As a supporter of independent businesses, I feel a bit guilty each time I step in a chain, sometimes the location determines your need to succumb to the conglomerate run sanitised business, catering by numbers. Sometimes it’s the known quantity, the Big Mac effect, the Starbucks latte, when you know exactly what product you’re going to get once you order.
When abroad ignorance can be beneficial, not instantly recognising a chain allows you to appreciate the cleanliness, uniformity and attention to detail and professionalism a chain offers, you’ve found a gem! … until you come across the next outlet.To be fair, sanitised, safe and traceable are not bad words to use in a country where you generally worry about your gastronomic health with every meal.
With that in mind I ate some fairly good food at a Punjab themed eatery in Delhi, the bar was made to look like, or/ was made from a interstate truck. The lurid colouring and semi ornamental pots on the catering pass giving the place a nice eclectic feel.
Missi tandoori paratha – Introduced to this bread in Jaipur, it doesn’t surprise me that it may feature in a neighbouring states culinary repertoire as well. The distinctive yellow bread, studded with whole, flavour punch, spices was very well made with a stretchy, chewy texture.
Jeera dhania pulao – This fried onion, mustard and cumin seed studded rice dish was well flavoured, the buttery glazed basmati rice was almost a meal in itself along with the lovely spiced bread.
Amritsari aloo wadi – With the majority of street food available perhaps it wasn’t the smartest thing to order a vegetarian curry when eating indoors. It was delicious, with a sweet finish, yet leaving me lacking, I think because the price of a street side potato curry would have been significantly cheaper.
To drink, well there is the ubiquitous international (American) brands are here, mostly in the western leaning areas, I’m happier at least when the branded stores are Indian centric. The chai shop offered Indian style teas within the safe feeling of a chain situation. It’s kinda weird, after all it’s not like I have had any concerns with buying scalding hot liquid from strangers in the street.
It was nice being offered a choice to the content of the cup, rather than whatever poured out of the chai-wallah’s spout. Being able to amend the additions, the sweetness and the milk content was quite fun. I did find it strange I couldn’t try another variety of tea, just the standard, and excellent, Darjeeling.
One of my favourites was the Kulhad Chai tea – refers to the vessel not the saffron flavour, a nice change to the usual street side chai.