The dishes on Delhi House Cafe’s menu have been created in homage to the city’s thriving cafe culture, inspired by modest matriarch Rajinder Lamba – who, we are told warmly by her family, is the most wonderful cook.
“Everything on the menu, each and every thing, it has been practically done by her,” managing director Varendra Lamba tells us, giving his wife a look of pure adoration.
From dal fritters and deep-fried chillies to a traditional halwa dessert (also made with chilli), we were pleasantly challenged and surprised by some of the things they’ve been working on in the kitchen.
Succulent tandoori lamb chops, served with a dollop of beetroot chutney and granny smith slaw, are so much softer and juicier than the chargrilled variety you find in most city centre Indians. Knives and forks are discarded as we get stuck into removing every last morsel from the bone.
Whilst a delicately spiced lamb keema samosa, combined with chickpea curry, masala yoghurt, mint and tamarind chutney, offers up a fresh interpretation of a traditional chaat.
Delhi, we’re told by the Lamba’s, is a completely different place to what it was twenty, thirty years ago – now populated with hundreds of cafes, their menus packed with burgers, pasta and all sorts of what we might think of as typical ‘western’ dishes cooked in Indian form.
Their own menu at Delhi House Cafe reflects this more modern Indian way of eating with a quirky 5-course tasting menu and main dishes like ‘not my burger’, an open burger of homemade beef kebabs served on a hand-made tandoori naan with salad and chips.
On the booze side, they’ve collaborated with White Rhino, who we’re told are the first craft brewery to be based in India.
We try a range of light and easy-drinking beers typical to the north of India, a mix of tasty lagers, pale ales and an IPA – the latter of which pairs most satisfactorily with our roast chicken ghee dinner.