In a nutshell:
Good simple interiors, good service & a very enjoyable, subtle, authentic Oriya cuisine in the land of strong tastes – Delhi
Address & other details: Odisa Niwas
Meal for 2: Rs. 160 onwards
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
Simple non fussy interiors with lots of beautiful Odisa paintings all around & above. The stained glass that surrounds the Dining hall is covered with nice colorful glass painting. Much better visually than the more popular Andhra Bhawan few kilometers away.
Previously was run by the Odisa Government but is now run by a chain of Restaurants that serve odisa food – Dalma. They claim to be the first ever Odisa food Restaurant.
The staff wears uniform given by the restaurant – they are good. Some of them speak hindi with a heavy Odisa accent. A little patience bears good fruit as the guys are nice.
Menu card is colorful wit photographs in the same manner that one sees a lot in China & hongkong. What is however interesting is that the pics are all downloaded from net & do not necessarily represent the actual food that is being served. Example – We looked at the picture of fried fish & said ‘We want this fish’. Pat came the reply ‘Sorry sir, that’s just a picture. What we have is ****’.
Peep into the prices (in the picture below) & u will be stunned. Is this Delhi price or Odisa price? Is this 2012 price or 1992 price? Side dishes starting as low as Rs. 15!!!! For inmates of Odisa Niwas, any meal costs only Rs. 10.
About the food – We were lucky to have two of our friends from Odisa with us at Lunch. One of them said twice – this is just like it is at home. The other friend was a bit disappointed & said ‘ I wud give 6 / 10 to this lunch’. I said ‘why’. He said ‘ I did not feel that I ate out today – I felt that I am eating at home. What’s the point?’. Interesting conflict of perspectives – It is this point that I found most interesting – I am getting to eat authentic almost home cooked Odisa food sitting in Delhi at prices if 1992 – wow.
Detailed Description – in case u have the time to njoy reading:
For starter we chose Chuna maach (tiny fishes) fry – turned out to be not a simple ‘marinate in salt & turmeric & fry in oil’ as in Bengali cuisine. Rather, it was fried in spices, tomato & onions. The fishes r with bones but they are so small (both the fish & the bones ) that it is futile to try to separate the bones from the fish – best idea is just pop them into the mouth & chew away to glory. As u chew, the juices of the fish, the spices & the rest are released into the mouth. We liked it & hence ordered a second helping post the first one.
For starter we also ordered Chingudi fry – prawns, thick onion slices & tomatoes fried in spices – delicious. Super liked it.
For main course we ordered two kinds of thalis (to be shared) – A vegetarian thali & a vegetarian Pakhala thali. We also ordered some nonvegetarian side dishes.
The vegetarian thali had a karela & potato curry, a saag fried Odisa style, a veggie curry with tohri (gourd) & other vegetables & matar dal, spiced up aloo mash, Dalma ( the odisa Daal), a tangy mango chutney, fried papad & a rasgulla. This was served with steamed rice & jeera rice.
The karela & potato curry was as simple as it cud get & it reminded ofd something similar that I have had at home as a child. The veggie curry was also super simplistic. The aloo mash tasted good. The dalma was simply superb. The tangy mango chutney was as tangy & as tasty as it cud get. The jeera rice was ok ok.
Pakhala Thali (pakhala is fermented rice – known as panta bhhat in Bengali) . The side dishes were almost same as the normal veggie thali.
Pakhala was the only dish that our friends from Odisa said was not as authentic – it was not fermented enough. The original one is fermented & this is an integral part of the taste & feel.
Kukkuda Jhola was the chicken curry with gravy. Though I am not a big chicken fan, I liked this a lot. That really speaks a lot about the dish.
Khasi mansa kassa (mutton curry) was excellent & thoroughly enjoyable. The mutton pieces were soft, spicy & tasty. Loved it.
For dessert we ordered Khira (Kheer in Hindi, Payesh in Bengali & Payasam in South Indian languages). Good, thick, mildly sweet & nice.
The star of the dessert show was the rasgulla – did not expect to get such good rasgulla in Delhi. This was rasgulla in its purest form – the type that is available in suburbs of Kolkata & not the mass manufactured KC Das varieties. Infact we were lucky that it had been just made – piping hot. Wow. Made our day. For the uninitiated, contrary to popular belief, Rasgulla was not invented in Bengal, but in Odisa. Read about it here.
Overall – Loved the lunch here. Look forward to revisiting.