Delhi, residing in the heart of India, is an amalgamation of several cultures from across the country. With different cultures, comes a variety of food. Several regional restaurants can be found across Delhi to taste the many flavours of India. However, if one wants to get as authentic as possible when it comes to regional food, the State Houses in Delhi are a no-brainer. They are affordable and the food is just lip-smackingly bona fide.
On one fateful morning, I had the chance to visit the old Maharashtra Sadan's canteen for breakfast. A little further on Copernicus Marg, just as I crossed the Doordarshan Bhawan, Punjab Sadan and Haryana Sadan I reached Maharashtra Sadan, my food destination for the day. The place is within a 7 to 8-minute walking distance from Mandi House metro station. As the guards on the gate direct you to the canteen, you find a narrow staircase leading to the gate of the canteen. Just as you step in, the wooden walls and steel chairs welcome give the feeling of an old-time diner, with few seats occupied by the people either waiting for their food or relishing it. A tall picture of Shivaji Maharaj on one of the walls gives the much-needed Marathi touch to the place.
Their one-page menu offers an extensive variety of food, ranging from breakfast to the main course. To have the meal of your choice, you need to reach the place at the appropriate time. As expected, the breakfast menu was brimming with pao, vada, misal, and poha in different permutations. We ordered a plate of poha, misal pao, vada pao and chaas from the menu and boy, not a single one of them was disappointing. It was a hearty and fulsome meal. But the best part was the bill that we got. We were truly surprised at the affordability quotient of the place. That called for another meal at this place.
True to form, I was there a couple of days later, but this time, to try out the lunch menu. This time we concentrated on the curries. We ordered a Malvani Chicken Curry and exotic-sounding Saoji chicken curry. We munched on masala papad (topped with finely cut onion, tomatoes, green chilli and spices) another Maharashtrian speciality, as we waited for our food to arrive. The Malvani curry came with coconut milk as one of the dominant ingredients. The gravy was smooth and had a lightly flavoured taste. This we relished with some steamed rice. Next, we tried the Saoji Curry. We wanted to try the Kohlapuri Chicken, which was also very much present on the menu. But we also knew that Kohlapuri chicken curry is famously hot. So instead we decided to try the new look of Saoji curry. We were later to find out that Saoji curry comes from the Nagpur part of Maharashtra. As it turned out, Saoji curry was very hot too. Still, we relished it, as the strong flavours it had jumped at us. We polished everything off our plates. There were many more preparations left to try on the menu, for which we promised ourselves to come back.