There’s been a shift now in what we want to consume. From the one-time excitement that fast food chains stirred up, especially those coming in from abroad, more and more people have started looking for authentic cuisine and food experiences instead.
Delhi is one of those cities that is always happy to engage in experimental eating and try new cuisines. We love finding new places to eat, even before the days of Zomato and food blogs, it was the word of mouth that drew in crowds and we were more than happy to share our secret gems with others. Whether it’s a new establishment or an age-old landmark rediscovered, here, there is always someone ready to try it out, a new place and style of eating. There’s a community of people who love food, and with groups like Food Talk India that started in the city, it is thriving. Whether it’s Vietnamese food, Himalayan cuisine or Korean BBQ, there’s an audience for it in the national capital.
Yeti - The Himalayan Kitchen opened in Hauz Khas Village in 2011, a time when the market was frequented by people in search for cheap drinks, before the burst of bars and clubs we now witness. Here, Yeti became a Sunday lunch hot spot, more than just another pub in HKV, it became a novel experience. Founded by Ardahun Pinky Passah and Tenzing Sonam, Yeti’s significance grew as a pioneer of a different kind of cuisine and culture that they introduced to the tastebuds of the capital. Their platters were filled with the authentic flavours and tastes of the Himalayan region – right from parts of Tibet and Nepal to Bhutan and North East Indian areas of Meghalaya and even ‘Pahari’ Uttarakhand. News of their home-style charm and food spread like wildfire, and finding a place to sit near the big windows, overlooking the beautiful greenery and the tomb was a game of first come-first serve. The wooden interiors, prayer flags and mandalas, traditionally dressed staff and melodic music came together to create an illusionary ambience of a Himalayan escape from the noise and crowds of Delhi.
Our hearts collectively broke when Yeti shut down. There were so many people who either tried the food and wanted to go back or had heard about it and never had a chance to experience it. People were almost willing it to come back, and Yeti did in a big way with two outlets now, one in Hauz Khas Village and another in Greater Kailash.
What keeps people going back, what Yeti has continued to bring to the table is authenticity. “My partner Tenzing Sonam, 29, and I felt there was a need for a restaurant that served authentic Himalayan cuisine (Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and some Northeastern states) as people’s knowledge of our food, and culture was limited to just chowmein and momos. But it’s so much more than that. Another, perhaps more honest, reason was the fact that we missed home food,” said Passah in an interview with India Today when Yeti first opened. It’s not just what’s on their plates, but the people that get it there as well. From the wait staff to their head chef, Passah goes on to explain that they make sure that all the people they hire are familiar with Himalayan food – “otherwise our menu would be a poor facsimile of the real thing.”
The Himalayan approach also extends to their menu in terms of cooking and food preparations. As much of the meat is used as possible - there is no wastage, and the same idea extends into Yeti’s menu creation. So if you’re a seasoned and experimental eater, here you’ll find Bhutun (goat maws stir-fried in special spices) and Cheley (boiled or fried buff offals with vegetables and spices) on the menu, so you know what to dig into. If it’s your first brush with Himalayan cuisine then start slow with some delectable mutton momos (or their famous aloo momos), Crispy Spinach served with Tingmo, Ema Datchi (a Bhutanese dish made with chilli pepper and cheese) and the Yeti Special Thukpa. You could always go with one of their delicious thalis for a little taste of everything.
Feature image courtesy of Yeti - The Himalayan Kitchen via Zomato.
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