‘Dum Pukht’ one of the signature restaurants of the ITC hotels manifests the heritage of the Awadhi cuisine which began as a food for work program in the 18th century and then gathered richness along the way. Saffron, ghee, spices are the firsts that come one’s mind if not kebabs and biryanis. Having experienced the Mumbai outpost Dum Pukht a few times, I went to the Jolly Nabobs at the ITC Windsor, the hotel which exudes the time of the Raj.
Dum Pukht , Dum ‘to breathe in ‘ and Pukht ‘to cook’ , is all about food cooked slowly and the Jolly Nabobs an extension of brand Dum Pukht features dishes inspired from the colonial days in the city, Bloody Mary Salat, Forest Officer’s Pullow etc being some of them. The restaurant décor too speaks of the days when the officer’s had chess boards tiled into their dining tables. Given my experience of the opulence that the cuisine offers, I decided to go ahead with some kebabs, dal and a piece of bread. Khus Khus kebab a mélange of veggies and poppy seeds, the hara kebab a mix of spinach and chana dal and lastly Dudiya kebab a lush paneer kebab stuffed with potatoes and nuts and finished on the griddle. As expected the kebabs did me in however the Dal Dum Pukht, a mix of yellow dal with hung curd and burnt garlic was irresistible and I went on to enjoy it with Naun-e-Bah Khummach , a leavened semolina bread, although I couldn’t finish the latter. I was offered a rice preparation but I could barely move! The non-vegetarians perhaps would want to leave some space for the cult Dum Pukht biryani.
I concluded my meal with a baked begum pudding, flavoured with saffron and crusted with nuts and raisins, the light brandy sauce helps to balance the sweetness well. Dum Pukht fails to disappoint, it is a luxury affair but one wouldn’t mind the splurge.