Daal is a staple all over India, with at least as many regional variations as days of the year, but none I have ever tried is as good as the daal at the Jamavar Restaurant in New Delhi’s Leela Palace. On mentioning this to the waiter, I was proudly told that, indeed, the restaurant had won the New Delhi Gourmet Club’s “Best Daal Makhni” award. So, should you find yourself in New Delhi anytime soon, don’t miss the opportunity to try it.
Of course, daal is not enough on its own, so I’d recommend starting with deliciously spicy tiger prawns marinated in lemon juice, garlic, chillies, yoghurt and garam masala (Rs2,200, about £23.50). Pair the star attraction, Daal Jamavar (about £8), made with black Urad lentils, ginger, garlic, tomato purée, a dash of fenugreek powder and a swirl of fresh cream, with either the succulent lamb simmered with fresh ginger and coconut milk (about £16) or the lobster with tomato masala (about £28). I loved the additional side of baby aubergine slow-cooked with tamarind and south Indian spices (about £9.50) – a vegetable quota that was richly indulgent. And it would be churlish not to finish with a few Gulab Jamun (about £4): white cheese dumplings deep-fried and drenched in rose-scented syrup – although, perhaps, order them to share, given their plumpness.