City Food – Ghar Ka Khana Platter, India International Center
Homely khana for the elite.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Why would anybody anybody go to a restaurant just to eat home cooking?
But that’s exactly one of the items listed in the menu at the elite India International Center, a club for members only.
The IIC’s gossip-friendly dining hall features multiple cuisines. Much-loved dishes include not only roast mutton, fish tikka, garlic toast and honey-and-fig ice cream, but also something called Ghar Jaisa Khana. True to its name, the special platter offers strictly home-like fare — kathal ki subzi, aloo tamatar, masoor dal, and plain dahi were served to The Delhi Walla the evening I dined there. The thali really looked as simple as the one at home, except for the fancy bread basket for flat rotis.
“The platter was introduced in the dining hall before I started working here… more than a decade ago,” the waiter told me in a hushed whisper — one is not supposed to raise one’s voice here.
The IIC patrons consist of Delhi’s important people, who are more interested in conversation than the menu. Here’s where political alliances are rumored to be considered and sometimes created.
While forking their way through Spinach Florentine, one might learn the real dope about inside deals, author Ranjana Sengupta, an IIC regular since the 70s, once told me. It’s even suggested that the premiership of one prime minister was hatched here.
Only political insiders know for sure whether the IIC is favoured by the current rulers.
A longtime member complained that the ham and beef sandwiches had been phased out of the menu many years ago. She complained that “as people became more rigid in the world outside, the non-kosher dishes inside went off one by one and today we have a platter called Ghar Jaisa Khana.”
But the homely platter doesn’t deserve such censure. Perhaps no other Delhi restaurant offers such a light touch with their Indian selections. There is judicious use of oil and spices, and no attempt whatsoever is made to make ordinary dishes complicated.
Indeed, if art is defined as the celebration of ordinary life, then ordering Ghar Jaisa Khana at the IIC is surely the act of a true snob.
Note: If, like me, you have long been denied IIC membership, just latch on to friends who happen to be members.
A homage to home food