How About a Kuttu Pizza?
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Restaurants in the Capital are serving up global dishes to cater to the faithful during Navratri.
In the weeks preceding Navratri, pious homes around Delhi, and indeed the whole of India, start stocking up ingredients that go into special recipes - from kuttu (buckwheat) flour to makhanas (fox nuts) and sabudana (tapioca). For centuries, several such items have made up the staples of Hindu diets during the nine-day festival, which signifies the change of seasons and is marked by worshipping of the Mother Goddess in her nine forms. People avoid going out to eat, and confine themselves to one meal a day, usually after the sunset.
To combat this lean period, restaurants usually offer traditional 'Navratri platters'. Since it's only Indian and multi-cuisine restaurants which can do this, Continental and Oriental eateries are usually hors de combat and end up waving the white flag until festivities are concluded.
However, this year has seen a dramatic paradigm shift, as European and Asian restaurants around the city are determined not to go down without a fight. From pizzas made out of buckwheat to stir-fried vegetables cooked sans onions and garlic, restaurants are showcasing just how sattvic 'foreign foods' can be. Sanjay Chaddha, owner of Asia Kitchen, which has outlets in Hauz Khas, Noida and Vasant Vihar, says, "Oriental food has the distinct advantage over Indian food that it's cooked on the spot, and so, can be fine-tuned exactly according to the guests' specific requirements. People are usually apprehensive about eating out during Navratri, so we are doing everything we can to ensure they can eat out without having any cause for concern." Other Asian restaurant serving Navratri-inspired dishes is Yum Yum Tree in New Friends Colony.
People with a more European palate can head to Pizzeria Rossa in Hauz Khas or Buzz in Saket. Chef Sudipta Saha at Buzz says, "While onions and garlic are used in a large number of European dishes, it is still possible to tweak them with other flavours, which have the same impact. For example, we've twisted the traditional risotto and substituted arborio rice with sabudana, and onions and garlic with olive oil and herbs." The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa in Connaught Place has introduced a range of Navratri cookies. Executive Chef Sandeep Panwar says, "People are ready to experiment with food, but only up to a certain extent. So, we have introduced variations such as candied pineapple cookies and cookies made out of singhara flour, which are getting a very good response."
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