South Indian Dhabas in INA Market, New Delhi

In our quest for good, everyday South Indian non-vegetarian food, we landed up at INA Market, New Delhi. The only place I was aware of here was Pasricha’s South Indian Restaurant, a 40 year old pillar of the market. Only the name is North Indian and everything else is South Indian. Don’t get your hopes up though – most of the food sucks. What you *should* eat there though are their Vadas. Freshly fried multiple times a day, the Vadas at Pasricha’s INA Market are a lovely golden brown, large, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Ask for a plate of Vada Sambar and you’ll be served two of these delightful Vadas with a small bowl of Sambar and two types of chutney – coconut and tomato. Barring the sambar, which I found mediocre, the rest is brilliant and you’ll be forgiven if you ask for some more Vadas. The service, hygiene, ambiance and other such things are non existent, so don’t expect them. If you haven’t spent much time in India yet, I suggest skipping the chutneys and only eating the Vadas (if freshly fried) and the sambar (if hot). For the rest of you out there though – go hog, but not too much, as there are two more joints in the immediate vicinity that warrant a little attention.

After parking in INA Market, look for the Police booth. When you find it, stand in front of it, facing the market – you should see Pasricha’s almost immediately. The other two joints are to your right. Walking towards the right of the market, you’ll hit the end in a couple of minutes and will see a left turn immediately followed by a street stall selling Malayali snacks and stuff on the left and a few stairs on the right. Descend the stairs and continue walking ahead and you’ll see a large tree. Ignore the tree and continue walking a few more steps. You’ll see a place called ‘Annas’ on the right and a place called ‘Kerala Restaurant’ on the left, though it may not have signboards up. The entrances are rather unassuming, so it’s easy to miss them.

Did I mention I picked up some pork ribs, red snapper and a whole chicken for a nice Mediterranean style meal sometime this week?

Let’s start with Annas. Annas in INA Market is a Malayali joint with home style cooking. It is quite small and the quality of it’s food isn’t too high – worth a quick visit though. We ordered two plates of brown rice, one plate each of fried fish, fish curry, fried beef and tapioca. Everything was average or below average except the beef and rice, both of which were quite good. The beef was well spiced and served with raw onions as is usual for this dish. The rice was well cooked and tasted nice, even on it’s own. The bill was amazing though – 180 rupees. Doesn’t get lower than that.

Next was the Kerala Restaurant, which you can slip into immediately after you exit Annas. It has a little more available space than Annas. Be warned: All places mentioned in this article have questionable levels of hygiene, service and ambiance – almost none of service and ambiance. Here, we ordered some fried chicken, prawn curry, fish curry and Malabar parathas. The fried chicken was refried, hard as a rock and totally inedible. The fish curry was average, but much better than that at Annas. The stars of the show were the prawn curry and Malabar parathas, which were quite delicious and undoubtedly excellent. The curry was made using coconut oil, the taste of which isn’t accepted by many, but is quite delicious if you do accept it. It was full of the flavor of fish, prawns, coconut, garlic, onions, tomatoes and spices – brilliant! The curry went very well with the Malabar parathas which were a bit shredded, but soft and edible nonetheless.

We finished our meal with some gol gappas from the shop opposite Pasricha’s and made our way home, quite full, happy and satisfied.

Ready Reckoner:
Pasricha’s: Vadas with Sambar, Chutney
Anna’s: Brown Rice with Sambar, Fried Beef
Kerala Restaurant: Prawn Curry with Malabar Parathas, Fish Curry

– Sid

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.