Thalis From INR 150 & Lots Of Veg Food: This Manipuri Cafe Just Got A Cool Makeover

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We’ve been to Categorical Eat Pham when it could barely seat five people at a time. On our last visit a month ago, we saw a peppy little under-construction place that we figured was actually our favourite Manipuri joint of all times shifting to a bigger {and definitely a better looking} space. 

Green Signal To This

After emerging from our initial joy of finding quiet in a city that loves horns, we were at once taken in by how cosy the place felt. Bathed in soft yellow light and with pops of happy green, it struck us as just the kind of place we’d retire to when we needed good music and homey North-Eastern food.

We loved the authentic flavours they’ve managed to recreate without killing us with spice, or going overboard on the oil. It obviously helps that they focus on getting the freshest ingredients and local herbs on every trip home, so they can match the original taste. The result: Every dish turns out to be a star in its own right. We can tell you that everything we ate had such a distinct character that, for those few brief moments, we could pretend that we were someplace else.

The Buff Of Dreams

We began our evening with a special buff thali that came with condiments, subzis, steamed rice and a whole new world of interesting flavours. Manipuri dal, karela chutney, steamed pumpkin, buff curry and a spicy vegetable in fermented fish broth… The portions were big enough for a very hungry meat-eater and he loved that the buff was spicy, but lean and unaccompanied by guilt.

The vegetarian was overjoyed with the sheer variety on the menu, but decided to go with stir-fried chickpea and their special pakoras dunked in a soupy gravy and topped with crunchy chana. The former was comforting, and the pakora soup was a brilliant marriage of soft koftas and hot soup… Just the two things to make a winter evening in Delhi worth loving.

The final course was the black rice pudding had the peculiar aroma of edible camphor in the usual kheer and, while a part of us felt like we were eating a small temple, we couldn’t stop eating it anyway. The proof, as they say, is always in the pudding.

So, We're Saying...

If your middle name is ‘big appetite’, it makes sense to land up on the weekend, because they are going to have buffet lunches and dinners on Saturday and Sunday.

P.S. Wash down all the khana with a glass of cold, rice beer {your stomach will thank you for it}.