Dilliwala's may feel no visit to Delhi is complete without visiting Chandni Chowk, Bengali Market, Janpath, Sarojni Nagar et al but I feel no visit of mine to Delhi is complete without visiting Khan Market. Let me start by telling you a little about Khan Market - an upscale market in South Delhi where you see all the hoity-toity strutting their "stuff" (read: wearing designer shades (especially, in the night), dressed impeccably in starched cottons in the summer or crepes and silks in the winter, toting around their LV's, Gucci's, Fendi's or sporting their BMW's, Porche's - I think you get the picture). It is also always dotted by expats or people like you and me who land up there with a urge to satisfy their food pangs! Delhi is very brand conscious and generally people are always put together. You won't find the grungy look here except on campuses... Khan Market is full of expensive home stores, expensive designer & non-designer boutiques, jewellers, upscale grocers, gadget shops for the men, bookstores & imported magazines kiosks, kiddie stores and even a pet shop but most importantly it's a foodies delight!
It has not one but two outlets of the Big Chill Cafe (mentioned in an earlier blog of mine), a Barista or McDonald's for the less adventurous, Cafe Turtle and of course the ''best kebabs''. I think my kebab story got a little side-lined earlier but I am back on track and you cannot leave Delhi without visiting Khan Chacha's ("KC") or Salim's Kebabs ("SK")- I find them both equally good. The chicken tikka roll at KC's and malai tikka roll and mutton kakori roll at SK's are too die for. Mind you, you can go with just plate of kebab's also - but the rolls are just easier to eat and are perfect for people like me who cannot handle spices too well. The 'rolls' are actually kebab's, chutney and onions (perfect accompaniments for kebab's) wrapped in Indian bread. Also, please do not get put-off by the exteriors of KC's or SK's. Located in the middle lane of Khan Market, there is a stark difference between all the upscale places here and these kebab joints. They are both in a small garage like space with 6-8 men huddled inside wrapping, grilling and packing the kebabs. Since there is no sit down place outside (unless you consider the odd motorbike or cycle parked around a seat) people usually get rolls or kebabs to go but the smell of the food is so overwhelming that 90% of the time you will see them devouring into their food right outside the place! And yeah, do not expect less than a 15-20 minute wait at any of these places and if you reach around closing time you may not get your choice of kebab coz it's all gone by then!
I have to take a slight detour from Khan Market for a bit and mention that kebab's, especially the mutton kakori kebab at Al-Kauser (R.K. Puram) are really good and so are the mutton shammi's and chicken tandoori at the original Karim's branch in Vasant Kunj (now changed to Rahim's - the food is still great). Another place you should not pass the mutton shammi's at, is Wenger's - but again you should not miss any of the savouries at this pastry shop :)!
Back to Khan Market - there are a number of restaurants here to suit a variety of budgets and occasions and taste buds. There is Blanco for Italian, SideWok for Oriental (heard good things about this place), Chona's (all kinds of OK-ish food but good to hangout at), Chokola (have never liked this place personally or the service) but if you want to just chill and look at the world pass you by a must go place would be Cafe Turtle. This cafe is on the top flood of a bookstore and whether you are all alone and in the mood of a retrospective coffee and indulgent chocolate cake session or on a afternoon date with your husband / girlfriend's / boyfriend or in the mood of a healthy light lunch - this is the place to be! You can hide behind a book in their small cozy inside area or hang-out on the terrace outside and enjoy the view while sipping on your wheat grass cooler. I am not going to give you a food review here coz anything I've had off their menu is great. But this is an all veg eclectic cafe and not a let's hang-out and have a loud conversation over beers (no alcohol served here) kinda place.
I hope this will help anyone visiting Delhi or people who have lived here all their life and don't know about these joints. It's 7:00am and as I sign-off from of my article I realize - I am all energised from all the food talk to face another fun and working Sunday (my baby bottles are sterilized and my son is all ready to get up and play, I have my menu for the day planned and as usual I am running on under 6 hours of sleep...).