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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Diverse delights

Pankaj Mullick, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 30, 2012
First Published: 23:37 IST(30/11/2012) | Last Updated: 01:41 IST(1/12/2012)

In a country as diverse as India and a capital taking on increasingly cosmopolitan hues, this was bound to happen. The city is witnessing a serious push from patrons and restaurants alike for authentic regional cuisines.

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Take one of the newest entrants on the scene serving Naga cuisine. Dzukou - the Rooftop Tribal Kitchen, in Hauz Khas Village, started some six months ago with home-cooked Naga food as its sole offering.

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"We get customers from all ethnicities and nationalities. I feel Indians are as ready to explore cuisines from other Indian cultures as they are from other countries," says the owners of Dzukou, who pride themselves on using organic produce and exotic Naga ingredients to create flavours they were brought up on.

Delhi has been a big fan of south Indian cuisine, albeit the fast food variety, which lacks authenticity. Zambar fills that gap and opens up the southern coastal states to the north-Indian palette. "Zambar is more than 'sambhar' spelt with a Z. It takes you on a culinary journey along the western coast of India, from the Konkan Coast of Karnataka, into the 'mystic' beaches & backwaters of Kerala, onto the rugged seashores of Tamil Nadu, into the 'fiery' Andhra shorelines," says executive chef Arun Kumar TR. Zambar goes beyond and delves into foods from different communities - Udipi, Coorgi, and Mangalorean dishes from Karnataka; Syrian, Moplah and Nair meals from Kerala, just for example.

Another hot favourite in Delhi has been Awadhi flavours but you'll find variations in taste (as well as quality). Dum Affairs in South Extension is a sincere attempt at bringing the celebrated taste of Lucknow in all its authenticity, with its head chef having cut his teeth at Dum Pukht, Bukhara and Saffron - some of the most respected vanguards of Awadhi.

Making a clever play is Rang de Basanti Dhaba, which presents Punjabi cuisine with a highway twist. Makki di roti and saag sit comfortably aside tandoori dishes, as do several traditional beverages.

Vegetarians are usually hard-pressed to find quality options but Vega in Lado Sarai (also at Connaught Place) offers authentic north Indian vegetarian dishes to the discerning.


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