It was 2pm when Delhi hit its heat peak. I wiped my brow and chugged a bottle of water as my driver zoomed towards Pandara Road just in time for a late lunch. The petite street is a famous foodie haunt in the capital, known for its upmarket restaurants, a good thing for night owls as many of the eateries here are open until 1am or later.
Gulati Restaurant first opened its doors in 1959 and today remains a local favourite, specializing in quality Mughlai and North Indian food. The restaurant has been listed several times over the years as one of the city’s favourite (via Eating Out Mag, HT City Reader’s Poll and TripAdvisor) so I wasn’t shocked to see the dining room packed in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday.
The space features checkered floors, comfy booths lit by petite overhead lamps and a white washed exposed brick wall featuring a trail of framed vintage photos depicting India’s charming capital.
Upon arrival I quenched my thirst via tart lime soda and pursued the restaurants massive menu. One can really eat for hours here as the kitchen offers up hundreds of dishes from classic vegetarian staples, fragrant biryani’s, grilled kebabs, bowls of bubbling masala and baskets filled with freshly baked naan.
I start by nibbling on juicy cubes of Murgh Malai Tikka (chicken kebab) which had me rethinking the versatility of poultry, a simple yet fantastic combination of yogurt, herbs and chirp. I’ve never been a big lamb lover and it was here during my trip to India’s north (where mutton is so prevalent) that I realized its true potential. I grew up largely on Brit style chops covered in mint jelly whereas the Burrah Akbari mutton kebab I sampled at Gulati was roasted so perfectly that it had the sweet meets smoky flavour and texture of breakfast bacon.
In India’s north wheat-based flat breads such as naan, roti and parantha act as the perfect scoop for creamy palak paneer and murgh makhani. It’s funny how sometimes the simplest dishes are what impress us most and as I recall my Gulati feast I’m immediately drawn to the moment when I unknowingly grabbed my first parantha (assuming it was naan) and tore her apart. My mug was smug as steam burst from my bread, quickly escaping to reveal an addictive filling made up of garlic, pine nuts and spinach. A lesson in: there’s nothing more impressive than a savoury surprise.
Murgh Malai Tikka
spinach and cottage cheese
Dum Aloo Kashmiri
spicy potato curry
Hyderabadi Dumpukht Biryani