Naan the wiser
Sacramento, CA 95814
“McCarthy, where’s your heart? McCarthy, where’s your heart?” Protestors chanted on their march toward the Capitol, a response to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s alignment with the White House’s immigration agenda.
In the background of one of the activists’ videos, you might find me scarfing down a Punjabi Burrito like a snake swallowing an ostrich egg. The newly opened Lit Delhi provides a front-row seat to the comings and goings at the Capitol. This might occasionally result in soul-searching questions like, “Why, instead of participating in meaningful political discourse, am I eating a fusion burrito the size of an infant?”
This spring, the restaurant reopened under new management in the spot that had formerly been Namaste Deli. The location has been a deli since the ‘80s, when it was Tootsies. Now, the family owned business concentrates on Indian offerings. The menu, available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is much smaller than before with only four entrees and frozen yogurt.
The deli looks very much like a deli, with the majority of the shotgun storefront taken up by refrigerators of grab-and-go beverages and shelves of chips.
For lunch or dinner, the Punjabi Burrito ($9.99) is given a starring role on the menu, with your choice of naan, rice or chaat (in this case, potato and chickpeas), and protein (tofu, beef kabob or butter chicken). I got mine with garlic naan, basmati rice and butter chicken.
Then, the cashier asked, “Sweet & Tangy Chutney, Spicy Lit Chutney or Stupid Lit Chutney?”
“Yes,” I said. This was not the wisest choice.
The naan—charred and suffused with garlic—came folded over the slippery, saucy ingredients more like a taco. However, it still had the impressive heft of a burrito. This was an architectural misstep. Burritos encase their bulging insides for a reason. The ingredients came spilling out of the open taco bottom without my noticing it, until there was a pile of rice, chicken, cucumber and tomato on my submarine sandwich wrapper. At least the ingredients were tasty; the butter chicken was sweet and infused with curry. But think twice before ordering all the sauces.
The Custom Naan Pizza ($7.99) was more structurally successful, and delicious. The crispy naan crust underneath melted mozzarella was a welcome departure from the usual floppy pizza dough, and the vegan pesto tasted of chutney. Mushrooms, olives, red onions, bell peppers, baby tomatoes and green beans made it seem wholesome despite the greasiness. I had mine with tofu, but you can also try pepperoni, chicken or sausage.
The Samosa Chaat ($5.99) also had a down-home greasiness—fried, crisp dough surrounded potato pillows without many other ingredients. A tad bland, yes, but the sweet-and-tangy chutney was a fun complement. The accompanying chickpeas, on the other hand, were bursting with seasoning.
I’m not sure I would call Lit Dehli “lit.” It’s a reliable, affordable bodega with a flavorful kick. Just be careful eating that taco-burrito creation on the doorstep of Sacramento’s biggest stage.