MUGHAL INSPIRED STREET FOOD AT CAFÉ DELHI, LEICESTER
Welcome to Café Delhi, Leicester’s new (ish) street food café positioned on the world famous Golden Mile and serving vegetarian flavours transporting you back to the alleyways of Delhi.
Café Delhi opened it’s doors approximately four months ago and headed by the same team who brought us Leicester’s Highcross Indian establishment, Mem-Saab. Its brief is to bring a modern authentic Indian street food experience to the heart of the vibrant community that surrounds it.
The food is styled on the street cuisine of the narrow galis or alleyways of Chandni Chowk, which is hailed by some as being the vibrant bustling street food capital of the city.
As you enter Café Delhi, you are instantly aware of it’s opulent interiors, which are decorated in copper accents, in the form of tea pots, bar ware and cups broken through with the Calcutta marble and rattan cross back chairs. If you look beyond the bar, the open kitchen provides a fantastic view of the chefs rustling up your street food selections. A theatrical dining approach is always a welcome addition to any culinary experience in my opinion and adds a welcoming and personable ambience.
Beautiful wall art of Mughal emperors adorned in their glorious traditional dress and photos of the days of the British Raj are strategically arranged on the walls above the corner soft turquoise seating area as well as the show stopping artwork you see opposite the brick wall on the left.
The menu covers continue in keeping with the theme and colourings of the café and work beautifully along side the copper and brown tones of the bar area.
Café Delhi’s menu combines the cultural diversity of Delhi and draws upon its English, Arabian, Rajputi and Mughal influences over the years. The dishes are most definitely fit for a Royal Emperor and even combine the great British constitution of High Tea but rename as High Chai. Definitely one I’m trying in future!
The dining is pretty casual, vegetarian featuring an array of non-alcoholic drinks and the most thirst quenching of mocktails. I tried the Aam Panna Mocktail, which combined mango, fresh mint, black salt and roasted cumin. The end result is a refreshing tangy summer cooler. Dr C opted for the Salted Lassi, the classic cool yoghurt based drink.
The menu is divided into sections, named, Choti Choti Baatein (small bites such as poppadoms), Saas ki Pasand (which form the sharing platters), Dilli Chaat Bhandar (a mix of crispy bases, tangy ingredients spiced with a dollop of yoghurt and garnishes), Tandoor Se (predominantly made up of kebabs), Daadi Ki Rasoi Se (the curries), and section with rice and bread accompaniments as well as a dessert selection, known as Meethi Meethi Baatein, which literally translates to sweet talk!
We decided to order a medley of some of our favourite street food selections from the menu as well as some Café Delhi favourites the friendly staff recommended. I have to say they were all very tasty and the flavours did transport me back to the side streets of India and grabbing a quick snack road side.
GOL GAPPE SHOTS
Aka Pani Puri. These are small crisp puris or bubbles placed on a small shot glass containing a chutney mix of tamarind and lightly spiced with cumin, coriander, chilli, mint and jaggery. The idea is to empty the contents of the shot glass into the small whole of the puri, which contains a small amount of onion, coriander and moong sprout on the top, whole into the mouth to get the combination of tangy, crispy and sweet flavours. The shot glasses are placed in a small cart, which you can pull along the table and provides a fun, playful feature of the dish.
Okra or ladies fingers are sliced thinly and coated in a lightly spiced batter and deep fried. They are served in small wire basket with tamarind chutney. This I have to admit is the first time I’ve tried fried okra and it was delicious. Actually, quite the stand-out dish for me. The okra were crispy and not soaked in oil. Perfect and beautifully flavoured.
Small crisp wheat spherical bases, topped with chickpeas, potatoes, yoghurt, mint and a tamarind chutney. Again, a lovely mix of sweet, tangy and crispy flavours presented in a more refined format that the street food version, which is sometimes mixed in a bowl.
Puffed hollow wheat biscuits, similar to a small puri shape, filled with chaat masala, yoghurt, onions, tamarind chutney, pomegranate and crispy sev. These again are something you place straight into the mouth and provide a small flavour explosion with the yoghurt toning down the heat from the spice.
Indian cheese slices are infused in cumin spiced yoghurt marinade and cooked in a traditional tandoor oven. This can be served with bread such as a naan, roti or simply as we had it with mint yoghurt chutney.
With the medley of starters over, we moved our attention to the Meethi Meethi Baatein of the dessert offerings and we were not disappointed with our choices, which just hit the sweet spot perfectly.
Unripened cheese curd, patted into a dumpling and soaked in a milk which has been infused with saffron, cardamom and sweetened milk. A beautifully silky, smooth and simultaneously, nutty taste to the palette.
GAJAR KA HALWA
A warm caramelised carrot mixture with pistachios and almonds served with a dollop of ice cream. Personally this for me is a warming, comforting, rich, opulent (fit for a Mughal emperor) winter dessert, which provides the perfect winter desert but for the sweet toothed amongst us like Dr C its perfect to enjoy at any time of the year!
Like a true blogger, I’ve saved the best photos to te end!! Indians always like to finish the meal with a chai, Mughal or not and Dr C and I most certainly did. We picked the Kashmiri Pink Chai. This tea provides a warm, delicate, nutty and soothing flavour inspired by the Kashmiri Kawa. The Kawa is a tea fir for Royalty and was served to the Mughals and Rajputs during their reign. It contain all the opulence of green tea infused with spices, sweet almonds, rose petals and saffron.
So what did I think after eating my way through a menu paying homeage to the street food of Delhi, the dishes served to Maharajas and the British Raj? From me it’s an absolute thumbs up! Café Delhi is a sophisticated, innovative dining establishment serving the kind of café style food that transports us straight back to those gallis of India. It brings back memories and reproduces tastes in a beautiful casual, but refined, cultured setting. My next visit will have include experiencing the High Chai.
Did you enjoy my Mughal inspired Café Delhi experience or have you visited already? Do let me know in the comments below.
47 Melton Road
Leicester. LE4 6PN