Iconic Restaurant Food

For that ‘Kwality’ fare

In an age when new restaurants are sprouting up in every nook and corner of Delhi, an equal number shut shop as they struggle to survive the fierce competition.

Yet, there are a handful of restaurants that have stood the test of time, and Kwality, in Connaught Place, is one such place. It has been around for 80 years and has evolved to keep up with the times. What sets the restaurant apart is the consistency of some of the bestselling dishes that old-timers still swear by. While the bhaturas are almost synonymous with Kwality, it serves many other inimitable specials including cheese balls, mulligatawny soup, prawn cocktail and paneer shashlik, all of which are said to have been introduced to India during the colonial era, thus giving rise to Anglo-Indian cuisine.

Early days

Sunil Lamba, who now runs the place, takes us back to the time when Kwality first opened its doors in 1940. “PL Lamba, opened this restaurant in partnership with his brother-in-law, IK Ghei,” he shares. The coveted location in the then uppity Connaught Place drew customers in huge numbers to this family-run restaurant. Being a part of the business since his youth, Sunil attributes Kwality’s success to the vision of its founders. On one hand they catered to rich Indian families, while on the other they included Continental dishes to suit the British and Americans GIs stationed here during the Second World War. Soon, Kwality became an iconic restaurant and also opened restaurants in London, New York and Japan.

Lessons overseas

It was during a trip to America that they learnt the craft of making ice-cream bricks, as opposed to home-made ones that were earlier served at Kwality. This helped them enjoy unparalleled success for years, as Kwality ice-cream became a leading brand in North India.

The restaurant still stands tall at its original location. The place has also been revamped with Divij Lamba (Sunil’s son), spearheading the design project. The new interiors create a time warp with period furniture that includes leather, wood and brass, a piano lounge and a typical maharaja-style polo bar, littered with antiques. There are almost 70 original photographs of Connaught Place, spanning a period of 40 years, by famous photographer Madan Mahatta. And, the food is served in bespoke crockery and cutlery “from Villeroy & Boch, Germany”. The piano is put to good use with daily recitals during high tea and dinner. On weekends, there are jazz performances. Over time, Divij hopes to bring back traditions such as a dress code, formal high teas and midnight dances.

In this fortnightly column, we take a peek at some of the country’s most iconic restaurants

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 4:31:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/iconic-restaurant-kwality-explore-history-with-this-80-year-old-delhi-restaurant/article26455746.ece

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