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Top 10 Indian restaurants in India

Recently, the Singapore-based Miele Guide asked me to be part of their jury to vote for Asia’s best restaurants. This is for the second consecutive year that I have been asked to do this, though I must say that I wasn’t to happy about what eventually turned up last year: Not many Indian restaurants were mentioned, the guide was heavily Singapore-centric and amongst the winners, the lone Indian, Bukhara, was as clichéd as cliché can be. Not one of the Indian judges (myself included) could have actually put Bukhara on the top of their lists when there are so many disparate and wonderful choices now available in the Subcontinent. But since the Guide apparently had thrown open the shortlisted names to public voting, and since not many people in India voted in the first place, a skewed result was only to be expected. This year, they have promised to reinvent the formula. Let’s hope they do. In the meanwhile, here is my list of the top 10 Indian—and Indian cuisine– restaurants that you must visit.

1. Dakshin: Let’s begin with regional Indian cuisine. This ITC hotels brand serves the best of cuisine from Southern India—Fluffy, rounded appams, luscious seafood, fiery Chettinad curries, all paired with wine by the glass.
2. Sagar Ratna: Udupi style, vegetarian south Indian “snacks” (but they can be full meals in themselves)—dosas, idlis, rasam and a variety of rice preparations have been popularized all over India by this chain run by an affable and down-to-earth Jayram Banan, once upon a time runaway kid.
3. Swagath/Mahesh Lunch Home/Trishna: If you are in Mumbai and want to sample some Konkani seafood, there’s nothing better than the latter two, tiffin style no-fuss eateries that are surprisingly affordable too. In Delhi, head to Swagath for similar comfort food. Their butter-pepper-garlic crabs, a take on the Chinese street style, is to die for.
4. Dumpukht: So you have been to Bukhara or Peshawari (as it is called all over the country except in Delhi) for your grills and kebabs, but if you want to sample some really refined food from Lucknow, elegant kormas, delicate biryanis and heavenly bakarkhanis, this is the place at the ITC Maurya, New Delhi.
5. Karim’s, New Delhi: For Mughlai food as it used to be. Some of the recipes are so traditional that they are on the brink of extinction, like Nargisi Koftas, hard boiled eggs in a shell of spicy mince, dunked in gravy.
6. Kudla, Bangalore: For regional Mangalore-style seafood
7. Chor Bizzare, New Delhi: For regional Indian food at value-for-money prices. Their Kashmiri spread is great and this is a convenient place when we want to entertain.
8. Aap ki Pasand, Khan Market, New Delhi: This was one of those local restaurants that had grown legendary for their quality food but which only a handful of people even within the city really knew about. This used to exist in Nizamuddin but has now come to the chic Khan Market too.
9. Fire, The Park, New Delhi: One of the first restaurants to attempt contemporary Indian food like you may be used to in London and New York. This will serve you stylized bites, innovative and beautifully presented but also some authentic local recipes, home-style. They research extensively—the chef asks everyone in the hotel to bring in one dish from their homes that their mothers specialize in. The best are then tweaked to hotel standards. I had the best haleem here.
10. Kwality: For old time’s sake. This was a Raj-era restaurant that specialized in those quaint specialities like vegetable au gratin and Punjabi food. It still exists in the heart of Delhi, Connaught Place. A good reason for you to check this out.

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3 Responses to “Top 10 Indian restaurants in India”

  1. Vince says:

    This is a really great top ten list, I am craving Chicken Tandoori and some Naan from reading this. Anyone can post their own list to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  2. Subash Sequeira says:

    I think this list is a list is becoming of THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN DELHI. I have eaten at few of these, and know that there are some awesome restaurants outside Delhi. What Anoothi Vishal has complained in the first few lines of the article, has been repeated on a Delhi-centric list.

    Anoothi : Food for THought

  3. Subash
    Here’s some more food for thought for u: All lists are subjective, you can make your own. And Delhi is the food capital of India with more sophisticated restaurants here than anywhere else