Why India Still Loves Its Multi-Cuisine Restaurants

The Indian “multi-cuisine” — which emerged over 50 years ago — is what happens when your dad wants masala dosa, your grandparents want Hyderabadi biryani, and your sibling wants fettuccine Alfredo.

Meher Mirza

June 10, 2021

Why India Still Loves Its Multi-Cuisine Restaurants
Kyani & Co. Dhobi Talao Bombay (Mahendra Sinh)

Why do I love Gaylord so? Perhaps because of its perfect Chicken Kiev — a swipe of my knife, and a gush of butter pools onto my plate. Or perhaps it is the kulhar ki tangri — tender chicken drumsticks bolstered by butter and flecked with coriander leaves. Or maybe it’s the hot fudge sundae, ice cream scooped into a tall glass, that brings back honeyed childhood memories.

Gaylord is an iconic Mumbai restaurant that has seen many changes since its inception over 60 years ago. It once featured a live band and a vast Indian, European, and Chinese menu. At one point, it even served Turkish food. Gaylord has since condensed its menu to Punjabi, Mughlai, and continental dishes (the Chicken Kiev, thankfully, has remained a constant), but the menu’s continued success has shaken loose a slew of facsimiles. Restaurants like Gaylord, one of the most formidable fixtures of this genre, offer not only a range of India’s most popular foods but also cuisines from other countries — all on one menu. Udupi restaurants, famous for their dosas and vadas, now offer Chinese and Punjabi food. Kyani’s, one of Mumbai’s most venerable Irani cafes, also added burgers, rolls, and chicken nuggets in the early 2000s. Mahesh Lunch Home, a coastal seafood restaurant, included Chinese and poultry-heavy Punjabi fare in the 1990s. 

Food critics and writers grumble about multi-cuisine restaurants, declaring them “synonymous with uninspired and unauthentic food,” skeptical of one chef’s ability to expertly cook multiple cuisines from different countries. Yet, multi-cuisine eateries which started springing up all across India during the 1950s, remain one of the most popular restaurant formats in India to this day.