Off-Duty Chef: Nishant Choubey Lists His Favourite Delhi Spots

Where do chefs eat when they clock out? In our special series, Off-Duty Chef, we ask some of the most popular chefs about their favourite food spots in and around their cities. From their go-to street food haunts and their childhood favourites to their work lunches and post-work hangs, the series will offer you a glimpse of where your favourite chefs eat, drink and hang out when they’re not feeding others!

Chef Nishant Choubey is having one of his best months. Chef Choubey, who’s an expert at Vedic cuisine and plant-based food and the consulting chef at the popular Delhi restaurant Sattvik, is celebrating the opening of Rani in New Jersey; the chef curated the menu and helped train the staff for the new Indian fine diner and bar already has some rave reviews. The chef who’s based in Delhi also loves exploring his own city and has enjoys all aspects of the culinary scene, from up-and-coming vegan cafes to momos at Chanakyapuri.

“The food scene in Delhi is definitely growing, so many new places have come up, be it the new eateries at Omaxe mall in Chandni Chowk, the Dhan Mill complex in Chattarpur, or the various food festivals at Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium. I also the rise of vegetarian and vegan joints with gluten-free offerings and conceptual plant-based eateries are coming up big time,” the chef shares. Chef Choubey took some time out to share some of his go-to Bengaluru food spots which he frequents on his days off.

Do You have a favourite vegan spot in Delhi? 

“People of Tomorrow, I always go there whenever I crave vegan dishes since I love to explore vegetarian cuisine which is also trending at the moment. In fact, I am absolutely elated to see so many expats eating vegetarian delicacies from my recent project in New Jersey, which we have named Rani. P.O.T is consistent and they also amaze me with their menus, the team of young chefs are surely killing it,” says Choubey. 

The Delhi eatery is a haven for vegan foodies and has opened a new outlet in Vasant Vihar after closing its previous outlet in The Dhan Mill shopping complex in Delhi. Founded by Ritv Kapoor, the restaurant’s menu is curated by some celebrated names including Anahita Dhondy, Surabhi Sehgal, Dhruv Nijhawan, Sambhavi Joshi and Anukriti Anand. They have a cocktail bar and some of their standout dishes are the pulled-meat croquette made with crumb-fried shredded jackfruit and Tartare De Nasu, a version of the classic French dish that features eggplant tartare with lotus stem crisps.

Your favourite breakfast spots in Delhi 

“Saravana Bhavan, Greenr Cafe and Naivedyam,” he says. “I also love to go to these small joints which are in Katwaria Sarai to have Maggie in the morning!”

While Saravana Bhavan has several outlets across Delhi and is best known for its South Indian breakfasts, the plant-based Greenr Cafe is a hit with younger foodies. Co-founded by Nitin Dixit and Mohit Yadav in 2015, the brand has championed the idea of plant meat in Delhi and is not just a cafe but a food startup. 

Your favourite modern diner or contemporary cafe?

“Cafe Lota at Pragati Maidan and Bomba at Ghitorni. Since I speak for pan-Indian cuisine and I wanted to get inspired, I found Cafe Lota at Pragati Maidan and I was kind of overwhelmed with the menu, the taste and the service too! It has my favourite Assamese chicken and Mishti doi cheesecake. Bomba has such lovely tacos and pizza and they are simply outstanding!  They are the best in the business,” shares the chef. 

Do you have any favourite street food joints in Delhi? 

“Nizams Kathi in Connaught Place also I go to eat momos or Ladakhi food at Chankyapuri,” the chef responds.

Your favourite seafood spots in Delhi 

“Sana - Di - Ge for its South Indian or Manglorean food, it has a robust flavour. At Sana-Di-Ge, one can find the best crab butter pepper garlic, Shukkas, ghee roast and Nee dosa. No wonder they are winning All the awards!” the chef smiles. 

The brand which has won awards for its coastal cuisine is named after a Tulu word. The term Sana-di-ge refers to a brass lamp lit on festive occasions across the coastal belt of Karnataka. The restaurant is famed for serving fresh seafood flown in from Mangalore daily. 

Tell us a little about your New Jersey restaurant, Rani.

Rani as it signifies queens and princesses. We are bringing the dishes which were favourites of the queens like Dal Batti was a favourite of Rani Lakshmi bai and several others. Moreover, we are connecting our food with the philosophy of Ayurveda which teaches us quite a bit, from eating seasonally and eating meetha or dessert first to including more vegetarian options and going local as local is organic. 

So we have infused various ingredients like cranberries and avocado which are fabulous (like cranberry rasam etc), we are not using any artificial colours, no broth powders or no aromates. The idea is to serve clean and let our diners eat well and mindfully and shop artisanal.