India is a country that is best enjoyed when the traveller makes full use of all his senses. The kaleidoscopic colours of a Hindu temple, the hot sugar smell of jabeli being fried at a roadside stall, the laughter and shouts of a billion people busying about their lives. More than anything, India is a foodies paradise. From simple vegetarian curries so spicy theyll burn your tongue off, to the sizzling stacks of Persian kebabs, there is a culinary delight around every corner. For the best of the best, though, the refined traveller must follow his taste buds cross-country, from the splendorous decadence of Mumbais colonial palaces to the silent shores of enchanting Udaipur: 1. Bukhara, New Delhi You need to be a certain calibre of chef to have your meat dishes describable as melt-in- the-mouth. Bukharas are some of the finest in the country. Tucked away in the luxurious ITC Mauriya hotel, Bukhara has an earthy, timeless feel. It serves frontier food from the North-West; slow-cooked tandoor dishes spiced to perfection. This is food designed to appeal to all the senses, where even celebrity guests are encouraged to eat with their hands. Their dal is world-famous, but its the kebabs which steal the show: impossibly soft, tender, and bursting with flavoured juices. Visit, and youll understand why Bukhara is regarded as cooking some of the best cuisine in the whole of Asia. 2. Ambrai, Udaipur Few Indian towns are as magical as Udaipur, a city familiar to James Bond aficionados as the backdrop to Octopussy. Ambrai, nestled on the shores of the glittering Lake Pichola, is unrivalled for both its food and its view. Although spectacular by day, Ambrai is best enjoyed by candlelight, when the Lake Palace and other landmarks light up against the night sky. Serving mouth-watering Rajasthani specials in cauldron-shaped pots alongside a cocktail menu that begs to be sampled, Ambrai oozes unparalleled romanticism. 3. Peacock Rooftop Restaurant, Jaipur Jaipur is a hectic city, so visitors looking to get away from it all could do a lot worse than climbing to the roof of the Pearl Palace Hotel and spending a couple of hours in the charming Peacock Rooftop Restaurant. With staff draping blankets over the shoulders of customers feeling the twilight chill, this is the place to sip a lassi while admiring the twinkling lights of the Pink City. The food is delicious and the whole thing decked out like a mystical garden. Unmissable. 4. Sea Lounge, Mumbai When it comes to sheer splendour, nowhere matches High Tea at the Taj Mahal Palace. The British-infused banquet is held in the Sea Lounge, where those patrons tucked into the arched alcoves can admire the picturesque Mumbai Harbour spread out beneath them. Tinkling piano keys and old colonial charm are the order of the day as traditional afternoon tea delicacies are served up next to their Indian counterparts. Expect incredible cake and the finest tea India has to offer. 5. Konkan Café, Mumbai The Taj President may be less famous than its sister hotel but the south Indian coastal food served up in its Konkan Café is simply unmissable. Based on designs inspired by a traditional Keralan House, the roof of the restaurant is designed to replicate a star-studded night sky. Order the excellent thali (South Indian chutneys are divine) and be sure to leave room for dessert – the elaneer payasam here is the best in the country. 6. Karim, New Delhi Slap bang in the middle of heaving New Delhi, at first glance bustling Karims doesnt scream luxury. But dont be fooled: this is a restaurant for royalty. That epithet is literal, for the owners are descended from the cooks to the royal court. The splendour of the Mogul empire is preserved in the dishes on offer: grilled meats which generally come in the form of spicy kebabs, although the adventurous can order fried brain or an entire roasted goat. Now over a century old, Karims is not just one of Delhis oldest restaurants, but one of its most authentic.
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