Sunday, October 25, 2009

Devi Cafe, Moscow:Possibly the best Indian resaurant outside of India at the Institute of International People's Friendship

Three years after moving away from Moscow, this is the only restaurant that I actively miss. (And ok, sometimes the Noev Kovcheg for hangover delivery food. That will occasion its own writeup someday, I promise.) So, the place is Devi Cafe, and it is at 21 Mikluka Miklaya. The address is only half the story, though, as the place is very hard to find. As with so many Moscow venues, it's hidden in the basement of one of many poorly marked buildings in a courtyard. You have to walk past a schlagbaum or step over a little chain to even get into the courtyard, so the journey feels wrong from the inception. We've been to Devi Cafe a dozen times and we still sometimes get lost and have to wander around the wonderfully weird environs of the International Uni, looking for it. This is the only place in Moscow (all of Russia?) that's truly ethnically mixed up, and on nice days there will be brilliant groups of black Africans and Asians and other sort of diffident and lost-looking young people playing badminton on the walkways, hanging out, smoking, selling CDs, etc. It is bizarre and I love it. The uni's full name is something like The Institute of International People's Friendship Named After Patrice Lumumba and I guess it's a good, cheap option for students without a lot of money whose home countries don't have good schooling options. But what must these enterprising young people from warm, friendly places make of the hideous post-industrial sprawl on the outskirts of Moscow? Not to mention the weather and the virulent racism? Wow. Also this restaurant is a 20 minute walk from Ug-Zapadnaya Metro, at the end of the red line. I hesitate to recommend trying to find it to any but the most experienced travelers.....

But onward! Find it if you can. It's down a flight of stairs past an Indian grocery. The telly will be blaring Bollywood or obscure sporting events, the waiters speak good English and every single dish is sublime. The raita comes in a tall copper vessel and is thick with various vegetables & laced with cucumber and dill. I've never seen it like that anywhere else before. Otherwise can't remember specific dishes but I think it may be impossible to go wrong.

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