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Mark & Stu’s Great Indian Cook Off – Part 1 – Delhi

New Delhi… The Start of the cook off

At the moment India is becoming a more and more popular destination. At the beginning of July 2017, Joanna Lumley is set to a full series touring India. This will really open your eyes to what a fantastic destination it really is.
In April this year myself and Stuart were fortunate enough to experience a tour called the great Indian cook off. This is a tour from North to South of India exploring all its history and culture but also involving a more in depth look at Indian food and how it differs from each destination.
The tour itself is a luxury tour taking in some wonderful hotels, sights and for anyone that has never been to India before it is a perfect option to experience it in style.
India Tour 2017

The Flight

We flew from London to Delhi with Jet airways on our first day. I was really impressed with Jet as they were very modern, clean and good food. The flight time was around 7.5 hours.
Sheraton Delhi Food

Arrival into Delhi & The Sheraton

Arriving into Delhi the next morning to 38 degree heat we had started our tour. At arrivals, we were greeted by out transfer and taken to the hotel in a nice air conditioned 4×4 vehicle that is used throughout the tour. Bottled water, anti bac gel and an informative transfer to the hotel. Arriving into Delhi was a huge culture shock for us. Life is so different, hectic, congested and also we noticed such a huge divide between rich and poor. It was crazy for us to see how there was no sense of danger, families of 4 on a motorbike going through the city without any helmets etc.
We arrived into our first hotel the Sheraton, New Delhi. Greeted with warm welcome and looked after immediately we checked into our room with a wonderful view of the city. The location of the hotel is in South Delhi which is a nice area and we felt safe to go out of the hotel and walk around. Next door to the hotel is a huge shopping mall with all the major brands and eating places such as the Hard Rock etc.
After checking in we got a call from the executive chef to go down and sample some of the award-winning cuisine at the hotel. The Sheraton has a great restaurant which has a casual feel to it with multi cuisine options. The chef talked us through how to ease out stomachs in on arrival and what different varieties of food are on offer. The black Dahl is an absolute must with some fresh baked Naan… The variety of naan is vast, feta cheese, mince, garlic, tomato, whatever takes your fancy.

In the afternoon, we spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and catching up on some sleep ready for the next day of our tour.

Time for some sights

After a big breakfast with a huge choice we started our day visiting some of the most iconic sights within old and new Delhi. We had a private guide who was just great. We visited Haymauns tomb which is very similar to the Taj Mahal, one of the great mosques.
In the afternoon, this was the most exciting part for me. We picked up a tuk tuk and started exploring old Delhi. As we go through the busy streets you get a real feel for what Delhi is like. This part incorporated a street food tour which we were a little wary of as we didn’t want to get ‘Delhi belly’. However, the guide reassured us they would only take us to places where the food was of the best in old Delhi. We ate at a small samosa stall first with a mint pea samosa which had so much taste and completely different to what we experience at home.
He then took us to a famous ‘paratha’ restaurant. Paratha is a style of bread which you can have with all different fillings. My favourite was the tomato and the potato bread. You also get a serving of various mild curries and lentils to dip which was so tasty! The atmosphere was little bizarre as we were the only tourists in the restaurant and it was full of locals, eating and chatting away. A great experience though and we have a new-found love of Paratha.

Old Delhi In a Tuk Tuk

After a day of sightseeing we were food’ed out so had some drinks in the hotel bar. The staff are so friendly and give you a great insight into all the local knowledge. We also wanted to venture out of the hotel for a bit of nightlife so we went to Hard Rock in the DLF mall next door. Great atmosphere, lots of locals (we were the only westerners there) and good cocktails.

Cooking with Shivani

This part of the whole tour was one of my absolute highlights and I would highly recommend this to anyone doing a stop in Delhi. Shivani welcomed us into her home to experience a real taste of Punjabi food. As we arrived she put beautiful smelling Jasmine flowers around our necks and then a small line of red paint on our foreheads. We sat in the lounge and some lovely drinks, and were made to feel at home straight away.

Shivani served us some appetizers which were vegetable kebabs. At the time we visited Shivani it was Navrati which is a Hindu festival. This is where they do not eat meat or drink alcohol for a 9 day period. I have fallen in love with veggie food. I think at home I eat so much meat that to have some of the veg food was a nice change.

After out appetisers it was time to get down to business. We donned the aprons and helped Shivani prepare our lunch in the kitchen. We had a mixture of dishes including my now favourite Shai Paneer. Paneer is a soft cheese in India in cubes, it’s so tasty and a good alternative to meat in curry. We had a go at making chapattis and Stuart became a bit of a pro at


After cooking we all sat down for lunch together and ate all the lovely food that Shivani has prepared. It was sooooo tasty! Shivani’s husband Kapil joined us for lunch and he made me laugh as he was such a great character. After dinner we chatted and swapped contacts details and we honestly felt like we were having dinner with friends. Shivani and Kapil are like a dynamic duo, friendly, humorous and a great happy couple to be around. If you’re visiting Delhi, a visit to Shivani’s is a MUST.


If you’re visiting Delhi, a visit to Shivani’s is a MUST.

To be continued…. Part 2 Lucknow & Hyderabad

Each week we will publish a different part of the tour

If you are interested in a tour of India for your next holiday speak to Mark or Stuart today on 0203 189 1381 or contact us

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