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Seven joys of life...

Crowne Plaza Surya's Seven restaurant offers seven delights and then some more. Taste some of the finest kababs with some handi chaawal and come back for another helping, suggests SUMITRA SENAPATY....

SEVEN AT New Delhi's Crowne Plaza Surya, opened recently, showcases seven classic styles of cooking under one roof. Well, that is what it says on the menu. Sounds a cholesterol overdose? Not at all! Seven has carefully crafted cuisines by Jiggs Kalra and Marut Sikka. It is an invitation to enjoy the Indian delicacies prepared sans the usual pints of oil that the desi food is known for. Indian fine dining jazzed up in a creative manner.

Décor at the Seven gives a hint of what is to follow. Subtle lighting, lively lilacs and soft blues with interiors of steel and glass create a rather soothing binge environment. There are no strict demarcations between courses and as the Seven's menu is substantial the decision making is left to the chef. He sends an amazing array of starters, sufficient for a satisfactory meal . The piece de resistance is the Shahi Gilaawat Ke Kebab, cooked in the Mahi Tawa. These tender, aromatic, melt-in--the-mouth kababs are gone in a minute. Presented by Mohammed Usman - the grandson of the legendary kabab maker, Tundey Mian - the ingredients used in this kabab are a closely guarded family secret, incorporating close to a hundred and sixty spices. These kababs were originally prepared for Nawabs. .

The vegetarian cooking seems fine too. Try Chenna Paturi, the escallops of paneer, coated with freshly ground mustard and green chillies, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed with wonderful and thoughtful combinations of flavours, textures and colours. Little bowls appear, filled with delicate concoctions and chutneys.

Then come the Bharkhas Pathar Kabab, piccatta of lamb - tenderised in a marinade of pepper, pathar ke phool, kaachri, kebaba, ginger and yoghurt - grilled on Deccan stone. These are simply mind blowing. Theycannot be cooked any other way. Bhatti Da Murgh - chicken legs reserved overnight in non-yoghurt marinade - is a symphony of exotic spices, including the rarely used magga. The combination of the bhatti, the open fire grill and sensitive spicing givesa sophisticated taste to the Murgh. Try the Mewey aur Maawey ki Kakori - a subtle seekh for the vegetarian - crafted from khoya and paneer, blended with roasted almonds and cooked on the grill.

The house speciality is the Murgh Malai Kabab, cubes of boneless chicken, steeped in a marinade of royal cumin-enriched cream, cheddar, garlic and a dash of coriander, glazed in the tandoor. This clay oven creation is a melt-in-the-mouth type of preparation, the rich marinade does hit the spot.

Another speciality of the day is Chowk ki Tikki, potato patties, packed with a rich filling and lightly fried on the tawa. Lemon juice and green cardamom is the keynote in the Kadhai Deep Fried Prawns. Themain dishes that follow after an interval for digestion, are equally exciting as the starters - the Baby Corn and Button Mushrooms, stir-fried in chilli oil, garnished with toasted sesame seeds and fried garlic and the Prawns poached and then stir fried the Bengali way. But even more appealing are the handi curries, a top favourite being the Nalliwala Meat. But somehow, after the dazzling display of starters, the mains didn't quite evoke the same response. But, oh! the roti! Make sure you save some room. And the chaawal, cooked on dum in sealed pots, send forth an intense aroma of Basmati and herbs.

Seven has an atmosphere that is relaxed and the service goes well beyond the call of duty. Staff turns out in chic uniforms designed by Shantanu. Here, you should forget the artificial distinctions between starters

and mains, enjoy them in any order you want, shown to advantage by a modern setting and stylish tableware, in an interactive restaurant.

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