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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

I love Gurgaon’s cuisine: Enjoy a meal at the food capital of NCR

From a precious few food and booze joints, there has been an explosion of eating out and takeway options in the city over the years

gurgaon Updated: May 30, 2017 13:56 IST
Colin Fernandes
Colin Fernandes
From roadside food trucks to micro-breweries, there are a lot of options in the city and customers’ tastes have been expanding to demand and devour a variety of cuisine from around the country and the world.
From roadside food trucks to micro-breweries, there are a lot of options in the city and customers’ tastes have been expanding to demand and devour a variety of cuisine from around the country and the world.(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

In the year 2000, when I landed my first job right out of college in what is now Millennium City, the town was a mind-numbingly rural area with mostly retired armed forces personnel and hectares of mustard fields. The all-night cafeteria at the call centre where I worked had colleagues from around the country tucking into insipid food sourced from an airline caterer.

Our only respite from stale buns, watery pasta and yesterday’s dessert was Zaika at Iffco Chowk, which was open (read: served booze) 24 hours, the old faithful Nirula’s in Sector 14 and Dana Choga, right next to that. The street stalls of momos/kebabs/idli sambhar outside the office campus were barely palatable; the fiery sauce keeping us in the toilet more often than where we should have been – in our seats with fake American accents.

But that was then. Now you can find just about every cuisine known to mankind within a 10-km radius – if you take into account the DLF phases and sectors 56, 29 and 14. Meanwhile ,the momo-kebab-idli stalls have moved into swanky malls, Dana Choga is now DCK (that’s Dana Choga Kitchen) and Nirula’s is nowhere.

Today, everything from wraps and rolls, pizzas and thalis, burgers and littis, thukpas and pastas, biryanis and risottos to sushi and sorpotel is available. The streets are abuzz with shikanji (lemon-jeera-soda) vendors in summer and with shakarganji (sweet potato) carts in the winter. The sheer variety of takeaway is so much that you could order from a different outlet every evening of the week and not eat the same food for a month! If you live in Gurgaon, you can be sure to have a few takeaway pamphlets from a brand-new outlet with your newspaper pretty much every morning.

Of course, there are the star eateries with better PR and the much-publicised resto-bars in the Sector 29 complex that came into focus only because they were supposed to be within 500 metres of the national highway. Sure, there are the Delhi stalwarts and international chains who have moved to Gurgaon, but there is also a home-grown burger chain trying to make its mark.

There is even a Korean place serving up massive portions everyday and the NCR’s only Goan restaurant is still doing its thing in an expanded space.

But it’s the small, niche players that really stand out – Zaika has been replaced on the favourite’s list by the Muradabadi chicken biryani guy a few doors down (no booze but what a marinade!). There is also a Kashmiri place near the Iffco Chowk metro station that is definitely worth a visit.

The latest phenomenon that’s taking Gurgaon by storm, however, is the squads of food trucks – although their clientele tends to change with the weather. This passing heat wave must be murder for them, but hopefully they will bounce back once the monsoon arrives. The range of menus and service available at these joints rivals many established restaurants. The other enterprise that seemed to have been going great guns was the booming micro-brewery fad, But it seems to have fizzled out. Maybe Gurgaonwallas still prefer drinking at home — or rather — in their cars.

(Colin Fernandes is a former journalist and author of Viva Santiago.)

First Published: May 30, 2017 13:52 IST