Indian flavours with London polish
Atmospherics: There are few takers for Indian food for lunch, I have always noticed. That is the reason why Indians choose to dine at threesixty degrees next door, leaving the overseas guests in the hotel to dine at Omya. A vast pity that we cling on so tightly to our preconceived notions, because if there is one restaurant that goes slow on the oil and can give you a protein-rich meal that is packed with flavours from all over the country without sending you into a slumber for three hours, it is Omya. It even has a no-wheat roti on its menu! The London-based chef, Alfred Prasad, has shaped the offerings here in his individual style, yet cognizance has been taken of local Delhi preferences. As a result, there’s butter chicken here, as well as dal makhani, though the real treasures lie elsewhere on the menu. Omya wins if you want a quiet business lunch with some local colour.
Table talk: Every restaurant constantly battles with non-Indian ingredients combined with desi tradition to come up with something interesting for vegetarian guests that will have an Indian appeal yet be a novelty. Omya has hit the jackpot with its edamame seekh (Rs 1075) a chunky textured kebab where all the ingredients are coarsely chopped, including pumpkin seeds for a crisp bite. All too often, vegetarian preparations lose their appeal when they’re made into the consistency of pulp, but happily, it is not the case here. Gunpowder crusted bekti (Rs 1950) works whether you want a pan-fried fish preparation with a bit of spice in it (the ‘gunpowder’ is ground in the kitchen, to Chef Prasad’s recipe) or a curry, because a small portion of coconut-based sauce is poured around the fish as an option. The gunpowder crust gives way to a marvellously moist chunk of bekti and is one of the best dishes on the menu. Awadhi lamb biryani (Rs 1975) is one of the most moist, flavourful biryanis in the city today. Though ‘curried aubergine’ and okra raita is served as an accompaniment, it would be a travesty to dilute the long-grained rice with anything at all; enjoy the flavour of the lamb and spices as it is.
Plus and minus: We Delhiites take butter chicken very seriously. I’m not sure whether the Omya version would hit the spot.
The Oberoi, Dr Zakir Husain Marg
Open from 12.30 to 3 pm and 7 to 11.30 pm
Credit cards; alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 5,000