Daniel Moreno does not hesitate for a second when asked what his favorite dish is: Pizza Margherita. Paella comes in second and that is likely no coincidence. With an Italian mother and Spanish father, it is true that he was introduced to Mediterranean food already as a baby but when it comes to tasting new things, he is surprisingly brave and open-minded for an 8-year-old. Daniel (an art, football and music-loving Year 4 student at Dulwich College Beijing) has, together with mom Alessia, been invited to try the colorful and tasty cuisine of Ganges Indian Restaurant (Lido branch).
The director Laxman Hemnani explained that this is the newest of the four Beijing branches of Ganges and that the menu features mainly north Indian cuisine. The restaurant lets Daniel choose exactly what he wants from the menu and his eyes light up as he spots saffron rice. “I’m definitely having that,” he says. The restaurant suggests butter naan bread as a side for Daniel as it is normally a favorite with kids, but he has his mind set on the olive naan.
Before he knows it, the waiter brings a symphony of Indian dishes for Daniel to try. It includes chicken tikka masala, reshmi kebab (marinated, barbecued chicken), palak paneer (a spinach and cottage cheese dish), chana masala (chickpeas cooked in a spicy, tomato-based sauce) and batada boda (mashed potato and chickpea flour fritters with spices). The fritters are an instant hit with Daniel although he skips the tamarind dipping sauce that comes with them.
Daniel starts tasting everything and despite a couple of the dishes being a little too spicy for him, he is generally very impressed and keeps working his way through the wide array of food as he tells us how excited he is to go to India and visit the Taj Mahal for Chinese New Year. India has been at the top of the Moreno family’s destination wish list for a long time – not least because Alessia (who is a yoga teacher) has been dreaming of doing a yoga training in India – a dream that will finally come true next year. It turns out that Ganges has a special menu for yogis like Alessia. The Yoga menu boats a number of vegetarian curries and dishes – something she has never seen at other restaurants in Beijing.
Before tasting all the food, we asked Daniel what he expected to like the most. It was saffron rice. And the rice certainly didn’t disappoint. So much so that he got a nice, big order to take home. But his absolute favorite turned out to be the olive naan which seems like the perfect fit for a young, global citizen with a Mediterranean background and a newfound passion for India.
The food at Ganges Indian restaurant is certainly suitable for kids and beijingkids would like to thank Mr. Hemnani and his team for treating Daniel like Shah Jahan, the King of the World.
Ganges Indian Restaurant
Daily 10.30am-11pm, 38 Jiuxianqiao Fangyuan West Road, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区酒仙桥芳园西路38号. (139 1062 9470)
This article appeared in the beijingkids November 2018 Beijing Makers issue
Photos: Kipp Whittaker