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Tuesday, June 15, 2010


In my recent post on the subject of Indian food in Prague, I mentioned that I was looking forward to checking out the new curry house / cocktail bar that has recently opened in Vinohrady, Dilli Delhi. And so yesterday evening my Indian friend Tango Man and I finally headed down for a visit. Tango Man had already been once the previous week, and had apparently really liked the place.

The interior was quite cavernous and plain, which I would not normally mind (back in the UK I’ve invariably found that the quality of the curry is in direct proportion to the dinginess of the surroundings) but for the notable lack of aeration in the main basement dining area. A musty smell permeated as a result, which somehow brought to mind that peculiar odour of stale air and school carpet that anyone who also spent their miserable years of adolescence at a bog-standard British comprehensive will undoubtedly recognise.

Separate food, drink and cocktail menus were promptly brought to the table. With Dilli Delhi's rather dour interior, it didn’t really strike me as the ideal venue for a cocktail bar, but as at least one of the staff here worked previously for Bombay Bar, it’s fairly understandable that they’d want to make the most of their drink-making talents, I suppose. As for Tango Man and I, we just went for a large Budweiser at 40č (him) and a glass of the unnamed House White at 35kč (me).

Naturally we started off with a couple of pappadums a 5kč per pop. Dilli Delhi doesn’t offer a pickle tray as such on the menu, but on request the waiter brought out two little bowls of lime pickle and mango chutney. I missed having the full whammy of raita, onion salad etc to dip into on a proper spinning tray.

The food menu wasn’t the most expansive for a traditional curry house (but then again, neither was Rasoi’s as I recall), but on the upside this at least saved on the usual agony of choice in selection (bhuna?? dopiaza?? chicken tikka masala?? etc etc...). For the mains, we in the end went for the chicken jalfrezi (175kč) and chicken masala (160kč). Tango Man had had the jalfrezi (a shared favourite) on his previous visit, and professed it to be very good.

The sharp-eyed among you will no doubt have noticed the pieces of diced carrots and peas within the jalfrezi dish, rather than the strips of fresh red and green pepper and sautéed onion that traditionally constitute the vegetable contingent of this dish. What is not quite so obvious from the photo, however, was that there were also pieces of broccoli (yes, seriously, broccoli) mixed in as well. Clearly the dish had been cobbled inexpertly together with a mixed bag of supermarket frozen vegetables (and not even the right bloody vegetables), a fact confirmed by Tango Man with the waiter (also Indian), who did at least have the good grace to look embarrassed at the fact. Apparently they had a new head chef starting that day, which explained the difference in quality between first and second visit at least. Either way, we both felt it was a real let down for the dish, which in terms of spice, flavour and quality of the meat was actually otherwise pretty acceptable.

Luckily Dilli Delhi fared somewhat better with the chicken masala. I’d expected a rather more creamy version of the dish, but the rich tomato sauce and tender chicken went down just as well, if not better. I could have done with a bit more spice, but then again I do have a pretty high "hot" threshold.

As sundries we decided to skip the rice in favour of the breads, going for the aloo kulcha (pictured first) and onion kulcha, both priced at 45kč.

The aloo kulcha was excellent, being really thick, tasty and moist – we couldn’t fault it at all. The onion kulcha, on the other hand, was very thin and dry by comparison, with very little flavour of onion. Tango Man had also ordered this bread on his last visit, and proclaimed this version notably inferior by comparison.

So all in all, not the most successful of first impressions, and I can’t help wishing I’d gone sometime during the previous fortnight, when - according to discussions on expats.cz at least - it seemed to garner far more positive reviews. Perhaps we’d simply been unlucky in experiencing a new chef’s first night teething troubles, but that said, the frozen broccoli / carrot / pea jalfrezi was - under whatever circumstances - something of an unforgiveable abomination, and the interior itself fairly irreversibly pretty fusty and unappealing.

When it comes to curry, I’m always genuinely disappointed to be the bearer of bad news, especially when it comes to previously promising sounding new places. However, until I hear otherwise, I will be sticking with Curry House as my top Indian restaurant in Prague, and unfortunately giving Dilli Delhi a wide berth until their new chef supposedly raises their game...


  1. I'm so disappointed; I was really looking forward to trying this place out. I've been reasonably happy with Masala (close to where I live), but it's always nice to have options.

    I've never had much to do with restaurant management (and don't want to, thanks!), but owners all over the world whine about their staff. The difference is those who know how to recognise and keep the good workers (no matter how crazy, as long as they add value to the restaurant).

    Listen owners, from a potential customer's point of view, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I have almost never complained about properly good food in this country being too expensive. If your fantastically skilled crazy chef (is there any other kind?) is about to do a runner here? Do what it takes to keep him/her or replace him with same. Don't bother opening an eatery in the first place if you're not up with this. Note that your restaurant is open 6 or 7 days a week, not the 2 or 3 your crazy chef will agree to work. Don't pretend to serve me the same menu for the same price when the head chef is off. This will kill your restaurant. Those of us who know the work schedules here will visit restaurants accordingly (and will complain incessantly on the off days). You are deluding yourselves as business owners if you think we don't notice.

    The Americans are masters at marketing. They have always said "A happy customer tells 1 friend, an unhappy customer tells 10." For what it's worth, there are dozens of "Indian" restaurants in this town that don't care about our custom either, so join the list if you insist. It's reckoned in the West that about 75% of restaurants go bankrupt in the first year. Penny-wise, pound-foolish?

    DD, when I've visit you I'll expect proper Indian food. I will make my comments public and I guarantee you they will be honest, for better or for worse. Again, I'd love nothing more than a great Indian restaurant at JzP (or anywhere else in town, for that matter). Please do better than this.

  2. Thanks for your post Anonymous - it might be you have better luck than me if you head down, but couldn't agree more that lack of consistency (especially only two weeks into opening) is a real failing...

  3. I've heard all sorts of horror stories from restaurant owners here about trying to find decent chefs. Often, they say the chef-to-be doesn't even show up for the interview.

    Okay fine, chefs aren't great at social niceties, but they know a higher paycheque when they see one. If you can't even get someone to show up for the interview, how are you expecting to build your business around his food (it's not a commodity, you know)? As Knedlikova points out, we're not there for the decor, the location or whatever. We're there for the food! Your business lives or dies based on your chef! Pay him accordingly.

  4. Dear Knedlikova
    I think you must just have been unlucky. My wife and I dine a dilli dehli at least twice a week and have always received top notch food. Before we found dilli we used to go to masala but we found the food at dilli to be infinitely better especially since masala changed chef

  5. You should definitely try their Rogan Josh, it's really something.