New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) Bored of having the usual "authentic" food during the nine-day Navratri festival? Get ready for feasty "fast" treats from restaurants across Delhi-NCR, which are ready with revamped and "quirky" menus to cater to the appetite of food patrons. Restaurants have redesigned menus and have added a sprinkle of tasty twists to make simple food more mouth-watering to cater to people who would be following a strict food regimen, which includes avoiding onions, garlic, rice, wheat, meat, iodised salt and also alcohol. Quirks help in making authentic food more appealing, says Saurabh Udinia, Head Chef -- Masala Library, Farzi Café and MasalaBar. "Yes (quirks do help), but there has to be some logic backing the quirky element in the dishes. Quirky plating elevates the excitement in a dish if done smartly," Udinia told IANS. He added their Navratri food is a gourmet meal "strictly sticking to the religious aspects". Monkey Bar, in the capital, is offering both a non-veg thali to celebrate Durga Puja and a vegetarian thali for those observing the Navratris. "Instead of being boring, festivals are a time to refresh, re-energise and rekindle ties. India is also a very diverse country with many communities; so we often have different communities celebrating in different ways," Kolkata-based home chef Iti Misra, who has collaborated with Monkey Bar, told IANS. The Pujo thala at Monkey Bar costs Rs 999 plus taxes for a vegetarian thala, Rs 1,299 plus taxes for a seafood thala and Rs 1,199 plus taxes for chicken thala. "Our pujo thala brings together the traditional with the contemporary," Misra added. Defence Colony-based restaurant Kathputli is also offering a special Navratra thali that includes saboodana tikki, shakarkandi chat with singhara puri, kuttu parantha and Saboodana kheer at a pocket friendly price of Rs 460 plus taxes. Kathputli owner Vipul Gupta begs to differ with the quirky trend. He feels that adding quirk to food meant for a period of fasting doesn't really help in making it interesting. "We make innovative menus for our patrons and plan our menu using the ingredients allowed during the fast. It is not boring for a vegetarian audience," Gupta told IANS. Kopper Kadai, New Delhi, is serving innovative drinks made from fresh tomatos, coconuts, curd and fresh fruit. So, you can sample concoctions like Red Moon, Aam Ras, Banana Walnut Lassi, Cocomotion and much more. "Gone are the days when fasting was considered to be boring. Now you have so many options available wherein you can feast while fasting... We have tried to provide delicacies which are more than regular fasting food already available in the market at a very reasonable price," Celebrity Chef Akshay Nayyar, co-owner of Kopper Kadai, told IANS.
Several other fine dining restaurant like Sana-di-ge too have come out with innovative ideas to serve patrons during the nine-days of fasting at Rs 1,299 per person. "Yes, (making food quirky makes fasting food more interesting)... Our taste-buds always need something to be tickled. To entertain our taste-buds, we have kept dishes like arbi ke pakode and chat dishes like, Sweet aloo," Gaurav Sahai, GM Delhi, Sana-di-ge, told IANS. Sumit Goyal, owner of Gastronomica, agrees that giving a twist to traditional fasting food does make it interesting. "Quirky in food has a lot to do with taking simple recipes and adding a twist to it with smart presentation... If you look at our Navratra menu, we have created an array of simple and healthy recipes which are in sync with low-gluten eating habits during Navratra. We strongly believe in not using any chemicals and agents in our food, and are confident that honest recipes usually lead the way in pleasing the customers," Goyal said. The Gastromica Satvik menu is available for Rs 349. Several other restaurants, pubs and bars like Kinbuck 2, Cafe Delhi Heights, The Masala Trail and Piyali - The Curry Bistro have come out with innovative ideas to serve food lovers. To that end, some restaurants serving international cuisine like Royal China have also geared up for the festival. Bon appetit! (Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at [email protected])