At least once a week, Satish Mishra, 54, and his Delhi-based family of five dine in a multi-cuisine restaurant that offers not only South Indian and Mughlai food on their menu, but also pizza, Chinese, and Continental cuisine. Service is quick and efficient and the food is tasty. The marketing professional’s teenage children choose fast food like pizzas and burgers, while he and his wife have their comfort food of rotis and curries. Mishra’s elderly mother is happy with her dosas with chutney. How Indian food curried favour with British, and vice versa Multi-cuisine restaurants have been a staple of India’s restaurant scene for more than 50 years, and even though foodies may turn their noses up at establishments that claim to be able to cook a variety of cuisines, such restaurants have maintained their appeal among diners. It allows family and friends with varying taste buds and inclinations to dine together and eat what they like. Said Shweta Rao, is a software professional in Bangalore: “Often a group of friends or family can’t agree on one particular cuisine and results in a meal that is eaten grudgingly by at least one person. But multi-cuisine restaurants offer an opportunity for everyone to be happy.” This is also because waiters at multi-cuisine restaurants are generally long-time employees who know their menu and guests well. Most are also open throughout the day. According to food historian Kurush F Dalal, the evolution of multi-cuisine restaurants came from Indian restaurants simply trying to attract more customers. “They were of two grades – some were high-end and offered both Indian and a gentrified Continental cuisine, and became very popular with upmarket families dining out,” he said. “There were other low-end multi-cuisine restaurants that offered a mix of South Indian, Mughlai and Chinese food that had inexpensive but tasty food and fast service.” Not just chicken tikka: south India’s Tamil food gets its moment in the sun Gaylord in Mumbai is a legendary multi-cuisine restaurant with an old-world charm, that dates back to 1956, and was one of the first to offer a mix of European, Indian and Continental food. There are not too many places where you can have an Irish stew along with a Murgh Makhni. Even today, it’s a popular place with both a cafe and a bakery and classics on its menu. The revamped 80-year-old Kwality’s in Connaught Place in the heart of New Delhi is another example of a successful multi-cuisine restaurant that has been frequented by generations of Indians. With a Raj-era charm, and dressed up servers, their eclectic menu has everything from Vietnamese cold coffee and Indian lassis to burgers, kebabs and bread and butter pudding. Sucheta Rawal, a US-based travel writer who grew up in Chandigarh in North India, has great memories of frequenting fast food-style Indian multi-cuisine restaurants Hot Millions as a young girl, “where you could get anything from a pizza and burger to a dosa”. “It was always fun and casual and appealing to a whole group and a great concept for friends or families to dine together,” she said. “Multi-cuisine restaurants also developed in Indian business hotels where there was limited space and having different speciality restaurants like five-star restaurants, was not feasible,” explains Dalal. These hotels usually had a 24-hour coffee shop that served a buffet breakfast and had an assortment of menu items from different cuisines- from sandwiches to a dosa, but they were more for hotel guests and did not necessarily have the best chefs. In India, Maggi noodles finds its way into pakoras, parathas and milkshakes But many discerning diners and foodies avoid multi-cuisine restaurants and say their food is always mediocre. Rob Peck, an American married to an Indian who lives in Chennai, said: “I disagree with these restaurants conceptually as no single chef can master all the different sections on these extensive menus. I see it more as a convenience.” Reem Khokhar, a Delhi based journalist said that to her they feel “old fashioned and faded, and never seem to offer authentic food”. In recent times, the multi-cuisine restaurant has taken a different avatar and permeated five-star hotels. At the plush five-star Leela Ambience in the city of Gurugram southwest of New Delhi is Spectra - an all-day multi-cuisine restaurant that offers a potpourri of international cuisines from several continents from Thai and Indian to Singaporean and even Malaysian and Japanese , with cooking stations and a band of talented chefs presiding over. From a Goan chicken roll to an Indonesian satay or a Japanese Hamachi Carpaccio- this is the best of all worlds. Chef Ashish Bhasin, the hotel’s culinary and F&B director, said variety is part of the multi-cuisine restaurant experience, as the different spices, flavours and cuisines are enjoyed by people from different nationalities and religions. “I think that the diversity that multi-cuisine restaurants bring on the table unites the guests who dine there”.