The South Asian Times

23 October 2017 09:36 AM

United Coffee House: Food and conversation destination for 75 years

By Nivedita

New Delhi, June 8: With a legacy of 75 years, United Coffee House (UCH) has been witness to the changing landscape and food culture of Delhi. Many food outlets came and went, but this iconic restaurant in the heart of the capital still stands tall and continues to draw patrons of all ages.

It continues to make food aficionados fall in love with its traditional delicacies which have stood the test of time and evolving tastes since the British era.

The seed of inception for UCH goes way back to the early 1930s when the undivided India had Delhi, Lahore and Sialkot under the same canopy. It is during these times that Lala Hansraj Kalra, Akash Kalra's grandfather, started UCH, Delhi's first western-style café in Connaught Place, the city's commercial centre, where the city's cognoscenti went to dine and to linger over laughter and conversation and endless cups of cona coffees.

Asked about the journey, Akash, who is taking the legacy of the place forward, told IANS: "It has evolved from a coffee place from decade to decade, and the journey also saw the evolution of the crowd who now comes to make and revisit memories, rather than just having food.

"The place has gained popularity and in the 75 years of this institution, the menu got inspired by world cuisine. The menu evolved, imbibing the signatures and highlights of every passing era. From Mughlai cuisine, Northwest frontier, Punjabi and Kayastha dishes, British club food classics to the likes of European and French food palette, the outlet saw an amalgamation of the heart and soul of popular world cuisines," he added.

Not only did the European and British cuisine become popular and famous, but Asian, Mexican and QSR (Quick service restaurant) recipes became a part of the UCH menu as well. It now serves up as many as 600 items of world cuisines and offers diners an all-day experience.

Some of the popular dishes served at the restaurant are Tomato Fish, Coq Au Vin, Chicken a la Kiev, Nargis Ke Kofte, Cheese Balls and Keema Samosa.

"This place invited people from different walks of life to exchange their ideas. The time of opening was not a natural choice of openings as 1942 was the time when a lot of intellectuals wanted to come and sit and exchange ideas. Slowly, Indians were getting educated and they were coming out to have a more democratic environment.

"It became famous for people to sit around and enjoy their time, so our identity became unique," said Akash.

Apart from food, another highpoint of the restaurant is its cosy ambience and friendly atmosphere. However, avoid going during peak hours as the chances are you might have to wait for your food because of the huge turnout of food lovers.

With beautiful floral designs on the walls, huge Venetian chandeliers hanging from the roof, a vintage looking bar and soft music playing in the background, this place will warm up your heart with its old-world charm.

With the tag of being the only outlet of UCH in all of Delhi, Akash has no intention of opening another UCH.

"I don't want to make two Qutub Minars in one city."

Update: 08 June, 2017

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