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Flavours of India: New takeout restaurant opens in New West

Delhi Connection, the latest addition to New West's growing Indian food scene, hopes to bring flavours of Old Delhi to Canada.

A trip to India might be on your bucket list if you’re a foodie on the lookout for vibrant, bold, contrasting flavours and textures.

Indian cuisine reaches far beyond the more commonly known “Butter Chicken” — it is as diverse as its people, geography and languages.

East to west, north to south, each state brings out different flavours and textures to leave your palette satiated.

While a trip to India can be heavy on the wallet for many, a trip to Fifth Avenue in New West can bring you tastes of west and north India — all in one stop.

Delhi Connection is the newest addition to the bustling Indian food scene in New Westminster.

Neighbour to the recently launched takeout business, Vada Pav Mirchi by Geeta, which offers the world-famous Mumbai’s street food snack Vada Pav, this new takeout spot is here to give you the taste of the north: Delhi.

A chef and restaurateur from India, Akshay Dhingra brought his love for Delhi along with his years of expertise working with celebrity chefs to open Delhi Connection. 

The entire operation — from sourcing ingredients to preparing food and packing for delivery — is handled by the Langley resident and his wife, who he says is a 100 per cent shareholder.

“[My wife] is an astrologer, so she told me that my star is good and wants the 100 per cent share,” he smiled.

Dhingra dreams of opening his own restaurant shorty, “just one or two years,” he said. But for now, owing to large investment costs to open a restaurant, he settled for operating out of a commissary kitchen.

With the equipment already readily available, Dhingra is focusing on providing the richest Delhi flavours to the people of the Lower Mainland, while breaking even.

Everything from his signature dishes Dum Biriyani and Nawabi Korma to Delhi’s special Chaat, Achari Soya Cheap and Old Delhi’s famous Butter Chicken finds a place in their menu — and can be ordered for takeout from the delivery apps. 

The authentic Delhi way to prepare the Biriyani is to cook the rice, add the Khada masala (a blend of quintessential Indian spices like green and black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, and coriander seeds, among other spices) and cook “Dum” style, he said. Cook 70 per cent and then cook the rest 30 per cent using “Jhol,” which is a mixture of butter, cream, brown onions) and the biryani masala.

He then stacks three layers of cooker rice on top of each other with a layer of Jhol in between to emulate bold aromatic flavours for the palette.

He was motivated to bring authentic Delhi Korma to British Columbia as he couldn’t find it prepared that way anywhere else.

“Korma has a 3:2:1 ratio — three parts brown onions, two parts garlic, and one part cashew — all browned and blend[ed] into a smooth texture.”

“[The whole process] takes a lot of time, a lot of effort,” he said. “But the authenticity will come for sure.”

Dhingra is ecstatic to bring this Delhi connection to Metro Vancouver customers.

“There is a huge community of Indian people and Sikh community here and in Surrey,” he says.

“When I came to [Canada in 2019], I was in New Brunswick, and there were hardly any Indians or Asians. So when I came here, I saw many Indian restaurants and Indian grocery stores, and I was very happy,” he added.

“And even my wife was really happy to see all the stores and everything because we get all those spices and ingredients. So it’s a great experience.”

Dhingra, who has been working in the industry for over 10 years — starting his career at Marriott, India and training with celebrity chefs like Vikas Khanna, Vineet Bhatia, and the Qureshis of Lucknow to getting international exposure when he went to Grand America — hopes to bring simple authentic recipes to foodies.

"Just come taste the food — it is like how your mother prepares.”