Address: 1 Assam Bhavan Sardar Patel Marg, Assam Bhawan, Near Sri Lankan Commission, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021, India
Time: 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Meals for two: Rs. 800
Cuisines: Indian, Asian
Facilities: No Alcohol Served, Credit Card Accepted
Baankaahi, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi: Decor
Only in Delhi could you have a euphemism like ‘lower ground floor’ but in this case, the description is apt because from the bright, cheery red and white interiors of Baankaahi, you can see the courtyard outside, which is part of the eatery. There is a card-carrying crowd that determinedly visits Delhi’s bhawans and niwases the way most others visit restaurants and cafes. And Baankaahi has, in the last few weeks, become a hot favorite with them, so expect to wait for a table at mealtimes. There are truly delicious fried snacks that go well with tea (Assam = tea!), there is half a page of British tea planters’ favorites like roast chicken and fish and chips which I left for a subsequent visit (but which is useful if you are unwilling to try the challenges of a new cuisine) and there are a few dishes from tribes like Mishing and Karbi, from the Brahmaputra Valley. Assamese food has elemental flavors, very few spices and tiny touches of sourness or alkalinity that defines it.
Baankaahi, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi: Food
A thali is, in my opinion, the most efficient way of getting a look at a cuisine that you are not familiar with. The vegetarian one that I ordered (Rs. 225) had half a lime, a green chilli and a tiny ball of kharoli, a unique alkaline substance that is a digestive. It had two katoris of pitika: tomato and potato bharta, two dal preparations, including one that had a dumpling in it and was tangy enough to warrant the term ‘tenga’ and an intriguing preparation of a watery white gourd with black gram that would have been entirely home-style and of no particular note, except that it contained the alkaline khar which imparted a flavor that is unique to Assamese food. The rice was an Assamese variety that is far more fragrant than basmati: do specify that you want Assamese rice. Rice and dal in the thalis, are unlimited. Vegetable bora (Rs. 110) is a platter of mixed pakodas, including curry leaves on the stem, plantain, white poppy seeds, black poppy seeds and lentil. Soon after lunch time, tea is served with snacks, and pakodas are the most popular. The duck curry (haah kumura Rs. 250) was redolent with coarsely pounded coriander seeds.
Baankaahi, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi: Plus And Minus
The least expensive food in Chanakyapuri.