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India on my plate

Baishali Adak, Nov 22, 2012, DHNS :

Trade Fair food

Street food: Pao bhaji at the Maharashtra stall at Trade Fair.

Delhi probably never looked as gastronomically vibrant. Of the 19 States holding pavilions at the India International Trade Fair 2012, at least nine are running their own food stalls to give a taste of their region to those visiting.

Making the affair even tastier, all the food stalls have been placed at one locale – near Hall no. 1 – this time, instead of locating them in individual pavilions. So one can eat one’s way through various regional cuisines without worrying much about walking.

The states with their independent food stalls are: Punjab, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Kerala, J&K, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. While each is being praised for one or the other dish, a few stalls have emerged clear favourites.

Butter chicken rules! The Punjab Rasoi is clearly hosting the largest number of visitors at any given time. Their chhole bhature, makke ki roti and sarson da saag, Rajma rice, Chhole rice, Chicken biryani and lassi are selling the most, while visitors are particularly praising the Special Punjabi Thali. Virender Singh, who had come all the way from Meerut just to enjoy the fair says, “The portions are fine and the taste is good too. At Rs 150, I think the thali is worth it.”

Maharashtra’s humble sabudana khichdi, sabudana vada and pao bhaji are giving the Punjab stall serious competition. Its owner Vaishali Garge informs us, “These items are light on the stomach. Hence, health-conscious people from all regions are coming to us.” Their pudina, lassan and mungfali chutney, and Amrakhand (mango flavoured shrikhand) are heavenly, a visitor confided.

The Rajasthan stall here is more popular for the chatty men in colourful turbans at the counter, than the food. Nevertheless, their thali is being liked by all. It includes almost every well-known item in Rajasthani cuisine from gatte ki subzi, ker sangri, dal bati churma, bajra roti, missi roti, kadi to moong dal halwa and choorma laddoo. Their aloo pyaaz ki kachori, moong dal ki kachori, Jodhpuri mirchi wada and Mawa kachori Jodhpuri are good too. All are prepared in desi ghee.

The neighbouring J&K stall, meanwhile, is giving visitors the opportunity to explore a cuisine hard to find in Delhi otherwise. Cleverly, they have divided their menu into three sections: Kashmiri wazwan, Ladakhi and Dogri food. The non-veg items in Kashmiri wazwan, like Rogan josh, Rista (mutton balls) and Gushtaba (mutton balls in yoghurt) are being bought in kilos. Their saffron qahwa, served from a large silver ornate jar, is the ultimate remedy to Delhi’s chill.

If you are still looking for a dessert after this, head straight to the West Bengal Corner for rosogollas; and then if your parched throat demands solace, Kerala Food’s coconut water will do the trick. Doesn’t that make for a complete Indian gastronomic tour?


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