1. Rasmalai :
Its origins lie in eastern India but this simple dairylovers dessert is very popular all over the north including Delhi. Its made of soft balls of sweetened chenna (like a crumbly paneer Indias cottage cheese) soaked in malai or clotted cream flavored with cardamom topped with nuts or dried fruit and served chilled. It wont win points for color but its delicious with delicate sweetness.
2. Chicken ishtu :
The ishtu (also spelled ishtoo ishtew) of Delhi has a mild onionbased stewlike sauce dotted with plenty of khada masala or whole spices cloves cardamom pods and more plus a healthy pooling of oil on top. (In the south its different prepared with coconut milk). The texture is of minced onion and garlic; the flavor nutty slightly tangy and aromatic. Both mutton and chicken are common meats usually served on the bone. Etymology note: According to Delhi food blog Eat and Dust its quite likely that ishtew evolved from the Hindi pronunciation of stew in fact sometimes youll see it on menus as stew and possible that the dish itself is derived from the Brits own brown stew.
3. Lassi :
The smoothielike counter to all those heavy curries lassi is a creamy frothy yogurtbased drink from Punjab. There are many varieties but most will fall under either sweet or salted the former is curd blended or whisked with sugar (and/or fruit) the latter with salt and often other spices like cumin and/or cardamom seeds. Traditionally lassi is served in a disposable clay cup called a kulhar and extra malai or clotted cream is spooned on top before serving. In Delhi lassis are especially popular in the summer when they provide a cool soothing balance to most everything else being consumed.
4. Gulab jamun :
A popular dessert all over India indeed much of South Asia gulab jamuns are little goldenbrown balls (or ovals) made of milk solids and flour that are deepfried coated in a sugary syrup and served warm. Dense and sweet with a bready exterior and creamy insides they remind us of delicious sugarsoaked doughnut holes.
Delhi loves its kebabs. In fact its not really an exaggeration to say that a whole website might be dedicated to the many varieties of ground and rolled grilled and skewered meats found in this city a relatively young phenomenon really that perhaps represents Delhi embracing its Mughlai roots (or more specifically the Persian roots of those Mughals). For carnivores of course this is all great news but even vegetarians can find good grilled paneer or potato kebabs around here. For the sake of simplicity were going to focus on two of the more common variations youll find in Delhi on a stick or otherwise: mutton seekh or spiced minced mutton on a skewer and chicken tikka or grilled marinated chicken. Youll see these and other meats straightup grilled usually over a low charcoal flame as well as wrapped into a paperthin roomali roti or thicker kathi roll thus becoming kebab rolls. Appetizer lunch dinner latenight snack: Its always kebab time.
6. Phirni :
This North Indian dessert is made of rice flour or ground rice milk and sugar; it has the delicious subtly sweet taste of rice pudding but a creamy smooth texture. Its usually topped with pistachio nuts and served chilled in earthenware bowls. Like the similar kheer phirni is especially popular during Ramadan and in Muslim restaurants.
7. Rajma chawal :
Red kidney beans or rajma are not native to India but they show up in this common Punjabi dish paired with rice or chawal. Soupy and hearty its like a Latin American rice and beans with Indian spices.