The ultimate eating guide for the Delhi-Shimla highway

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Photo by Mannat Group

Photo of The ultimate eating guide for the Delhi-Shimla highway by Adete Dahiya

The American golfer Jimmy Walker once said, “I have a lot of stories to tell because I’ve been down a lot of roads people haven't been." I’ve read a lot of stuff but I doubt if there are any other words that come closer than this to describe my life. There is something about the roads which is very hard to put into words. Sure, train journeys have a character and flights offer the comfort and convenience but it is only once you’re on the road that you really live your journey.

From the not so well-maintained highways in certain parts of the country to the picturesque ones, I’ve had several adventures with roads in the country but there’s a romance of sorts that just refuses to die down.

Being on the road has always been about exploring food, cultures and practices on-the-go and the one route that has been my eternal favourite is the NH 22 which connects Delhi to Shimla. The legendary dhabas throughout the route ensure that there is never a dull moment on this lovely drive. So if you’re planning to drive down to Shimla, here’s a small list of my personal favourites that I guarantee, will leave you asking for more!

Photo by Mannat Group

Photo of Mannat Dhaba, Murthal, Haryana, India by Adete Dahiya

We all know the importance of Murthal on the food map of North India—The hoard of dhabas makes Murthal a customary stopover en-route to Shimla and Amrik Sukhdev has almost become a legendary institution to gorge on some authentic North Indian cuisine. But if you’re in no mood to tackle all the madness and rush at Sukhdev, Mannat Dhaba is what you’re looking for. Dishing out authentic lip-smacking delicacies, the Mannat Dhaba is the perfect stopover, regardless of if you’re looking for a hearty Punjabi meal or just a plate of pakoras with your midnight cup of tea.

Cost: ₹600 for two

Cuisine: North Indian, Mughlai

Standout dishes: Aloo parantha, rajma masala, bhindi fry, rabri jalebi

Timings and location: Open 24 hours; 49th Mile Stone, N.H 1, Murthal, Haryana

Contact: 09254303230

Photo by Karnal Haveli

Photo of Haveli Multi Cuisine restaurant, Kadri Road, Mallikatte, Mangaluru, Karnataka, India by Adete Dahiya

The Haveli group of restaurants has grown several fold in last few years with outlets in every major city on the route but the charm of the original Haveli at Karnal remains unmatched. The multi-cuisine eatery is a favourite amongst family travellers and the authentic village-like setting, shopping options, outdoor playing area and of course, some delectable food makes Haveli a complete experience. The gorgeous ambience, generous servings and warm hospitality are bound to transport you to the villages of Punjab.

Cost: ₹1000 for two

Cuisine: North Indian, Mughlai

Standout dishes: Dal makhani, shahi paneer, chhole bhature, pav bhaji

Timings and location: Open 24 hours; 135.5 km Stone, GT Road, Near Karna Lake, Karnal

Contact: 09896630080

Photo by booking.com

Photo of Best Western Maryland, Zirakpur, Punjab, India by Adete Dahiya

The Delhi-Shimla highway apart from being a haven to some legendary dhabas, also has a decent number of fine dining options and the in-house restaurant The Flavours at the Best Western, Zirakpur which sits as the jewel on the crown. The team at The Flavours takes extra effort by customising meals according to the taste of their customers and the quaint and cosy ambience only ends up preparing you for the long drive ahead. Oh, and did I mention how all of this is super easy on the pocket and complete value for money?

Cost: ₹1200 for two

Cuisine: North Indian, Chinese, Continental

Standout dishes: Malai kofta, dahi ke kebab, chicken biryani, butter chicken

Timings and location: 7 AM to 11 PM; Hotel Best Western Maryland, Chandigarh-Ambala Highway, Ambala Road, Zirakpur

Contact: 01762-661000

Photo by abhishekrai

Photo of Pal Dhaba Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India by Adete Dahiya

Well, this one is not exactly on the NH 22 but still finds a place in my all time favourites just because every time I visit the Pal Dhaba, i end up wanting to go back right away. Established in 1968, the Pal Dhaba is a short 10 minute detour from the highway which serves typical North Indian food with no frills attached because when you’re at the Pal Dhaba, it’s only about the food! Miss the shahi paneer and butter chicken at your own risk! Also, if you’re visiting in winter, don’t walk out without trying the makki ki roti and sarson ka saag, it will change your life!

Cost: ₹700 for two

Cuisine: North Indian

Standout dishes: Butter chicken, chana masala, dal makhani, keema kaleji, makki ki roti and sarson ka saag (seasonal)

Timings and location: 11 AM to 11 PM; SCO 151 & 152, Sector 28 D, Sector 28, Chandigarh

Contact: 0172-2650709

What Sukhdev is to Delhi, Giani Da Dhaba is to Himachal. One of the oldest dhabas on the route, Giani Da Dhaba has been the absolute favourite of celebrities and travellers alike. Home to the most iconic rajma chawal on the entire highway, Giani Da Dhaba serves lip-smacking vegetarian food in the lap of the hills. You might have to wait for a few minutes as the place is always brimming with people but, both, the food and the view make it all worth it in the end. And as they say, all’s well that ends well.

Cost: Rs 500 for two

Cuisine: North Indian

Standout dishes: Rajma chawal, aloo gobhi, kadhi pakora, mirchi ka parantha

Timings and location: 9 AM to 9:15 PM; Giani Da Dhaba, Dharampur, Himachal Pradesh

Contact: 09816022066

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