India have their own distinctive culture and languages. This unique trait is seen in their food as well. Their cuisine consists of some of the most authentic and appetising dishes ever.
The menu might confuse you, but your safest bet is choosing their Parampara Thali. You will get all the major dishes in there. Before starting off with your food, you will be served with an Assamese drink prepared in their style. Their dishes are truly a fusion of spicy, sour and sweet that will activate your taste buds immediately.
You get spicy lentil curry and mashed potatoes. At the same time, you’re served with their delicious Duck curry and fish, which is cooked using a charcoal stove. This gives an earthy taste to the fish and results in a mouth-watering meal that will definitely make your day.
If you love to experiment with your food, then come over to Assam Bhavan.