Serves: North Indian
Atmospherics: Rare is the Indian restaurant with two master chefs, one from Punjab and the other from the fabled Qureshi family of Lucknow. Hardev Singh is more or less the sole repository of all the most famous dhabas in Amritsar, as he has been working with the owners-cum-cooks during their lifetimes, when they visited Delhi for food festivals. There is no other hotel or restaurant chef with that qualification. So, if you want to sample, say, the late Surinder Singh Kapoor’s mutton chaamp, you have nowhere else to go but Spice Art. This ground floor restaurant is well-appointed and opens only for dinner. Do be aware that it is not diet food that you will get here, but the rich, bold flavours are unforgettable: Kaleem Qureshi’s biryani and nalli nihari are works of art in a city full of hype and bombast.
Table talk: There is a category of diners who go off meat now and again and who seek out preparations that will give them full-flavoured vegetarian dishes with a textured bite. I myself fall into this category and nothing hit the spot like the aloo Amritsari wadi (Rs 800) did with its slightly chewy texture and strongly flavoured spicing. Amritsari chole platter (Rs 1000) is a full meal for one person: the flaky kulcha has been made by a master and the chole melt in the mouth, with a hint of ever-so-slightly tangy anardana. Ambarsari chaap (Rs 1100) is almost as large as the plate in which it was served. The legacy of the late Surinder S Kapoor, its surface is studded with coarse mince before being pan-fried in a heavy bottomed pan with fragrant pure ghee. Tawa meat (Rs 1150) is the hottest selling item at any Amritsari dhaba, and like all its versions, this one is ‘semi gravy’ in what must be the most unusual turn of phrase! Magaz masala (Rs 1250) combines the soft-as-cotton brain with a bold spicing that counterpoints it wonderfully. And the colour and the richness of flavour of chukandar gosht (Rs 1150) makes it an unusual choice on a restaurant menu.
Must try: Lucknowi Gosht Biryani; Moradabadi dal; Moong dal halwa
Food: 4; Service: 3.75; Décor: 3.50
Crown Plaza, Institutional Green 1, Surajpur Chowk, Greater Noida
Open from 7 pm to 11 pm
Credit cards, alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 4,000