Amidst fears of the economy slowing down, Dum Pukht the “Nawabi” restaurant at Hotel ITC Maratha had a different story to tell, it buzzing on a Thursday night was truly the silver lining of India’s growth story.
The table setting with Silver show plates, pristine white china ware, perfectly lined up cutlery triggered our hunger pangs even further as we slid into our seats. We quickly tried to rush through the menu only to end up reading every description carefully, as much as the amount of care that went into creating it including the wine recommendations for each course at the end of the menu.
We ordered the Timatar Shorba, Hara Kabab Awadhi and Seekh Nilofari to begin with. The Shorba (Tomato soup) served with wheat crisps was in simple terms disappointing, the sourness was very pronounced and the spice mix which is the core lacked balance. I am yet to taste one of the “Pakhtoon” fame, the restaurant at now shut Juhu Centaur.
The service was prompt and our starters arrived in good time and brought along with them a pleasing scent of ghee, however I was startled looking at the portion size , 3 pieces of the Hara Kabab and 4 of the seekh for around INR 1200 each was steep I thought. The kabab was eased into our plates and was served with Sheermal. The kebab was a spinach patty cooked in copious amounts of ghee and stuffed with gram lentils and pan-fried. It was crumbly and mildly spiced, almost melt in mouth kinds. Sheermal, a lightly sweetened flatbread made out of refined flour, milk and saffron was the best I have ever tasted. The Seekh on the other hand had a completely different texture, firm and dry and it came with navratan chutney. The seekh was made of Lotus stem and puffed lotus seeds; I must admit I could not appreciate the flavours of the key ingredients as I have not tasted them in sometime. It was heavy on Indian spices and went well with the green chutney; a slightly moist seekh would have made it even better.
Qorma, Salan, Nihari were all given a miss for mains, by the virtue of us being vegetarians; we ordered a Dum Aloo with Khameeri Roti ( Sour dough flat bread) and Naan-e-bah Khummach (a semolina and wheat dough flat bread, topped with poppy and aniseed). The cylindrical potatoes stuffed with cashews, pomegranate seeds in the gravy had an entrenched flavour of charcoal which made it special.
Dessert was not on cards as we were almost “chokeslammed” by then,but we could not resist the Lauz Gahun Gondi (Lauz for Almonds ,Ghaun for Wheat and Gondi for edible gum) as it looked different,the menu said, “Pudding made from whole wheat and edible gum”. It was not too sweet and the texture was almost Mohanthal or besan Ladoo like, with a lingering aftertaste.
The experience at Dum Pukht was truly an overdose for culinary richness and opulence with warm service. We raked up a bill of around INR6000 for 2 without drinks, may be this is what royalty is all about!