Devil chicken with angry sauce, rigatroni au gratin washed down with grass jelly fresh milk: the capital’s culinary aficionados are in for a treat with renowned food chains from around the world entering the market and setting the stage for a global food fest.
Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, German, French, American, Greek, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Dutch, Portuguese, Ethiopian and Taiwanese — you name it and they are here. Offering authentic cuisines made from fresh ingredients, many of which are imported from the home country, the number of such plush restaurants has been steadily rising in the capital and suburban growth centers of Gurgaon and Noida.
Several restaurants which claim to offer authentic and not Indianized gastronomic delights have opened in the National Capital Region, more so in south Delhi owing to the large number of expatriates residing in the area.
“We believe in offering original recipes made from the freshest and authentic ingredients,” Simona Berzintu, manager of La Tagliatella, an Italian chain of restaurants which has opened its first branch in Delhi and has over 650 outlets across the globe, said.
“Many restaurants sell Indianized versions of Italian food but we don’t. Our patrons get to savor the original taste of Italy,” she added.
Located in Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, it offers more than 400 combinations of pasta, salads and ice-creams, among others. Rigatroni au gratin, pasta with aubergines and a crispy parmesan topping, is one of the most popular.
All its sauces and spices are imported from Italy to ensure authenticity in taste. A meal for two at the plush eatery costs around Rs. 2,000 ($40).
Simply Fondue, a US-based chain of restaurants, offers American and Mexican cuisine though the highlight of the restaurant is a Swiss-French-Italian fondue that is prepared at the diner’s table.
Shiny silver pots containing piping hot cheese are placed on induction plates built into the tables, while raw vegetables like mushrooms, broccoli and cocktail onions, as also bread and meat is dipped into the cheese and eaten with a fork.
“Authenticity is the key to succeed as nowadays there are restaurants aplenty which serve a hybrid of a foreign and Indian cuisine,” Tenzin Delek, manager of the Nehru Place-based restaurant, said.
To further raise the levels of authenticity, the head chefs of many of the restaurants belong to the country whose cuisine is on offer.
The restaurants have gone the extra mile to cater to Indian customers, many of whom are vegetarians, by altering their menus a bit or introducing new dishes tagged “pure vegetarian” and whose sauces and cheese do not contain eggs.
“We knew we would be catering to a lot of vegetarian customers; so we introduced the all cheese vegetarian fondue served with vegetables and fruit,” said Delek.
Sharing a similar view, Rahul Parashar, manager of sales and marketing at the Saket-based B Bar, which offers a mix of Asian cuisines including Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese, had to increase the number of vegetarian main course dishes from six to twelve.
“We have localized the menu to suit to the Indian palette,” he said.
Despite the expensive tag, sales are on the rise with an equal number of foreign and Indian customers visiting such restaurants.
But it’s the new generation of young customers who are open to trying new cuisines and are adventurous that are driving the sales.
“We get a lot of foreign tourists and expats along with our Indian customers,” Raj Kumar, the manager of Taiwanese tea franchise Chatime that offers teas from around the world.
Situated in Noida, the most popular drink with the tourists, many of whom are Asian, is bubble tea. It has chewy tapioca flowers seeds that can be eaten while drinking the tea.
“Youngsters are definitely playing a major role in driving our sales as they tend to experiment with new food and that is why metros are seeing a deluge of such restaurants,” added Raj Kumar.
For South Africa-based Nando’s (DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj) which serves Afro-Portuguese cuisine and is famous the world over for its Peri-Peri chicken, India’s love for spicy food is reason enough for it to come here.
“We foresee India as a market with huge potential which is re-enforced by Indians’ traditional love for spices. In our case it’s different flavors of Peri-Peri ranging from lemon and herb to mild and hot to extra hot,” Natasha Malik, brand manager at Nando’s Delhi/NCR, said.
“We believe our menu suits the Indian palette very well,” she added.
So, food lovers, grab your forks and knives and get ready to satiate your tastebuds with global gastronomical delights!