If you think that eating at the restaurants and street food is getting boring, you can try one more category. Quite a lot of religious places offer some really good food, almost always free !   Although it’s not meant as a place  for eating out, it’s still a good experience to soak in the peaceful vibes of the place while enjoying a meal prepared with complete selflessness and devotion.  It’s one of a kind experience to see so many  people from all sections of society, even different religions working together just for the joy of giving. There are no restrictions or discrimination based upon race, religion, economic status etc, at least we haven’t seen any.

 Langar food in Gurudwara

Langar food in Gurudwara

What’s more, you can also contribute in your own way. These places accept help from volunteers in form of  labour, raw materials and money. So, in case  you feel guilty about “misusing the service” or if you just want to help, you do have plenty of options.

One of the most accessible places for such work  is a Sikh Temple or Gurudwara and there are plenty in Delhi.   Some of the famous ones are Bangla Sahib and Shishganj Sahib Gurudwara near Connaught Place and in Chandani Chowk respectively. Food is always vegetarian except a few rare exceptions in order to serve everyone regardless of his/her dietary preference.

 

Another such place is International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Temple in East Kailash Colony.  Their free food service is based upon the dictum issued by the founder  Prabhupada: “No one within ten miles radius of an Iskcon temple should go hungry.” The same organisation also runs Akshaya Patra Foundation which  provides free food to lakhs of poor children all over India.   Food here too is vegetarian but has an amazing amount of variety. Ever heard of  Papite ka Halwa, Seb ki Sabzi ( papaya pudding, apple curry ) ? If  it’s your lucky day, you may have the chance to taste some exotic but really delicious food.

Another religious place serving some really good food is Akshardham Mandir. Although it’s not free, quality of  food exceeds the cost by a long margin. The temple itself is one of the star attractions of the city and considered by many to be one of the best modern temples anywhere. You can spend the whole day observing what the place has to offer without completing all of it.  Apart from the temple complex which is full of very beautiful and highly detailed paintings and sculptures, visitors can learn about history and philosophy of the mission as well as India from museum and multi-media shows.   Needless to say that your trip to Delhi is incomplete without visiting Akshardham.

If you are short on time but still want to sample as many different varieties of food as possible in the shortest amount of time, then there is no place better than a food court. Fortunately, there are quite a few such places where you can have almost any kind of Indian food in clean surroundings at fairly decent prices.

Some of the more famous ones are in Pragati Maidan,  Dilli Haat, and Kingdom of Dreams. Additionally, there area few smaller courts in less famous places like Garden of Five Senses. A food court in general, will have small stalls serving food from all corners from India and sometimes foreign too.  If for you a South Indian food place means a joint which serves the usual <em>idli, dosa, uttapam</em>, curd-rice kind of stuff, prepare to get surprised. You can find many more dishes from ALL of the south-Indian states which includes Kerala,  Tamilnadu, Karnatka, and Andhra Pradesh, each with it’s own stall. Even the staff belongs to that particular state for that extra authentic touch.

Quality of the food might differ from one place to another even in the same premises. For example, a particular state’s stall in INA Dilli Haat may serve some really good food, while it may be not that good in Pitampura Dilli Haat. That was just a general example,  but we hope that you catch the drift.

Of course, food is not the only reason to visit these places as these are some of the must visit places in city. Dilli Haats for example  have handicrafts, traditional clothes, furniture and other knick-knacks from all over India for sale all the year round. In addition  a lot of cultural events like music shows, conventions etc. are held there all the year round.   Similarly, Garden Of Five Senses has some really beautiful and interesting flora, fauna and artistic concepts.

Pragati Maidan with an approximate area of 72,000 sq m is one of the largest exhibition grounds in world. It’s a favoured venue for numerous events ranging from expositions by all kinds of industries to trade, book fairs etc.  Quite often, on occasion of some popular event like  International Trade Fair, Auto Expo etc, authorities are forced to limit the number of visitors in order to maintain law and order.

Bhel poori in Pragati Maidan

Bhel poori in Pragati Maidan

 

 

To cater to demands of so many visitors, Pragati Maidan has quite a few eateries spread all over the area. If you aren’t in mood to eat in any of the restaurants inside premises, you can still have quite decent street food in any food court. Apart from the usual snacks, one can find popular food from almost all corners from India. Gatta roti from Rajasthan, Hyderabadi biryani, Pao Bhaji & Bhel Puri from Maharashtra, most of South Indian dishes, these and many more are available in their authentic flavour.  Although in some case the prices are slightly higher, it’s offset by the sheer variety of food available in such a small area. Another plus point is decent indoor seating facility which is often missed in other places.

Next time you are in Delhi, be sure of including Pragati Maidan or any other food court in your must see places . Even if you don’t like the event being held, it’s quite likely that you’ll like the food.