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Restaurant Review : 64/6, East Delhi, India

Restaurant 64/6
Site IV, Sahibabad, Distt Ghaziabad, 201010 East Delhi
91 120 4180000
Cuisine: Vegetarian
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Arguably one of the most innovative vegetarian restaurants in the world, writes Manju Malhi from Delhi.
As lifestyles dramatically change due to social and economic developments, so do the eating habits of the people in India. Indian food cannot be separated easily from its social and religious context.
And the two religions that have had the most influence on India’s cuisine are Hinduism and Islam. The Hindu vegetarian tradition is widespread in India, although many Hindus eat meat too. Strict vegetarianism is mostly confined to the South and the state of Gujarat in the west.
So it was an unusual and pleasant surprise to see a new dining concept in northern India where many are meat eaters stretching to great lengths to create a one hundred percent vegetarian restaurant - right down to sourcing non-bone china.
Chef Sumit Sinha who has worked extensively for the famous Taj group of hotels said that vegetarian food had taken a back seat for a long time. He felt it was time to come up with something new and innovative. So he came up with 64/6 (64 by 6 - which is simply the first line of the restaurant’s address).
Right down to the china which doesn’t contain any bone but is strictly porcelain, 64/6 is a spacious buffet-style restaurant where one can choose from a generous selection of sixty-six items.
From Italian fare using eggless pasta and vegetarian mozzarella from Italy to water chestnuts from Thailand for their Chinese dishes, this eatery caters to all tastes.
I took a sip from a Green Apple Virgin Mojito and tasted the Haryali Kebabs which were delicate and soft with a fresh mint and coriander flavour. The Green Peas Patties were small risolles that were a gorgeous bright green colour evidently found naturally in India’s seasonal crop. The Shahi Paneer looked creamy and I could see flecks of real Indian saffron in the preparation.
Dishes from the various regions of India are covered very well and there is a focus on authenticity when it comes to anything that is ‘Indian’ on the menu. For their northern dishes, the food is prepared with Mathenaia chillies from Gujarat and Rajasthan, and Nellore chillies for the Southern lentil dish of Sambhar. I loved the indulgent taste of the Achari Gobhi - a spicy cauliflower dish made with five spices which were fennel, mustard, asafoetida, nigella and fenugreek seeds. Every bite had a different taste sensation.
It was also interesting to see salads given centre stage for once with four different kinds of yogurt based varieties to pick from. I particularly enjoyed the Kedegu Ananas - a pineapple salad made with strong coarsely ground mustard seeds.
From the bakery floats a comforting yeasty waft of European bread. A  clay oven in the dining area is specially for naans. It was a challenge for the pastry chefs to come up with dishes using no egg whatsover in their preparations but they managed to pull it off with a selection of cakes ranging from Black Forest Gateau to a Strawberry Mousse Cake (and yes, before you ask, there is no gelatine). Ice creams are not overlooked and I tried a Mango and Fig cream Sundae from the Tepinyaki bar with a drizzling of orange sauce created from fresh oranges and seasoned with Indian honey.
When in Delhi, you're bound to visit the Taj Mahal, well I’d suggest a quick stop en route right here. Getting directions, the locals may not have heard of it but ask them where the Dabur Building is and 64/6 should be easy to locate.
One thing I couldn’t find on the menu was a veggie burger of some sort and asked Sumit why not. He told me that the key is to never impersonate anything that is non-vegetarian. There were certainly no meat imposters here, but I can guarantee that the Indian hospitality was truly genuine.

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30 September 2009
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