Go time-travelling with your taste-buds to the 1940s at this iconic Delhi restaurant
At a time when new eateries pop up and disappear in the wink of an eye, The Embassy Restaurant has withstood the passage of time for more than half a century. The Embassy was set up in Connaught Place in 1948 by two friends who’d had to abandon a flourishing restaurant business in Karachi to start anew in Delhi.
These days, the restaurant has turned into something of a culinary landmark that evokes memories of a bygone era. The colonial influence reflects in the wooden interiors and high ceilings; and in the menu. The Embassy, in its early days, was heavily patronised by western guests, and the menu reflects a time when the restaurant’s Indian cuisine was specially modified to appeal to the European palate.
We began our meal with Embassy’s renowned tandoori chicken. Prepared with a unique blend of dry spices, the recipe was brought from Pakistan in 1948 and has remained the same ever since. The chicken was juicy and the spices blended perfectly with each other. It was followed by a crisp cheese cutlet, which I hear used to be quite a winner amongst the European crowd. Then came the humungous Embassy samosa that can easily pass off as a whole meal.
The main course began with channa bhatura. The bhaturas were light and fluffy and the channa was spiced just right. According to some records, it was the Embassy that first introduced this dish to Delhi back in 1948. Another evergreen favourite was the murg mussalam which was introduced in 1952. This dish consisted of a chicken breast cooked in a creamy almond sauce, not spicy, but literally dripping with flavour. The winner for me though, was a dish first introduced in 1960, the dal meat—mutton slow-cooked with lentils and spices.
You cannot complete your meal here without tasting the glorious Embassy pudding. Even the menu says ‘No words, just try’ for this one. The meal was rounded off with a serving of the choicest langda aam caramelised to perfection.
Savar Malhotra, who belongs to the third generation of the family, strives hard to maintain the legacy of the iconic restaurant. Since the Embassy has a fair number of loyalists who prefer their food exactly as it has always been, Savar didn’t get much leeway when he tried to revamp the menu, he said. In fact, several regular patrons protested when he tried to change the way the restaurant served french fries with the much-loved tomato fish. He gave up on any further innovation and calmly accepted that the restaurant’s USP is its culinary legacy and evergreen dishes. We couldn’t agree more.