Indian cuisine varies significantly from province to province and yet restaurants tend to lump it into a “greatest hits” hodge podge. Not so at Delhi Darbar. The kitchen here is full of cooks intent on recreating their native Punjabi cuisine. This rich culinary region straddles northern India and Pakistan and is known for distinctive, complex dishes employing a melange of spices that are tempered by ghee (clarified buffalo milk butter) and cream.
Many popular elements of Indian cuisine are drawn from this region (think tandoor, naan, pakora, and biryani), which makes the food at Delhi Darbar at once familiar and excitingly different. Long-cooked lamb achari sees gamey, tender meat tamed by piquant pickles and complex notes of mustard seed and fenugreek. Dal makhani hurdles normal lentil renditions, at once spicier and creamier than your standard bowl of pulses. The Punjabi region is also a fertile farming area known for its breads, and the selection here is particularly good; from soft kulcha stuffed with caramelized onions to naan studded with toasted garlic and flaky, whole wheat layers of lacha paratha. Vegetable biryani is also worthwhile, delicate jasmine rice studded with vegetables that explode with flavor.
The restaurant itself is a long, odd space tucked in the bottom back of the Taksim Star Hotel. In the windowless room, fluorescent bulbs shed harsh light on a rather unlovely, white interior. But the food itself is rich with flavor, patiently prepared and reasonably priced. One bite of smoky baingan bharta and the eggplant, charred on an open flame until meltingly soft and mixed with the heat of chilies, cumin and ginger, will quickly carry you away to more exotic climes.
For those looking to spice up the morning meal, Delhi Darbar now serves Pakistani breakfast daily due to high demand from 9am-noon.
Any of the breads
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