May 30, 2020
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Food Fiesta

A guide to the dhaba capital

Food Fiesta
The Times Good Eating Guide: Delhi
By Sabina Sehgal Saikia
Times Group Rs 100, Pages: 302
SABINA Sehgal Saikia has taken enormous pains to be thorough in this guide to eating out in Delhi. She also generously concedes that "as in the case of any judgement, our ratings are bound to please some and upset the others". Upset is not the word I want, it is disagree, and not necessarily challenge. But the standard of food reviewing being what it is in Delhi, I was a little wary, remembering that classic in a national daily when a very superior reviewer referred to "that famous German sausage, sauerkraut". One of the reasons for this kind of faux pas is that Delhi is not exactly a city of gourmets. Which is why I disagree that Delhi is "the country's true food capital." The over-rich Yuppies and Puppies who will drive miles out to sample so-called exotica from abroad are much easier to please than the stickler for authenticity; which is why I rank Mum-bai as the food capital of India, both in the variety and quality of its eating places and the high standards demanded by patrons. Besides, I have known House of Ming touch two-star levels on its off-days, whereas its sibling Teahouse of the August Moon wins hands down for consistency. I also feel that Keraleeyam, which has a suspicion of Punjabi in its richer gravies, is not a patch on Coconut Grove, but both get three stars. The point I am trying to make is that Sabina's helpers seem to have different standards of assessment and sometimes betray a degree of amateurishness.

Having said that, I take off my hat to the practical side of this book. It is meticulously cross-indexed, has eating places listed alphabetically and under sub-headings. It covers everything from Mexican to chaat, zone-wise, hotel-wise, made to order, late night coffee shops, home delivery, bars, discos, fast food. Its comments might not be five-star, but this is the first food guide to Delhi in a handy size which you can keep in the glove compartment of your car, or in your handbag for an elusive telephone number or location or check up on hours.

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