Settled by Tibetan’s who fled their country after it was occupied by the Chinese, Delhi’s Tibetan Colony is a pocket of Tibetan culture in India. There’s a sense that the people here cling particularly tightly to their culture and traditions in an attempt to preserve their identity despite displacement. One important part of that culture is the food and the colony offers the chance to try some really exiting Tibetan dishes.
Searching around on the web, it seemed like Tee Dee’s restaurant was the place to go. I wandered around the maze of alleys for a while trying to find this place, asking different people who recognised the name but could only give me vague directions. Finally, more by chance than anything, I managed to track it down. Clambering up the stairs, I entered into gloomy interior that had a vaguely spiritual atmospher, the people were murmuring softly in the dim light. A group of monks dressed in rich red robes sat around the table in the corner, slurping at bowls of noodles.
Almost everyone I knew who’d been to the north east of India had raved about the momo (R 50) dumplings you could get, so I was expecially eager to try these here. They didn’t dissapoint. Despite being large dumplings, stuffed full of pork, they didn’t taste heavy at all. The wrapper was perfectly soft, with none of that chewiness some dumpling suffer from. The meat was also really soft, with a butterness to it which made each dumpling melt in the mouth.
I also had the chili beef (R 60) which I’d read was a typical Tibetan dish. Taking the waiters advice, I chose the dry version, which reminded me a lot of some of the beef dishes in China but had less onion mixed in with the meat and overall tasted heavier. It felt particularly hearty with quite tough, slightly fatty pieces of beef fried with garlic and a nicely fiery scattering of chili. I could sense people up in the mountains eating this to fill them up. It had a slightly crude, yet very wholesome flavour that I enjoyed a lot.
With this, I got the tingmo, which is a dense steamed bread, twisted so that you can tear of different spongy strands. The bread was nicely soft and tasted freshly steamed – it would have been perfect to eat with the gravy version of the chili beef, but with the dry version was a bit redundant and added to the almost overwhelming heaviness of the meal.
I also had the Tibetan tea, which was very soft and milky, adding to the overall feeling of eating very wholesome filling food. Eating and drinking all of this, I really felt transported to somewhere in the Tibetan plateau where life was rustic and food needed to be substantial and filling, just piqued a little by garlic and chili.
The easiest way to get to the Tibetan Colony (Majnu Ka Tilla) is to take the yellow line metro to the final stop Vishwavidiyala. You can then walk to the colony in about 15 minutes, or take a rickshaw. To walk, turn left when you come out of the metro and walk along Mall Road, crossing the perpendicular roads Brig SK Mazumdar, Lucknow road, and Timarpur road. Then take the fourth left onto the slightly dusty Magazine roads, which winds round to the left a little and then to the right. Follow the road to its end and in front you will see the Majnu Ka Tilla Sihk temple which has a big white dome. Cross over to the temple side of the road, and facing the temple turn left. Keep walking along here for about 5 minutes and you will see the Tibetan colony on your right. It has a gate marked ‘Tibetan Colony’.
Because the alleys of the Tibetan colony are such a maze, its hard to give exact directions to the restaurant. The best thing to do is go there, make your way towards the centre of the colony and then ask people in the shops for Tee Dee’s. It’s described as behind the Tibetan School, but that may not be so helpful. Its on one of the larger streets, possibly the one leading off the main square, and is upstairs with a large flight of stairs leading up towards it.
Dishes between R 50 and 70