New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) The capital has a way of Indianising salt-of-the-earth Western food to suit the ‘desi’ palate. Imagine an American style diner, known for its round-the-clock eggs and ham breakfast, doling out spinach pancake and sharaabi parantha.
The International Diner, a cafe-cum-diner in the upmarket GK I shopping centre in south Delhi, has combined the American quick meal tradition with Indian cuisine, setting a new trend for well-heeled Indian youth bred on frequent overseas travel, American motel bites and continental meals.
The International Diner opened its door to people in May.
‘We wanted to create a relaxed neighbourhood eatery where one could walk in any time to enjoy a hearty meal, away from the trappings of formal banquets and power dressing. Our target was the greater Indian market – first the metros and then the tier-II cities where the emerging middle class has more disposable money to spend on eating out,’ Suveer Sodhi, co-owner of the restaurant, told IANS.
Owners Sodhi and Vishal Kaushik, two 26-year-old boyhood friends-turned-entrepreneurs, decided on an Indian-style diner in the course of their travel across Europe and the US a few years ago.
‘The place we had in mind had to cater to the discerning breakfast crowd in the capital. Breakfast is an important meal in Indian homes, like the Americans and Europeans who treat breakfast as a leisurely affair unless they are rushed for time,’ Kaushik told IANS.
‘Moreover, more Indians eat their breakfast out of home either on their way to work or over weekends. We realised diner-style eateries fitted with a retro American beer bar could work well in the country that has a ready market for quick meals.’
The diner’s menu reflects the universal spirit of international diners across the world.
American classics like steaks, fries and omelettes share space with Mediterranean, landlocked European, Lebanese and subcontinental food with the homegrown nimbu pani served American style as ‘diner banta’.
It serves an adventurous platter of seafood omelette – fresh farm egg sunny fried and stuffed with squid and sole; paneer tikka; and home fries.
The menu boasts of five common Indian stuffed ‘paranthas’ and grilled platters. In case you are wondering what the sharaabi parantha is – it’s fried bread flambe with alcohol, a modified version of an Arabian pancake!
‘We also bake our own assortment of breads,’ Sodhi said.
The decor is emblematic of the American working class and ultra modern chic with traditional checkered walls and linen, wooden tables, utility chairs, food counters, old sepia posters and framed photographs of Hollywood idols – contrasted by an interactive kitchen to serve food hot off the griddle and quiet lounge corners for intimate meals.
A large black-and-white mural etched in a corner of the wall chronicles the journey of diners as an essentially American mom-apple pie-and-bootstraps concept to a casual continental cafe-restaurant tailored to feed the rainbow world.
The first recorded diner was a horse-drawn wagon built by Walter Scott in 1872 that dished hot food to the employees of Providence Journal in Rhodes Island.
The International Diner is modelled on the American Diner at the India Habitat Centre.
A meal for two costs Rs.1,000 (minus tax).