Many have attempted—and failed—to eat their way through India. In a country with a wide variety of cuisines that shift their shape (and flavours) at every turn, it is a herculean feat but is not impossible. Should that be your culinary goal, we have found out just the way to get you started at NH 44. Eponymously inspired by the longest-running highway in India that loops through 11 states, this is a pan-Indian diner in Delhi that offers dishes unique to each state.
Exposed brick walls in a corner of West Delhi enclose a rectangular space with huge windows, stained glass and handmade teak furniture donned with earthy fabrics. Banta bottles hanging upside down from the ceiling light up the room while classic Bollywood music fills the restaurant. NH 44 offers casual dining in a dhaba-esque space for urban dwellers. For the Delhi audience, it offers room to experiment with food. For others, it gives the comfort of finding your staple home food in the capital city. NH 44 offers what every Indian restaurant should offer—a wholesome experience that can be enjoyed with the family (and yes, we mean your entire clan).
The menu, which is shaped like a truck takes us on a journey by itself, mapping out distinct cuisines with vivid descriptions and information. We start ed our meal by sampling dishes from Kashmir where rich spices like cardamom, cloves and saffron take the forefront. Nadur Monji is a dish with lightly-fried, crispy lotus stems that strike a balance between sweet and spicy, and we munch on these through our entire meal. Served with their refreshing paan cocktail was their signature Sword Kababs, of which both the vegetarian (Maharani) and non-vegetarian (Maharaja) versions were soft and fleshy. But, if we are looking for a winner among kababs, their chicken seekh kabab would take the mantle. A non-spicy alternative, this seekh kabab is served with chicken khurchan (shredded) and a layer of buttery bread.
When it comes to the main course, we were truly spoiled for choice with cuisines from different states. Confused by the options, we simply did what we do best: we indulged. We called for a host of bread—nan, garlic nan, pudhina parathas and roti (from North India), Idli Gunpowder (from the former Andhra Pradesh), Laal Maas peppered with spicy chillies from Jaisalmer (from the Awadhi cuisine) and Aloogadda Vepudu (from Andhra again) with curry leaves and peppercorns.
Beyond this, their menu offers vada pav, paarsi akoori on toast and chaupati pav bhaji from Maharashtra, fish curry from Chennai, and dum biryani mutton from Lucknow. Their menu , although, leans more towards north India. In hindsight, the restaurant could include dishes from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka too, and we say that as a suggestion for a more rounded experience than out of sheer gluttony, we promise.
A feast like the one we had called for a simple dessert, and we ended our meal with a creamy danedar rabri. We may have also gotten some packed for later, but I, for one, don’t dessert and tell.
Where: 1st Floor, Black C, Vaishali Nagar, Rajouri Garden, New Delhi
Pocket Pinch: @INR 1100 for two