In the days of yore, when all four and five star hotels were situated in Central and South Delhi, the Indian restaurant was usually given the least amount of attention. Now that hotels have sprung up in Rohini, Pashchim Vihar, Mayur Vihar and Janakpuri, hotels instinctively realize that to capture the local crowd, the Indian restaurant needs the most attention. That is why we have been rewarded with Zune, Indyaki and now Spice Art.
Done up in warm golden brown and ebony, with ivory damask tablecloths, Spice Art has been divided into two parts, forming two separate sections. One section has no natural light, and that is the division that is open for lunch. For dinner, the entire restaurant is operational. Metal jali screens divide the restaurant into semi private dining areas. Though the food is North Indian, there are a couple of dishes each from Amritsar, Kashmir and Lucknow, as well as a couple of nouvelle offerings.
The people living around the area are overwhelmingly vegetarian, and cognizance has been taken of that. Some of the most exciting, innovative items on the menu are vegetarian. The first of the lot is chatpati chaat platter (Rs 425) which consists of kurkuri palak chaat, karari tikki, dahi puchka and dahi gujiya. Filling enough to be a main meal, it is one of the best, most authentic renditions of chaat in a hotel. There is no dumbing down here, and it is no surpise that this is the single most ordered appetizer on the menu.
Tandoori bhari hui dhingri (Rs 445) is probably the invention of the kitchen. Button mushroom cups are filled with cheese that is seasoned with ginger and green chillies. When baked in the tandoor, the mushrooms miraculously don’t wilt but keep their shape and their firmness, the cheese melts and the ginger and chilli gives it an Indian appeal. The entire menu is written in the English script, but with descriptions in Hindi, so you have kesar aur khajoor ke malai koftey and the intriguingly named do din ki dal which I was tempted to try but didn’t.
Chukandar gosht roghan josh (Rs 825) is as close as you can get to an authentic rendition of the Kashmiri favourite. The flavour of the lamb predominates rather than the beetroot which is there for the deep cinnabar colour. Rich, with a depth of flavour and a supremely velvety texture, it is one of the best things on the menu in the non-vegetarian section.
There is, rather cleverly, a section of home-style food. Aloo Amritsari wadi (Rs 565) takes pride of place. The wadis are clearly from Amritsar, and they – and the tomato paste used sparingly – add richness to an otherwise simple dish. This is one offering that hardly makes an appearance on Delhi menus and is well worth a try. The other dish of Amritsari provenance is the superb Amritsari kulcha with chana (Rs 145). You would be hard pressed to find kulchas this flaky and buttery in Amritsar itself. No short cuts have been taken here. The dough has been rolled out, then folded over and over again. Served with simply cooked chana, exactly like an Amritsari dhaba, don’t miss this dish at this temple of gastronomy in Rohini.
Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini
Twin District Centre, Sector 10, Rohini
Open from 12-3.30, 7-11.30
Credit cards accepted; alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 2,500