Our trip to India was a culinary treat. We ate amazing food every day. The husband and I also treated ourselves to a top notch Indian restaurant in Delhi. Bukhara was recommended to us by friends who went to Delhi before the wedding. The told us that they ate the Clinton menu when they were there. That’s right, the Clintons, as in the former President and his daughter Chelsea. In honor of their visit, the restaurant created a special menu for them and now offer the menu for non-world leaders. Our current President has also eaten there, but we didn’t see a special Obama menu.
Things I liked about Bukhara:
1. As I discovered throughout all of India, vegetarian food is incredibly easy to find. Some restaurants were even completely vegetarian! I don’t get that in the states too often. So imagine my pleasant surprise when one whole side of the menu was vegetarian. (The other side of this board was a non-vegetarian menu that the husband was excited to see.) No beef on the non-veg side, but lots of chicken and lamb. We opted to order two special combo meals that allowed us to taste three different entrees each, dal (lentils), a bread, and a dessert. I got the vegetarian version, and the husband got the non-vegetarian version. And I think there was maybe some wine and/or cocktails involved (at least 30 varieties of whiskey on the drink menu, by the way.)
2. Before I make you jealous with the photos of the food, take a peek at the table before the food arrived. What’s missing? Silverware! No knives, forks, or spoons are put on the table at the start of your meal at Bukhara. And before you think that this is some hole in the wall mess where everyone eats with their hands, this restaurant has been voted “Best Indian Restaurant” four years in a row by the UK magazine “Restaurant.” It’s a little pricey in rupees, too. No messing around! You can ask for silverware if you need them, but the husband and I were stubborn and insisted on figuring out how to do this without forks and spoons. That basically means using lots of bread! No complaints from this girl! And much easier than chopsticks.
3. Another unique aspect of this restaurant is that guests have a view into part of the kitchen. From where we were seated, we could watch the naan go into the stone oven, see the plates being prepared, and catch a glimpse of the meats coming out of another stone oven. That was pretty cool. It certainly provided our entertainment for the night! I especially enjoyed when the guy making balls of dough for the naan tried to toss one to the guy stretching them out and missed, throwing the ball into the stone oven instead. He got a dirty look from his partner!
4. Another fun part of the Bukhara experience is the grown-up bibs that are offered to every guest. They are even color coordinated based on what the guest orders. Since I ordered vegetarian, I got a green bib, and the meat-eating husband got a red bib. Some people turned them down because they thought they would look silly or something. We don’t look silly, do we?
In front of us on the table is the food we ordered. In detail below:
My vegetarian meal included:
Paneer Tikka: Fresh cottage cheese, marinated in fresh cream, gramflour, “ajwain” and yellow chillies skewered and grilled in the “Earthen oven”
Tandoori Phool: Cauliflower florets seasoned with yellow chilli and spices, coated with spiced batter of gram flour and “ajwain” deep fried, skewered and chargrilled (not in the photo, arrived later after our hands were too messy to take pictures)
Tandoori Simla Mirch: Capsicum (green bell pepper) stuffed with sauteed beans, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, cashewnuts and sultanas (raisins), spiced with cumin and yellow chilli powder, skewered and roasted in the “Earthen oven”
Mixed Raita: Joghurt (yogurt) served with a choice of garnish onion, tomato, cucumber, or pineapple
Dal Bukhara: A harmonious blend of black lentil, tomatoes, ginger and garlic, simmered overnight on slow charcoal fire, finished with cream and served with a dollop of unsalted butter (bowl of brown stuff between the two plates. This was the husband’s favorite part of the meal, I believe.)
Tandoori Naan (amazing Indian bread)
Kulfi: A rich and creamy frozen dessert with almonds, served with corn starch vermicelli and rose syrup
Phirni: A light dessert of milk and ground Basmati rice flavoured with cardamom, set in an earthen mould, topped with pistachio and almond slivers