Hidden Gem…

…My diet here in India has been almost strictly vegetarian. Religious practices forbid even bringing meat into the house. Just about every meal comes with chapati, a pure wheat flatbread that is a nice filler but is certainly overused. Dal is the next most popular item that we eat here. It is a yellow to brown soup made of dried lentils. Wherever the dal goes, chapati follows. Next on the rotation is a lightly curried mixture of potato and cauliflower. Sometimes, we also get a salad of chopped radish and cucumber. Breakfasts are usually a sugary version of chapati on which I like to add mixed fruit jam. These five dishes, plus chai tea and water, comprise about 80% of my diet. On rare occasions, rice is substituted in the place of chapati.

–A common lunch or dinner. We were sampling the green chilly too during this meal–

Today, however, we found a hidden gem of a restaurant. At the convergence of Sectors 7 and 10 is the Sector 10 market. It is about a 20 minute walk north of our home stay. I walk through it just about every day coming home from work or to go buy necessities. It is a dusty, loud, and unappealing stretch of road. I thought we would never find a good place to eat around here. Then we happened upon the unassuming Ever Green Restaurant.

Like most Indian establishments, little effort seemed to be given to its outward appearance. Hence, I had passed it dozens of times without ever giving it a chance. This time, however, we noticed that it had a picture of chicken tikka above the door which drew us in immediately.

A short walk upstairs led us into a much more cosmopolitan and modern dining room. I was just as impressed by the atmosphere here as I had been at the barber shop last week. We were the only people in the restaurant, but it was only noon, so it didn’t bother me. We’re used to eating lunch around 2 or 3pm and dinner around 8 or 9pm here.

We ordered what we thought would be an appropriate amount of meat and waited impatiently while trying to figure out the scoring of the five-day cricket test match between India and Australia that was playing on TV (which was a luxury because it was running on either a generator or batteries since the power was out).

Then the food started coming, and coming, and coming. The server waited on us like we were royalty, serving each person every dish and assuring that were completely satisfied. It was Indian food like I had never eaten before, and it was superb! We ate dishes called boneless butter chicken, chicken rara, chicken tikka, chicken seekh kabab, a mixed “non-veg” platter, and butter naan that was practically lethal. I had thought the dishes would be somewhat small since we ordered Rs 200 ($4) half-orders. They were not.

For $8 per person, we felt like kings eating our last supper. A meal this good and with this much meat in the states would have easily cost over $80. Right as we were paying the bill and thinking that nothing could have been better, a mouse ran from under the table next to us. I pretended not to notice and tried to forget about it. Maybe he was the cook from Ratatouille! Even with the mouse, I think we found our home away from home away from home.


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