Paka, and spaceba for all the Tilapia!

The Russians are a darling lot. They are apt to be disarmingly rude yet bashfully imperial, to drink like pigs, dance like oafs, have fond memories of their mothers humming to Raj Kapoor tunes, and love cooking just the way their grandmothers did.

Or so has been my experience from staying with a Russian roommate and interacting with her swarm of friends in the US. Russian cooking is geared to help you survive through extreme cold and poverty, so you could say it was ideally suited for us graduate students in Chicago. Slabs of pork, fillets of (which I loved precisely because they didn’t smell like fish), dumplings, mashed potatoes, and generous amounts of sour cream and soya sauce figured prominently in my roommate’s cooking, and it was only thanks to trips to the gym that we kept our weight in any control.

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Tamura Onegaishimas …

Japanese food in “saadi dilli” is a bit of a rarity. In a largely vegetarian world, the demand for such food is low to begin with. Add to that the “eek” factor associated with raw fish, and then being affordable largely by the urban bourbon-drinking page 3 hip and plastic crowd, and you have a cuisine on which the exclusion factor has been really high. I chanced on it, or rather was force-fed on it, when my parents decided to move to Japan for a year almost 15 years ago. Since then there has been no looking back and I’m always on the lookout for places serving Japanese food. So I was super excited to learn from a cousin that a japani eating place had opened up in D-Block Market, Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar, called Tamura (ph: +91-11-26154082).

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Mughal Darbar

If the name conjures visions of sheesh mahals, viziers, courtesans, and exotic aromas, you’ve come to the right place.

Mughal Darbar, close to Tapti hostel in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus is the Indian communist’s homage to Persian indulgence. As you pass myriad expressions of youth culture (that are best left unelaborated), you spot a twinkling light in the distance, behind which the yellow bulb hides a proletarian shack. A decidedly Big Brotherly sign at the entrance advises: “Pay in Advance”.
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Sona Sweets at Nehru Place

“Nehru Place?!” you ask. I know, i know. Hardly the most obvious place to look for fine dining.

But heck, if all of puraani dilli‘s food has evolved from lashkari khana (food for army encampments), we should probably not ignore the battalions of office-goers whose collective lunch appetites keep a multitude of eateries in Delhi in business.
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