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Dish in a wall

They’re not too fancy, but these two little restaurants have the most authentic Uzbek and Mediterranean food you can find. Ruchira Hoon reports.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2009 22:23 IST
Ruchira Hoon

Karavan Restaurant: Uzbek, Russian

The camel decorations on the wall have been flown down straight from Uzbekistan. As have the crockery and the chef. They can’t serve the Kovurma Palov, since they’ve run out of Uzbeki rice. Which, by the way, is being flown down from Uzbekistan as you read this. That’s how authentic Karavan is.

Located at the carpet hub of Delhi in Lado Sarai, it’s not hard to find this restaurant which serves Uzbek, Russian and Indian food.

Done up very simply in red, the place has a warm, lived in feel for a restaurant that’s barely two months old.

The menu features salads, kebabs, stewed meats and mantis, all with the option of vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We started our meal with a tall glass of cold Kompot (Rs 50) — a drink made by boiling dried fruits, and waited for Suzma Salad (Rs 100) — a yogurt-based cucumber and radish salad, and the veg Samsa (Rs 250) to arrive. Stuffed with potatoes, pumpkin, onion and zeera, the samsa was quite delicious, thanks to its filo-like pastry shell. The salad was served with warm Uzbeki naan, a thick pizza base like roti.

Ruslan Naimov, the owner’s brother recommended the rest of the meal to us — chicken kebab (Rs 250) hot on skewers was a definite hit. Besides chicken, you have the option of ordering minced, liver and beef kebabs. We then ate the manitas (Rs 200) that is, Russian momos stuffed with either vegetables or meat, steamed or deep fried. Stewed chicken (Rs 400) — whole pieces of chicken with Uzbeki flavours and grilled to perfection, followed and that’s when we realised that, this was the end of our meal. Because sadly, they do not serve any dessert.

For the Indian palate, Russian/ Uzbeki may be a little bland. But when served with generosity and enthusiastic
hospitality, it’s hard not to enjoy the meal.

Mediza: Mediterranean
The walls of the restaurant are purple, as is the table linen. Mediza, a restaurant in Lajpat Nagar is an airy, dimly lit place with hospitable staff and excellent food.

We began our dinner with the vegetarian mezze platter (Rs 460), which was by far one of the nicest mezze’s I’ve had in Delhi. The hummus was not very spicy, but the babaganoush and the tzatziki were both excellent. Served with pita bread, kibbeh and samsa, the platter could easily be shared by three people.

For the main course, and on the owner’s recommendation, we tried the Mediza Sole (Rs 345). The sole was fresh and grilled very well and the sauce complemented it perfectly. Also recommended: the Fish or the Chicken tagine (Rs 295).

The baklava (Rs 175), though a little sweet was really excellent dripping with honey and the Umm Ali (Rs 175), an Egyptian milk-based dessert with dry fruits was also quite fantastic.

The chef, turns out, had worked in just about every Mediterranean restaurant about town — Spirit, Baci, Qash Qai, Shalom. With that kind of training, any cook worth his salt could make this place a runaway success.