Bagundi 2 (Delhi, January 2020)

From the North East to the south and to a restaurant I first ate at on my trip to Delhi in December 2018. Bagundi, located in M block on the Connaught Place outer circle, features the food of Andhra Pradesh. The state in fact split into two in 2014, or rather a new state, Telangana was carved out of the north-western parts of the old Andhra Pradesh. As far as I can make out, Bagundi’s conception of Andhra food is not affected by these border re-drawings: their menu features most of the dishes I would have expected to see on an Andhra menu prior to 2014.

As you would remember if you had only memorized the details of my solo meal there in 2018, I really liked the food at Bagundi. I ate a thali then and was hoping to go back on this trip for dinner with a larger crew and take fuller measure of their a la carte menu. In practice, things didn’t quite work out that way. Instead it was just the four of us at lunch, prior to a visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art (another Delhi institution that is apparently destined for demolition and re-location in the near future (along with much of the iconic area between India Gate and the president’s palace). Accordingly, the missus and I both got a thali each and for the boys—who, increasingly adventurous though they are, are not ready for Andhra food, which can be very hot indeed—we got a half order of tandoori chicken, naan and a Malabar paratha.

The thalis are still constructed as they were on my last visit. You get a large platter with rice, rasam, sambar, dal, sesame chutney, the veg dish of the day, curd, pickles, papad, a lentil fritter, dessert, and depending on what you get as the centerpiece of the thali, a couple of non-veg dishes. On my first visit I had the mutton thali which came with mutton pulusu and a drier mutton fry. On this occasion I got the fish thali which came with fish pulusu and fish fry (bloody excellent). The missus got the mixed seafood thali which came with the same fish curry plus crab fry (also bloody excellent). Oh yes, she got her thali with pooris and I got a large chapati.

Our selections might make you think that Andhra food is fish-centered and that this is evidence for the assertion in a recent ridiculous Bon Appétit video that South Indian food is apparently all about fish and seafood. Now certainly there’s a lot of fish eaten in the coastal South Indian states but just one look at Bagundi’s menu will disabuse you of the notion that Andhra cuisine is not heavier, on the whole, on meat. Oh yes, the same video also features a North Indian restaurant owner in New York who also says airily about the South that they “know nothing about ghee”. In fact, when your thali is put down on the table at Bagundi, accompanying it will be a honking great bowl of ghee! I might have more to say about that Bon Appétit video soon but in the meantime just remember that you cannot trust anything Bon Appétit and their resident Indian expert say about Indian food.

Anyway, the fish and crab fries were standouts but everything else was very good too.

Ok, on to the pictures of the restaurant and the food. As you’ll see, it’s still done up in the same attractive style and very little seems to have changed in the past year. (There are more pictures still of the restaurant in my first review.) We were eating early by Delhi standards and so the restaurant only began to fill up as we were leaving at around 1.30.

All of this food plus some soft drinks and water and included service charge came to about Rs. 2300 or just about $33. Counting the kids as one adult that’s about $11/head. A bit more expensive than our meals at Hornbill and Eat Pham but rents in Connaught Place are a lot higher probably than in Humayunpur.

I would once again recommend Bagundi highly if you are visiting Delhi and have no plans to go to Hyderabad or Andhra Pradesh. The heat level is toned down a bit for the Delhi palate—Andhra food can be up there with Sichuan for heat—but this is still very good food. And far more manageable (especially with children) than the more chaotic canteen at Andhra Bhavan. If you’re by yourself or in a pair, get a thali and you will be happy.


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