Even as Lady Baga settled her skirts in Connaught Place, another earthier lady appeared on the scene. Mother India has laid down her wares in H-block, offering ghar ka khana from the country’s various corners. The regional cuisine restaurant is mercifully free of any scientific cooking alias molecular gastronomy, relying instead on its pleasant servers and palatable food. Not that we know that yet, of course.
The interiors are a diorama of when India was Bharat and dharti was also known as mother. Framed pictures in sepia tones lie scattered between gramophones, vintage compasses and other colonial and Swadeshi bric-a-brac. The soundscape matches with the old Bollywood tunes softly lulling in the background.
With entire regions to choose from we start with the Northeast inspired Raja Macchi, Chapli Kebab from Rampur and buttery Chicken Tikka from Delhi. Given their geographical proximity, the tikkas arrive first, complete with sizzle. Given that we’re in the heart of Delhi, the tikkas are textbook — soft and well spiced but not spicy — best had with the zingy green chutney served alongside. The next to dock in is the fish, which while tender and flaky is with nary a hint of the fearsome Naga Mircha. This void (and ours) is filled with the Chapli Kebab, as delicately fashioned as a slipper (Bata not Relaxo), but far more robust, reminding us of how much we all owe to the erstwhile royal kitchens of Rampur.
Our mains also have us looking left and right, up and down, before settling for Lal Maas and Lachche ke paranthe from Rajasthan and the Hyderabadi Gosht Biryani. While their Hyderabadi Biryani might not take you to Paradise, it’s still meaty with fragrant rice and spices, which come together like a ’60s song, courtesy the fabulous mirchi ka salan. Adding fuel to this fire, the Lal Maas comes red hot with soft mutton in a fiery bath of a red chill gravy. Because our masochism isn’t satiated yet, the paranthas come dusted with red chilli powder, the perfect accompaniment to the piquant curry.
Dessert helps soothe the desert’s ravaging, in the form of a chilled Jahangiri Kheer — a glutinous amalgamation of rice, milk and sugar — and a Ras Malai. Mother knows best.
Meal for two: Rs 1,500 (including taxes, excluding alcohol)
Address: H-11, Outer Circle, Connaught Place.