The Real Taste of India from Dilli

Tucked within the corners of Olaya and Tahlia St. lies a hidden gem of Riyadh’s Indian cuisine scene. Generally, we know that there’s an Indian hole-in-the-wall restuarant in every district of the city but few of them have actually risen to the occasion to redefine what it means to dine in truly Indian style. Taste of Dilli Restaurant holds that claim and we entered their doors to prove it, or at least, get our views on it. As you know, we are not of the Indian race so who are we to really say what Indian food should taste like BUT we have eaten and tried a whole lot of Indian food in the last decade, we’ve even attended cooking classes for it before so with that in mind, we feel confident about our ideas.

Taste of Dilli Restaurant focuses on the authentic taste of North Indian cuisine. It is derived from the ancient name of one of India’s cities, “Delhi” (different from New Delhi, from what I read). As you enter the restaurant, a spiral staircase will lead your way up to the family section while the single section is located on the ground floor. A large chandelier hangs in the middle while the wall is surrounded by picturesque snaps of notable places in India. As you enter the dining area, you’ll find private booths all around that can fit a family of 5 or more. It is an enclosed space with soft couches and long tables. An open area is also available in the middle. However, what’s really more intriguing is the kind of plates they have laid out for the diners. Have a look:

The climb up creates a suspense, and also a little cardio.

The dining area for families.

The colors are very India!

Dish for appetizers are on the bottom, while the two plates on the side are for soups and sauces. The main dish on top is for the main course.

According to our host, this is the first step of knowing that you are in a truly Indian restaurant, that is if they have this kind of plate setting. Apparently, if you go to restaurants in India, most plates are like these because they serve a purpose for appetizers, main dish, soup and condiments and each portion is taken away after each course. Here in Riyadh though, they had to do away with the soup and condiment dish plates because many of their Saudi guests have commented that it gets in the way of their eating experience. Nonetheless, it’s their effort to replicate the Indian food experience that matters more.

Our first bites were into these crispy fried poppadums!

Their menu is pretty simple and straightforward. You’ll find a welcome photo from their Master Chef, Chef Deepak Anthwal, who is mainly responsible for the restaurant’s signature dishes followed by the rest of their menu. A basket of poppadums came in complimentary as we made our choices. It was more flavorful and spicier than most poppadums we’ve tasted! But I enjoyed it because, you know me, I love my food spicy. The dips are made from beetroot, tamarind and mint yogurt (as customary). Here’s the rest of our selection from the menu:

Samosa Chat, 15 SAR

Jingha Dilli Special (in the middle) 30 SAR Dilli Chops, 53 SAR (on the left)

The Samosa Chat is made of vegetable samosa smothered with creamy yogurt, mint and tamarind chutnies and topped with pomegranate bits. The sour notes overwhelmed me a bit but if I were to eat those samosas on its own, I would have enjoyed them more. The Jingha Dilli Special is their take on the infamous dynamite shrimp recipe but makes use of Insian spices instead. The shrimps are robust and cooked just right Flavorwise, it was something you wouldn’t expect as we normally associate curry flavors to a masala dish so it is definitely unique. Meanwhile, the meaty lamp chops were the first things I actually tasted because it was staring at me, compelling me to taste it right away. The meat was so tender as if it were cooked to softness overnight. The cumin flavor was prominent but at the same time it made the dish memorable. The sauce around it made me want to eat it with some rice and with my hands. Thumbs up for them Dilli Chops!

Dilli Mix Grill (8 pcs), 72 SAR

My fork headed over to the mixed grill special of Dilli as these babies are better eaten first while they’re fresh off the heat. It is a mix of fish, chicken and mutton and if you squeeze that lemon slice on top of everything, the zest just makes the flavors pop more. From this lot, I particularly liked the Kastouri Murgh Tikka (the yellow one in the photo) since it was marinated with yogurt, cheese and coriander. Everything else, was cooked very well — they were soft and moist, not dry and chewy.

Murgh Tikka Ananas, 38 SAR

Grilled chicken combined with large chunks of spiced pineapples, this dish makes. On its own, I wouldn’t have made much fuss over the chicken marinated in yogurt and chilli but paired with a slice of that pineappple, it sure does make the bite better.

Dhaba Murgh, 40 SAR (requested extra spicy)

The Dhaba Murgh (or chicken tikka masala) is one of my go-to dishes in Indian cuisine so I requested for extra spicy as I ordered. It’s cooked in onion, tomato, melon seed and chilli and is perfect for dipping with a roll of Nan bread on one hand. It wasn’t as spicy as I had wanted it to be, but there was a definitely a kick. At least, I was still able to taste the flavors of the ingredients as opposed to jsut being blasted with spice.

Murgh Makhi (Butter Chicken) 44 SAR, Murgh Biryani, 40 SAR, Mixed Bread Basket 9 SAR

Janelle is a connoisseur of Butter Chicken. Every time we are in an Indian restaurant, it is her item of choice and naturally, we tried Dilli’s take on this beloved Indian dish both in chicken and shrimp viands. Both were immerssed in the same sweet tomato-based sauce that was mixed with some herbs for a distinct taste. The Tandoor-grilled boneless chicken pieces were very tender along with the shrimp that was cooked well. So far, I have been impressed with how they’re able to sustain the succulence of the protein dishes served, keeping them all soft and tender. The nans were slowly disappearing from the basket as we used them to go along with our main course. Nope, they weren’t oily or dry either. Just real  simple Nan right there.

Dal Makhni is Love. 32 SAR

Who ever said money can’t buy you happiness? Buy a bowl of Dal Makhni and you will get a taste of what happiness is. This slow-cooked black lentil dish is slowly becoming my favorite Indian food for it’s buttery goodness that simply meltss in my mouth every time. The flavors in it are sinuous and it’s not easy to detect exactly what’s making it taste so good but perhaps the magic is in not knowing…and instead just enjoying every mouthful of it. (You may notice I get a tad bit poetic when I talk about a dish I REALLY like).

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to order any desserts nor were we able to try their take on the Lassi. However, I did taste enough to know that their flavors were more distinct and packs more of a punch, so to speak. If we’re going to talk about service, it was swift and timely and as for the ambiance of the space, I would suggest to dim the lights in the center of the dining area more just to accentuate more of an elegant feel to the space. Other than that, I found the price range to be reasonable for a night out with family or friends and the only challenge would be the location since it’s a bit hidden from the main road. We’re attaching the location map below to help you find it easier.

Taking everything into account, the food was cooked very well and we thoroughly found a lot of their menu items to be delicious and worthy of a second visit (and more). So if you’re up to trying it out for yourself, you know where to find it folks! 🙂

Dilli Restaurant

Location Map:

Tel: +966 11 415 8877



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The Communications Editor loves rock n' roll, food trips and is a self-proclaimed, arbiter of taste.

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