Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
New Delhi, India
December 15, 2012
Like the other food stalls at Dilli Haat, the Meghalaya stall (run by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation) is pretty barebones: there are a handful of tables and chairs out on the paved area that is shared with the surrounding food stalls. Some tables have beach umbrellas above; some don’t. There are no table cloths. The napkins are paper. The plates, more often than not, are foil-lined paper. It gets crowded, especially at lunchtime.
Fortunately, we got to the food stall (which is named Shillong, after the capital of Meghalaya) just as a table was vacated, so we got a relatively comfortable place—away from the hot sun beyond, and away from the flies which were buzzing around another vacant table. A waiter brought us the menu, which is fairly extensive—if you’re looking for Indian Chinese food. Vegetable Manchurian, sweet and sour chicken, chowmein, fried rice, and similar well-loved dishes that are so much a staple of this peculiar blend of cuisines dominate.
Thankfully, Shillong also offers a small selection of Meghalayan specialities, less than ten dishes in all. Looking around at nearby tables, my husband and I noticed that portion sizes seemed pretty huge, so we ordered two dishes to share: a jastem (turmeric rice), and the doh neiiong, for which we’d come. Just as we were about to tell the waiter that was all, my husband saw another waiter going past with a steaming bowl of thukpa for another table. This isn't a Meghalayan dish; it's srt of pan-North-East Indian/Tibetan/Nepalese/Bhutanese. And it's an old favourite of ours. This particular bowl of thukpa looked so good, that we ordered a mixed thukpa too.
The thukpa arrived at our table, one large steaming bowl of it, in about five minutes. I’ve had thukpa before, dozens of times—it’s very popular in Delhi, along with another Tibetan import, momos. But I’ve never had thukpa as good as at the Meghalaya food stall. This is a hearty broth, chockfull of noodles, pieces of cooked chicken, roast pork, fried egg, shredded cabbage, carrot, and green bell peppers. Unlike most thukpas we’d had before in Delhi, this one tasted very fresh. The veggies were crisp and fresh, the garnish of coriander leaves perfect—and the broth had a nice hit of red chilli sauce in it. Enough to impart lots of flavour, not enough to make us yelp for something sweet.
We were midway through the thukpa when the jastem and the doh neiiong were served up too. The jastem (turmeric rice, as described on the menu), was a fried rice, mildly flavoured with fried onions and garlic and (I assume) some powdered turmeric. It was delicious on its own, and was also a great accompaniment to the doh neiiong. The gravy for this was a lovely dark blackish-green sauce, spicy but not too much, and with the elusive and delicate flavour of black seeds. The pork pieces were very well-cooked and tender, though—as in most of North-East India—very fatty.
Our bill at Shillong was Rs 400, inclusive of taxes (we’d also ordered two fruit beers—non-alcoholic aerated fruity drinks that are quite popular at Dilli Haat). This may not be a fancy place, but the food was delicious, and we were full to the brim. Excellent value for money.
From journal More than Murgh Makhani
June 5, 2011
July 20, 2005
Where to eat was a big question, with around 20 or more fabulous choices. In the end, it was decided that we would have each course at a different stall. So it was ‘momos in soup’ from Nagaland, followed by spicy ‘papdi chaat’ of Delhi – the main course consisting of Kashmiri ‘Gushtaba’ with nan – another main course of Hyderabadi biryanee and kebabs, followed by sweets at the Rajasthan and Bengal stalls. It was like getting a glimpse of the entire country in 4 to 5 hours flat.
From journal Delhi in the new light
July 18, 2002
The stalls are leased to artisans from across India for 15 days at a time, and they set up shop with whatever they’ve on sale- a range which is really extensive and pretty representative of India’s vast store of handicrafts. Stunning textiles- tie-and-dye fabric, embroideries, silks, and more-, carpets, terracotta, basketry, bamboo and cane furniture, tribal art, handmade paper- all of it turns up in Dilli Haat’s many stalls- and always at great prices: you’d probably pay double the amount for the same thing elsewhere.
And anybody who comes to Dilli Haat to go shopping ends up, after a hectic bout of haggling, at the food stalls which spread across the back half of the complex, beyond the handicraft stalls. Each state of India- and the country has 29 of them- has a stall here, serving traditional food. The food stalls are all pretty bare-bones: just a brick-and-cement kiosk, devoid of any decoration except perhaps a few tatty state tourism posters- and seating consists of plastic tables and chairs which are scattered across the courtyards around. You sit at a table, wander up to the kiosk you want to eat from, place your order, and wait for it to be brought- and what’s good is that if you’re in a group, all of you can actually place orders at different kiosks, sit at a central table, and eat together.
With all that variety (29 states- and each with a distinct culinary style?!) you might have a bit of trouble deciding what you want to eat. So here’s a very brief summary of what I’d put on a must-eat list:
Maharashtra state stall: Try their sabudana khichri- a delightfully mild risotto-like dish concocted from sago, ground peanuts, fried potatoes and ginger. A similar croquette made from sago, called sabudana vada, is also excellent.
West Bengal state stall: Check out their fish roll- a fish croquette which comes piping hot, with tomato sauce on the side. And boy, if you think this is gonna be anything like what your nearby café serves up, you’re in for a surprise- the Bengali fish roll comes well-flavoured with onions, cilantro, garlic and lots of spice. Their Mughlai paratha- a flaky, ghee-laden bread stuffed with spiced ground mutton- is also good, though it’s rather too greasy. For afters, try the mishti doi- an earthen cupful of creamy yoghurt sweetened with date-palm sugar.
Mizoram state stall: These guys turn out perhaps the best momos in town- delicately steamed dumplings stuffed with lightly spiced pork, mutton or chicken (pork’s the best, but may be better to avoid if your stomach isn’t too strong). It comes with a bowlful of very light broth, and a paste of coarsely ground red chillies on the side. Make your own combination- as spicy or mild as you like!
Rajasthan state stall: The Rajasthan state stall has some truly great stuff, and one of their best dishes is the potato-and-onion kachori. It’s a large (just slightly smaller than a quarter-plate) fried pastry which is stuffed with a spicy potato and onion mix. It’s served with a hefty dollop of mint chutney and tamarind chutney on top.
That’s four of the best- four of my favourites, at least. The others serve some really good food too- Jammu and Kashmir has excellent gushtaba with rice; Tamilnadu dishes up fabulous dosas, and Kerala’s fish curry with rice, though fairly fiery, is out of this world. Try a little bit from here and a little bit from there- but whatever you do, don’t succumb to the temptation of consuming the `Western’ food most of the stalls sell- the sandwiches, salads, and burgers are invariably awful.
On the whole, a filling meal, no matter which stall you eat at, shouldn’t come for more than Rs 150 per person. Alcohol isn’t served in Dilli Haat, but you could try the ubiquitous `fruit beer’- a fruity, bubbly and oversweet product. Make sure that they give you a bottled drink, though- in some stalls they simply add water (from God knows where) to a fruit beer concentrate.
Entry tickets to Dilli Haat are Rs 10 per adult, Rs 7 per child. The complex is open from 11 in the morning to 10 at night, but most souvenir-sellers start shutting down their shops by 8.30 or 9.
From journal Dining in Delhi