Carnatic Cafe, Eight Years Later (Delhi, March 2022)

It has been eight years since our first meal at Carnatic Cafe—but that meal was not at this Carnatic Cafe exactly. Back in 2014 there was only one location of Carnatic Cafe, in the Friends Colony market. Now, as with almost every successful restaurant in Delhi, it has multiple locations all over the National Capital Region—including a new one at Terminal 3 in the international airport; indeed, I think that original location may no longer be in business, or may have moved into more upscale digs in some shiny new mall or the other. And it was at one of these newer, albeit not very shiny, locations—in Greater Kailash-II’s M block market—that I met up with a bunch of old friends for lunch a few days before returning to Minnesota last week. Here’s how it went. Continue reading


Carnatic Cafe (Delhi, January 2014)

I apologize for not having a whisky review on International Whisky Day, which marks the birthday of the late, great whisky writer, Michael Jackson. I do have news that will delight the majority of my whisky-focused readership: this is the last of my food reports from our Delhi trip earlier this year. (You could, of course, skip this and instead read the Aberlour A’Bunadh vertical I published last year on this day, when my blog was still very new.)

Anyway: this is a report on a very nice and very casual meal at Carnatic Cafe, a small restaurant in the Friends Colony shopping center in South Delhi that serves what has been for many decades now one of the most popular cuisines in India, and the only one that could rival the reach and popularity of Mughlai and Indian Chinese food. I refer, of course, to familiar South Indian vegetarian food: idlis, dosas, vadas and so forth. I apologize for being so geographically inexact–I am just trying to give a sense of the view from the not very culturally sensitive North. It is only relatively recently and still not particularly pervasively that this food has been identified in North India with more specific South Indian locations, and most specifically with the name “Udupi”. In my youth all of South India was contained in the descriptor “Madrasi” and this food generally had that or some other recognizable signifier of South Indianness slapped onto it. Continue reading