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Mix and match your food... .

Not too far from Parliament House. Not too close to Regal. Restaurant Ten on New Delhi's Parliament Street is strategically placed and offers varied delights to food-lovers. UPENDRA TANKHA has a delicious bite... .

What's cooking at 10 Parliament Street?

ENGLAND IS now a mere shadow of its grand old empire days, sans territory, sans pomp, but the Raj still rolls on in India: When a new restaurant at 10 Parliament Street has to be named, it's christened Ten, a reminder of the colonial days when the British Prime Minister actually decided over the fate of the subcontinent from his residence at 10 Downing Street. But the name happens to be pithy as well as modern and the multicuisine it offers has just the right flavour -- you can pick your choice of continental, Thai, Mexican and Indian cuisines. Here mix and match is the order of the day but if you are conservative, you have the option of sticking to a single favourite cuisine. But the funny thing is there is no English food except for a non-fixed pudding now and then.

The largish cafe restaurant can seat 62 people and opens out to a well-manicured lawn which is always green unless the erratic municipal water supply falls short during the midsummer heat. The space has been provided by the YWCA International Guesthouse to entrepreneur Arun Kashyap whose firm, BL Kashyap and Sons, looks after the YMCA estates at Mussoorie.

At the beginning, I savour the soup of the day, made out of a mishmash of various seasonable vegetables. It is priced at Rs.50. Starters range from the ubiquitous Dim Sum and crisp, hot tandoori items to chicken satay and nachos. The chef tells his customers to try hot chicken nuggets priced between Rs.65 and 115.

There were four starters and I eat portions from all. They are nachos, crispy tortilla chips with vegetarian topping garnished with melted cheese, quesadillas, jumbo chips filled with cheese, tomatoes, capsicum and salsa sauce, chicken satay, chicken pieces served with spicy peanut sauce and prawn cocktail, shrimps on a bed of lettuce served with a mix of sauce.

For main course, the vegetarian dishes are roesti, a crisp potato pan cake topped with onion, corn and black mushrooms garnered with cheddar cheese and egg plant moussaka sliced egg plant with tomato cheese and special sauce. They are followed by red hot prawn curry served with boiled steaming rice and an Indian dish murgh tikka makhanwala, chicken pieces in butter sauce to be eaten with naan.

For the yuppie, junk-food devouring crowd there is Italian-style sizzling hot pasta, which has been moderately priced at Rs.110. Thai green curry is made with medium-sized prawns, fish sauce and coconut sauce. Though the prawns taste all right, the sauce tastes a wee weird to my taste buds. Maybe, the Orientals, I mean the Koreans, Japanese, Cantonese and Malaysians eat it just that way. I eat the crispy prawns and say goodbye to the sauce. The chef tells me that he may have added a little bit more of fish sauce and the flavour may have become nasty because North Indians aren't used to eating items mixed with coconut.

During pleasanter evenings, in the far future perhaps, customers might dare to sit out in the lawns and order snacks and tea. Till then the airconditiioned space is the one to be in. As the food is rather well done, more and more customers are showing up by the day.

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