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Celebrity Chef Ritu Dalmia's Guide to New Delhi


Chef Ritu Dalmia in the kitchen a Diva in New Delhi
Hi, I'm Margot!

Margot Bigg is a journalist who has lived in the UK, the US, France, and India. She’s the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India and Fodor's Pacific Northwest. Her stories have appeared in Rolling Stone India, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, and VICE.

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India's foremost expert in food from the Bel Paese, restaurateur and celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia has been instrumental in introducing authentic Italian fare to Delhi. She's the owner of multiple restaurants across Delhi, from her flagship spot Diva (the first proper Italian restaurant in Delhi by most accounts) to Café At ICC inside the embassy-run Italian Cultural Center. Dalmia has also hosted a cooking show, a food and travel show, and is the author of numerous cookbooks. Furthermore, the chef is celebrated for her role in helping legalize homosexuality in India, as one of five co-petitioners challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a Raj-era law that criminalized gay sex.

While Dalmia spends a fair bit of time in Italy—sourcing ingredients and overseeing Cittamani, her elegant Indian restaurant in Milan—she's primarily at home in Delhi, a city she knows intimately. She's the person to ask, in other words, if you want to know where to go and what to eat in India’s flourishing capital.


Dalmia is India's foremost Italian food expert. Photo: Courtesy of Ritu Dalmia

Where to find authentic Indian cuisine

When it comes to trying traditional Indian fare, Dalmia recommends going straight to the source. “If one really wants to get a taste of Indian food, I would send them to Old Delhi,” she says. Start at Chandni Chowk’s Amritsari Lassi Wala for a lassi (a yogurt-based drink); followed by Paranthe Wali Gali, a tiny lane known for its paratha (stuffed flatbread); and then Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfi Wale for kulfi (Indian ice cream).

To sample all sorts of food in one place, head to Have More on Pandara Road near India Gate “for heart-clogging North Indian fare we Delhi people love!” While for something more upscale, Dalmia suggests a meal at Indian Accent, which offers a fine-dining take on subcontinental favorites.

Don't-miss dishes for first timers in Delhi

Butter chicken from one of the Moti Mahal locations—where this Delhi favorite was invented—is one of Dalmia's top picks for travelers looking to try out traditional Indian cuisine. For street food, she lists dahi bhalla (a popular yogurt-based snack) from the stall under Old Delhi’s Central Bank, and nalli nihari (a type of meat and bone marrow stew) at Al Jawahar near Jama Masjid mosque, also in Old Delhi.

Street vendor pours chai for customers in Khari Baoli, New Delhi, India
Khari Baoli is said to be Asia's largest wholesale spice market. Photo: Amit kg / Shutterstock

Where to shop for spices and ingredients

For travelers with a culinary bent, spice shopping is among the most enjoyable experiences in Delhi, but it can be hit or miss. Dalmia's top tip is to head straight to Khari Baoli in Old Delhi, the largest wholesale market in Asia, which has been operating for centuries.

Delhi neighborhoods to explore

While many tourists flock to hotspots like hipsterish Hauz Khas Village or Khan Market, the darling of Delhi’s well-heeled, Dalmia’s suggestions will get you off the beaten track. “I love Meher Chand Market, a poor cousin of Khan Market but with many interesting stores,” she says. Other favorites include Greater Kailash, where she grew up—and the location of her celebrated flagship restaurant, Diva. She also adores Central Delhi’s Amrita Shergill Marg “for its amazingly beautiful tree lined streets.”

Mohammed Shah's tomb in Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi, India
Lodhi Gardens is home to monuments such as Mohammed Shah's tomb. Photo: Pikoso.kz / Shutterstock

How to spend the perfect day in Delhi

While many visitors to Delhi try to cram in as many tourist attractions as possible, Dalmia prefers to show her guests a more relaxed, but arguably more charming, side of the capital. She’d start with breakfast at home, followed by a visit to the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum. After a break for lunch at the museum’s own Cafe Lota or The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe nearby, Dalmia would take a post-lunch stroll in monument-filled Lodhi Gardens, before heading to Khan Market’s clothing and homeware boutiques. Khan Market is also where you’ll find Dalmia’s own Latitude 28, an adorable little eatery on the top floor of high-end home décor shop Good Earth.

The most underrated Delhi attraction

While guidebooks will point you toward Delhi's most famous attractions, the best tips for finding hidden gems come from locals. For an alternative to some of the better-known historic sites, Dalmia recommends a visit to the Khooni Darwaza in Central Delhi, which was built in the 16th century by Sher Shah Suri, known for founding the Suri Empire and taking over the Mughal Empire in 1538.

More ways to explore New Delhi's culinary scene

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Hi, I'm Margot!

Margot Bigg is a journalist who has lived in the UK, the US, France, and India. She’s the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and a co-author of Fodor's Essential India and Fodor's Pacific Northwest. Her stories have appeared in Rolling Stone India, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, and VICE.

Keep exploring
See all New Delhi tours
5,898 tours & tickets
Things to do in New Delhi
See all things to do in New Delhi
How to Spend 1 Day in New Delhi
How to Spend 1 Day in New Delhi