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Here’s to Crystals 2011!

india Updated: Sep 09, 2011 00:42 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Foodies, rejoice! It’s time to choose and honour your favourite eating out joints and pubs. The Crystals are back, and this time, the food Oscars will titillate you with a bigger dollop of glitz and glamour. So, gear up for the third edition of the annual reader-voted HT City Crystals 2011 People’s Choice Awards and vote for the joints you think deserve to walk way with the accolades. Each week, we will feature the nominees as the city’s Top Tables under different categories.

So, watch this space for the list of nominees, their reviews and voting codes. Apart from your old favourites, the list features newbies that have got a thumbs up from foodies within a few months of being launched. The awards would culminate into a gala event that will be held in mid-October.

Best North Indian

Moti Mahal, Daryaganj
This restaurant’s claim to fame includes the invention of the iconic Butter Chicken in the 1920s. When you go there, ignore its bland interiors and focus on the superb Mughlai fare. Robust delicacies such as Burra Kebab and Butter Chicken will keep you coming back.
Where: 3704, Netaji Subhash Marg, Daryaganj, Delhi; 23273011; www.motimahal1947.com
Cuisine: Mughlai/North Indian
Timings: 12 pm - 12.30 am}
Cost: Rs. 800

Bukhara, ITC Maurya
For almost 30 years, Bukhara has gloriously retained the consistency of its bestselling dishes, be it the succulent mutton burras, the melt-in-your-mouth murgh malai kababs or the delectable Dal Bukhara, which earned former US President Bill Clinton’s vote. Where: ITC Maurya, SP Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi; 26112233; www.itcwelcomgroup.in
Cuisine: North-West Frontier
Timings: 12.30 pm - 2.45 pm & 7 pm - 11.45 pm
Cost: Rs. 4,500

Baluchi, The Lalit
Its chic interiors, an Indian bread bar counter, and a splendid wine list makes it one of the best places to entertain your foreigner friend who loves Indian food. Go for the flaky Pheni Parantha, Guchhi Aur Safed Mushroom Ki Galouti, and the refreshing Paan Kulfi.
Where: The Lalit, Barakhamba Avenue, Connaught Place, New Delhi; 44447114; www.thelalit.com;
Cuisine: North Indian
Timings: 12.30 pm - 12 am
Cost: Rs. 2000

Dum Pukht, ITC Maurya
Dum Pukht transports you to the world of Nawabs - both the ambience and the lavish menu that features 200-year-old cuisine of the Awadhi Nawabs. The must-trys here are the kakori kebabs, dum ki khumb, and the majestic raan-e-Dum Pukht.
Where:ITC Maurya, SP Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi; 26112233; www.itcwelcomgroup.in
Cuisine: Awadhi
Timings: 7.30pm to 12.45am
Cost: Rs. 3,500

Masala Art, The Taj Palace
If you are tired of food smothered in oil and spices, Masala Art is the place for you. The menu comprises Indian delicacies that retain the natural flavours of the ingredients. We recommend the Bhatti Ka Jheenga — prawns perked up with mild spices and cooked in a tandoor.
Where: Taj Palace Hotel, 2, SP Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi; 26110202; www.tajhotels.com
Cuisine: North Indian
Timings: 12.30 pm - 11.45 pm
Cost: Rs. 3500

Pindi, Pandara Road
If hunger strikes you at midnight, take the road that leads to Pindi. The place is about lip smacking dhaba-style dishes, served in liberal portions at reasonable prices. Despite an uninspiring décor, the eatery is a hit among hungry night owls. Try the kebabs and kormas.
Where: 16, Pandara Road Market, Pandara Road, New Delhi; 23387932
Cuisine: North Indian, Chinese
Timings: 12 pm - 12 am
Cost: Rs. 1000

Gulati Restaurant, Pandara road
Forget your dieting plans before going to Gulati, as the place is all about gluttony. The chicken tikka masala, rogan josh, kadhai chicken, kakoris and galouti kebabs served in generous proportions are delicious. There is a green version of galouti kebabs and dahi ke kebab for shakaharis.
Where: 6, Pandara Road Market, New Delhi; 23782949; www.gulatirestaurant.in
Cuisine: North Indian
Timings: 12 pm - 12 am
Cost: Rs. 800

The Great Kebab Factory, Radisson Blu
A kekab lover’s fantasy come true, the restaurant offers you some 450 types of kebabs, along with curries, breads, and biryanis. Do try the galouti kebab, burrah kebab and chicken biryani. The zingy vegetarian platter comes with a wide range of innovative green kekabs.
Where: Radisson Blu Marina Hotel, G 59, Connaught Place, New Delhi; 46909000
Cuisine: North Indian
Timings: 12.30 pm - 3pm & 7.30 pm - 11.00 pm
Cost: Rs. 2000

Dhaba, The Claridges, Delhi
This is where you can tuck into dhaba-like food in air-conditioned comfort. The ambience transports you to a highway dhaba, complete with truck pitstops, charpoys and thatched roof. Its signature offering, balti meat, is tender and succulent, and the daal makhni is just perfect.
Where: The Claridges, 12, Aurangzeb Road, New Delhi; 41335082
Cuisine: North Indian
Timings: 12 pm - 2.30 pm & 7.30 pm - 11.30 pm
Cost: Rs. 3000

Karim’s Hotel, Jama Masjid
If you can brave the bustling crowd and occasional goats and sheep to reach Karim’s at Jama Masjid, you are on the path to culinarynirvana. You can dine like a king and pay like a pauper here. Be it the ishtoo, murgh Afghani, or the kebabs — everything is immaculate.
Where: 16, Gali Kebabian, Jama Masjid, New Delhi; 23264981; www.karimhoteldelhi.com
Cuisine: Mughlai/North Indian
Timings: 7 am - 3:30 pm & 6 pm - 11 pm
Cost: Rs. 600

Zune, Hilton, Janakpuri
Different from the Indian restaurants one sees, Zune attempts a unique positioning. Its menu features delicacies from Purani Dilli and Kashmir. Do try the Barrah kebab with the kashmiri spice mixture rubbed on Peshawari styled trimmed double chops, and the Nalli ka salan.
Where: Hilton Hotel, District Centre, Janak Puri, New Delhi; 41234123;
Cuisine: Mughlai/North Indian;
Timings: 12 pm to 3 pm & 7 pm to 12 am
Cost: Rs. 4000

Nizam’s Kathi Kabab, CP
This more than 30 year old food joint revamped its ambience to get the votes of young foodies. That explains the ceiling spruced with Hollywood posters, and modern furniture. A meal here is incomplete without their Pakhtooni Keema Kofta and Mumtazi Korma.
Where: H-Five & Six, Plaza Building, Connaught Place, New Delhi; 23321953
Cuisine: Mughlai/North Indian
Timings: 11 am - 11 pm
Cost: Rs. 600

Crystals awards 2011 nominees:

North Indian
Moti Mahal, Daryaganj A1
Bukhara, ITC Maurya A2
Baluchi, The Lalit A3
Dum Pukth, ITC Maurya A4
Masala Art, The Taj Palace A5
Pindi, Pandara Road A6
Gulati Restaurant, Pandara Road A7
The Great Kebab Factory, Radisson Marina, CP A8
Dhaba, The Claridges, Delhi A9
Karim’s Hotel, Jama Masjid A10
Zune, Hilton, Janakpuri A11
Nizam’s Kathi Kabab, CP A12
Saffron, The Trident, Gurgaon A13
Indian Accent, The Manor A14
Varq, The Taj Mahal A15
Fire, The Park A16
Jamavar, The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri A17
Kainoosh, Vasant Kunj A18
The Daniell’s Tavern, The Imperial A19
Seven, The Suryaa, New Friends Colony A20
Punjab Grill, Saket A21
Made in India, Radisson MBD Noida A22
Dhaba, The Claridges, Suraj Kund A23
Indyaki, Radisson Blu, Pachim Vihar A24
Monsoon, Le Meridian A25
Paatra, Jaypee Vasant Continental A26
Diya, Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon A27

South Indian
Sagar Ratna, Defence Colony B1
Andhra Pradesh Bhawan Canteen B2
Dakshin, The Sheraton B3
Poppadam, Mehrauli B4
Swagath, Hotel Janpath B5
Amaranta, The Oberoi, Gurgaon B6
Spice Water Trail, GK I B7
Purana Villa, Jor Bagh B8
Saravana Bhavan, CP B9
Zambar, Vasant Kunj B10

Regional Indian
Chor Bizarre, Daryaganj C1
Zaffran, The Bristol C2
City of Joy, Noida C3
Souza Lobo, GK I C4
Rajdhani, Netaji Subhash Marg C5
The Oudh, The Ashok C6

Pan asia
Sakura, Gurgaon D1
Wasabi, The Taj Mahal D2
Izakaya, Vasant Kunj D3
Tamura, Green Park Extension D4
Konomi, The Trident, Gurgaon D5
The Yum Yum Tree, New Friends Colony D6
19, Oriental Avenue, Shangri-la D7
Kylin, Vasant Vihar D8
Mamagoto, Khan Market D9
Pan Asian, The Sheraton D10
Ano Tai, Jaypee Vasant Continental D11
Eest, The Westin, Gurgaon D12
Kylin Premier - The Teppanyaki Grill and Sky Bar, Vasant Kunj D13
Shiro, Hotel Samrat D14
Spice Route, The Imperial D15
Red Zen, Courtyard by Marriot D16
Spice by Q’BA, Mehrauli D17
Sampan, The Suryaa, New Friends Colony D18
Side Wok, CP D19

Chinese
My Humble House, ITC Maurya E1
China Garden, GK II E2
The Monk, Galaxy Hotel, Gurgaon E3
The Royal China, The Hilton, Nehru Place E4
Jasmine, Royal Plaza E5

Italian
Diva, GK II F1
Zanotta, The Leela Kempinski F2
Baci, Sundar Nagar Market F3
San Gimignano, The Imperial F4
La Piazza, Hyatt Regency F5
Sartoria, Vasant Vihar F6
Travertino, The Oberoi F7
IT, The Grand F8
Spaghetti Kitchen, Saket F9

European
Olive Beach, Chanakyapuri G1
Smoke House Grill, GK II G2
Sevilla, The Claridges, Delhi G3
The Orient Express, The Taj Palace G4
Lodi - The Garden Restaurant, Lodhi Garden G5
Le Cirque, The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri G6
Mobius, Hotel Samrat G7
Lap Garden, Hotel Samrat G8
West View, ITC Maurya G9

Cafe (Stand alone)
The Big Chill, Khan Market H1
Market Café, Khan Market H2
Café Oz, Khan Market H3
Mocha Art House, Vasant Kunj H4
Amici, Khan Market H5
The Living Room Kitchen & Bar, Hauz Khas H6
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Saket H7
The International Diner, GK H8
Smoke House Deli, Vasant Kunj H9
All American Diner, IHC H10
Café Turtle, Khan Market H11
Urban Café, Khan Market H12
[V] Spot Café + Bar, Saket H13
United Coffee House, CP H14
Café Diva, GK I H15
The Kitchen, Khan Market H16
F Grill, Saket H17
Shalom, GK I H18
Market Café, Vasant Kunj H19

All day dining/Coffee shop (Five Star)
The One, Le Meridien J1
360o, The Oberoi J2
1911, The Imperial J3
Aman Restaurant, The Aman J4
Café, Hyatt Regency J5
Spectra, Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon J6
Machan, Taj Mahal J7
361o, The Oberoi, Gurgaon J8
The Pavilion, ITC Maurya J9
Marbella’s, Tivoli Garden, Chattarpur J10
Café on 3, Double Tree by Hilton, Noida J11

Multi-Cuisine
Q’BA, CP K1
Magique, Mehrauli K2
Setz Restaurant & Bar, Vasant Kunj K3
The Qube, The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri K4
Ummami, Gurgaon K5
1 Boulevard, Saket K6

Mixologist of the year
Who’s the city’s top mixologist whose zeal to innovate has raised the bar in Delhi? The Bellentines Mixologist of the Year awards honours the efforts of such spirited bartenders. The winner will be announced on the night of the HT City Crystals People’s Choice Awards 2011.

The nominees:
Anthony Wilson (Keya)
Santosh Kumar (Sky Bar)
Ravi Ahuja (Dublin)
Ashish Malhotra (F Bar & Lounge)
K M Kamalaksh (Kitty Su)
Rohit Sharma (Nero)
Hemant Kumar Pathak (The Blue Bar)
Vipan Sumen ( Q’BA)
Amit Mehta (Aura)
Virendra Thakur (Agni)

Here’s a one-on-one with two of the nominees, K M Kamalaksh and Hemant Kumar Pathak

K M Kamalaksh, Kitty Su, The Lalit

Q: Mixology to you is:
A: The skill of taking risks, inventing new flavours while following basic rules.

Q: When did you decide to be a mixologist?
A: Eight year ago, while studying at IHM Pusa, I used to do bartending at private parties for pocket money. That’s when I knew I belong to the bars.

Q: Your most innovative cocktail so far:
A: Dressing Room Cocktail — a molecular mixology creation with Cosmopolitan Caviar in classic Bellini.

What are you doing to make things exciting at the newly opened Kitty Su?
A: Whacky drinks such as the Aam Papad Mohito and ultra modern equipment will make the bar stand out.

Q: Your tip for a great cocktail?
A: The key to a perfect cocktail is balance. You can mix up six different exotic ingredients, but if the proportions are not right, your drink is ruined.

Q: What you like most about your profession?
A: Training and getting trained, sharing knowledge and experiences.

Q: One mixology tip that you would like to share
A: Keep experimenting and push the envelope.

Hemant Kumar Pathak, The Blue Bar, Taj Palace

Q: Mixology to you is:
A: Emotions, creative expression…

Q: When did you decide to be a mixologist?
A: The moment I stepped inside Masala Art at the Taj Palace and made my first cocktail at the bar counter in the restaurant. That was in 2008.

Q: Your most innovative cocktail so far:
A: Summer Sazerac made with Guatemalan rum — Ron Zacapa Centenario that I made at the Diageo Reserve World Class.

Q: What makes a great cocktail?
A: The understanding of an alcohol and its compatibility with various ingredients.

Q: What do you love the most about your profession?
A: It gives me an opportunity to take up challenges, to create something new every day.

Q: What do you dislike about your profession?
A: When everyone’s partying, I am at work.

Q: One book you would recommend to all aspiring mixologists?
A: The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan