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Chefs in hats preparing food

Bukhara Restaurant in the ITT Hotel in new Delhi

Bukhara restaurant is reputed to be the best Indian restaurant in India, and therefore in the world. It is certainly good, although hardly a hidden gem. Located in the 5-star ITT Hotel, we had been told that booking was next to impossible, but that you could get a table if you arrived by 7 pm and were prepared to wait. The wait seemed more a token affair, as when we arrived the restaurant was virtually empty, and we got a seat after a few minutes even though the head waiter had a list of more than half a dozen people ahead of us also supposedly awaiting cancellations.

The tables are beautifully set with copper bowls and drinking vessels. The food is a treat. We had a mixture of Sikandri Raan, a whole leg of lamb cooked in the tandoor oven, and marinaded in cinnamon, cumin and chille paste; a fish curry made with sole, known as Makli tikka, deliciously spiced with turmeric, garlic, ginger and lemon, with tandoori curd masala; a chicken kebab; a reddish-brown coloured Dhal made of black lentils, with ginger, tomato and garlic; and a refreshing raitha. These are eaten with the fingers, so you have generous portions of naan bread to simplify the job of getting the rich, creamy sauces off your plate and into your mouth.

I remember gulab jamans from the drive in cinema in the port of Mombasa, when I was a kid. We had these for dessert,  beautiful golden brown balls about the size of an orange in a luscious juice ressembling a light maple syrup and tasting oozingly of treacle pudding; a refreshing dish lime-yellow dish called phirni which is made from milk and rice with cardamom, and topped with pistachios; and rasmalai, which are cottage cheese dumplings in a milk that’s flavoured with saffron.

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