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Updated: October 11, 2010 18:36 IST

Incredibly Indian

RAHUL VERMA
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Food stalls set up for the Commonwealth Games

Hope lies eternal in the human breast — especially when food is concerned. Despite the fact that I had futilely followed an advertisement to Dilli Haat some days ago — to find that it had nothing on offer that I was looking for — I decided to go to Connaught Place the other day when I heard that food stalls had been set up to mark the Commonwealth Games.

I went early one afternoon, and found the place as empty as Mother Hubbard's larder. I was told to return after three or four, which I did, and discovered that the much touted food plaza, supposedly featuring food from all over the country, was a bit of a let-down.

But the cup, as the wise men said, is half full when it's half empty. On the empty side was the Kerala stall, which only had idlis and vadas. Meen curry, I asked hopefully. No, I was told. The menu card included chicken biryani, but when I asked for some, they told me (with a suitable frown) that the Navratras had begun, so they weren't going to serve any meat.

Some stalls had chaat and pao bhaji, but I hadn't ventured into crowded CP — the food plaza is in front of the state emporia — for that. I walked ahead to the Rajasthani stall, and found that it was one place where one could eat something interesting. I had some pyaz ki kachori and moong ki kachori (both Rs.50 for two) and churmey ki laddoo (Rs.40 for two). The kachoris were excellent, and each filling was nice and spicy. The ladoos — my favourites — had been prepared with roasted wheat, and had just the right amount of sugar and oil.

I walked some more and found a stall that had been set up by the chefs of Parathewali Gali. They were old friends of mine, so I ended up buying some papad ke parathe and muttar ke parathe (Rs.70 for two).

The first had a thin and spicy filling of roasted papad and the second had nice juicy whole peas that kept popping out of the paratha as I broke a piece and popped it into the mouth. The parathas came with a runny potato curry, a dry pumpkin preparation, some pickles and chutney.

I was getting worried that I couldn't find anything non-vegetarian. And then I spotted the Manipuri stall, which was selling pork and chicken (Rs.55 for a plate). I packed some for dinner. The fatty pork was rather mild, and the chicken a bit dry. Still, I was happy to know that at least the Manipuris weren't worried about the Navratras.

There was a stall set up by Zambar, a restaurant that serves excellent south Indian food, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. To my disappointment I found that the stall opens only at 6.

The festival is on till October 15. You'll always find something nice to eat, but it's a pity that we didn't take this opportunity to showcase the different kinds of cuisine India is known for. I went to see incredible India, but came back home an incredulous Indian.

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