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The Great `Indian' Wall...

India takes over China! At least in food. Restaurants across Delhi are offering Indianised version of Chinese food. Crown Plaza Surya's Sampan restaurant in South Delhi may not be strictly Chinese but it offers what Delhiites want, says SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY... .


FLAUNTING CREATIONS: Sampan chef Arun Trikha. Photo: R V Moorthy.

IT GOES without saying that no other cuisine has become so Indianised as the Chinese. Starting from roadside vendors selling dish after dish of `Made in India' noodles mixed with accompaniments as odd as paneer, to Chilli Chicken made in Punjabi style at your neighbourhood restaurant in New Delhi to even many well-known Chinese joints `experimenting' at will to `suit Indian palette', it has in most places long ceased to be Chinese for a man straight from the Land of the Yellow river, but definitely Chinese here.

The food served in Delhi's Crown Plaza Surya's Chinese restaurant Sampan too is not so strictly Chinese in blood but if you are looking for food that is just delicious and laid out in a romantic candlelight milieu, then it is definitely not the place to miss. Perched on the hotel's rooftop, Sampan, which traditionally means a boat, is a perfect place for a good evening with lovely music by a live band wafting through - you can put in your request for a song too - besides an astounding view of the city doubled up with mouth-watering dishes. There is also a small dance floor for those young at heart.

Mincing no words, the restaurant's chef Arun Trikha tells you that he has modified the recipes "to suit the local tongue".

"Most of my guests are North Indians and so, some changes are required to be made to satisfy their taste. For instance, people here are not so tuned to certain Chinese flavours and so they are to be replaced with Indian spices. Also, we use honey in some recipes which the Chinese generally do not," he says. Hardcore Chinese or not, but the dish-out he conjures for you to dine on is mouth-watering.

Among the non-vegetarian dishes, ask for the restaurant's Prawns Salt `n' Pepper and Crispy Lamb. Here, the chef has intelligently saved that typical speciality of good taste and less-spice that we appreciate in Chinese cuisine. The dishes that vegetarians should not miss out are Spinach with Baby Corn and Lotus Stem Chilly Honey. Trying to hog the entire dish, you would wonder how has the chef made the spinach so crispy. The soft baby corn along with the crisp spinach becomes a perfect morsel. The lotus stem too is crispy laced with honey and chilli, thus becoming a gastronomical delight. Besides splendid wine, the restaurant has interesting mocktails. Also, if you are interested in the popular Chinese dishes like Mixed Vegetables in Garlic Sauce, Chilli Chicken, Fried Rice and Hakka noodles, etc Sampan has them all. Its menu card also claims to serve authentic Szechwan, Canton and Polynesian cuisine.

Among the desserts, Sampan's staff boasts of Date Pancake with Ice Cream. In one expression, it is yummy!

At the end of the dessert, you feel you have just finished a good meal. Definitely try out Sampan if you are ready to barter a not-so-light packet of notes for the deal!

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