After a late morning walking Colaba's gauntlet of money changers, peacock and folk instrument pushers, pashmina stores, perfume sellers and the constant, sometimes annoying 'yes please' of overly desperate salesmen, its nice to have Delhi Darbar located so conveniently close on the other side of the street. Waiting as we were for a pair of jeans to be hemmed, we arrived at Delhi Darbar for a late (by western standards, right on time by Indian standards) lunch.
I've been to Delhi Darbar many times before with my parents as we've always found them to be decently priced and of reliable quality. When I'm in India I tend to go for some of the more unusual curries I'll never find in Australia, but Alissa just had to try what good Indian Tikka tastes like so she could see how far most Australian places fall short.
We decided on an order of the familiar Chicken Tikka Masala and the slightly more unusual Mutton Kadai, served with our usual order of garlic naan. The Chicken Tikka Masala was very good, with the chicken having that lovely, smokey flavour and texture of meat that can only come from having been cooked in a tandoor. Paired with the creamy, buttery, tomato-rich curry, its what I wish all tikka masalas back home tasted like. I mean, I know that they say there is no standard recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala but at the very least the chicken in tikka masala should taste like its been cooked in a Tandoor – many of the so-called tikka masalas in Perth fail to pass the test.
The Lamb Kadai had a cashewy sauce that I've had more often with chicken than lamb, though seeing it with the lamb made me realise its similarity to a middle eastern dish in Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook. The lamb itself was melt-in-your-mouth soft, and the sauce was deliciously smooth, creamy and decadent as northern style curries tend to be – just the way I like it. Definitely something I need to order with lamb more often.
Alissa and I mopped up most of the two curries dutifully with our garlic naan. The naan was good, but not as good as the crazily garlic-encrusted and drenched in butter naan you can get at Trishna. We ordered two serves each, and even then we had to leave some of the curry behind on the plate as the serves of curry were very generous.
We decided to share two desserts. My dessert order was one of my favourite desserts in India – mango kulfi. Kulfi is a fairly common dessert, but we found on our trip that its much harder to get the mango variety. Delhi Darbar's mango kulfi is amongst my favourites, having the delicious cardamon flavour of kulfi with the extra sweet fruitiness of mango added. Alissa agreed that the mango variety was very nice, though she still preferred the falooda-style kulfi we've had with the noodles and rose water.
As our other dessert we had gulab jamun. The gulab jamuns we had in India were all roughly of the save level of excellence and this was no different – nice and warm, with that delicious taste of fried dough soaked in cardamon sugar syrup.
The Verdict: Very Good
Compared to Indian restaurants back home in Australia, Delhi Darbar produces better food than what I would expect from the better curry houses around town and at a fraction of the price curries of this quality go for back in Perth. As a cheap and casual family restaurant located in the happening markets of Colaba, its hard to pass up – especially for that mango kulfi.