When the ITC Maratha Mumbai invited UrbanEye.in in to ‘sample the art form of Dum Pukht’, I wasn’t quite sure what they were referring to. Was it the artwork in the restaurant? Was it the artistic legacy that inspired the décor? Was it the art and finesse that went into the service? Or was it the art of creating a meal, quite literally, fit for a King? The answer to my questions would soon follow, in what would be one of the most luxurious dining experiences in my years of reviewing Indian restaurants in Mumbai.
The new and improved Dum Pukht, one of ITC Hotel’s most respected brands, recently reopened in Mumbai offering diners in the city a sophisticated address for a meal par excellence in a decor that is spectacular beyond belief. Entering the restaurant seems like stepping into another era altogether. Rich and lavish décor with motifs from the Mughal era, ornate chandeliers and Zardozi elements manifest themselves tastefully without ever appearing kitsch or overbearing. The colour palette of the décor features generous use of white with orange and red elements to break the monotony. The winners are undoubtedly the intricate motifs that can be seen everywhere.
Lavish table settings greet the diner with gold lined specially customised Villeroy and Boch crockery and silver cutlery gives a sense of unmatched luxury.
One of India’s most prestigious and well known cuisine brands, Dum Pukht, specialises in cuisine from the courts of Awadh. It appears that Awadhi cooks introduced the currently trendy genre of ‘slow food’ to their masters centuries before us. Based on the technique of slow cooking referring as ‘dum’ which involved huge vats of finely flavoured meat, vegetables and rice sealed off with dough, Dum Pukht immortalises this highly refined culinary art. The process of slow roasting brings out the best flavours while the sealed dough lid retains the juices and aromas of the food.
So the chef (who, apparently, comes from a family of Awadhi chefs and who has been practicing this style of cooking since he was a boy) put together the following menu for us so that we could sample his restaurant’s highlights.
In spite of our exacting standards when it comes to food, it was hard to find any flaws in terms of flavours, textures, presentation and service. A rarity in Mumbai, these days.
Murg khushk parda
- Kakori Kebab (A delicate melt-in-your-mouth kabab of finely minced lamb, flavoured with cloves and cinnamon, wrapped around a skewer and char grilled, served with sprinkling of saffron)
- MahiDariya (Fillet of river sole marinated with green chilli, cloves and cinnamon; dipped in butter milk batter, flavoured with royal cumin seeds; fried to light golden crisp, sprinkled with lemon juice)
- SeekhNilofari (Mix of puffed lotus seeds and lotus stem, flavoured with fresh herbs, mace and green cardamom. Grilled on a skewer and sprinkled with aromatic kebab masala)
- Dudiya Kebab (Roundels of cottage cheese, filled with spiced, mashed potatoes, shallow fried and finished on dum)
- ShahiNehari (Prime cuts of lamb, cooked overnight with aromatic potli masala, then assimilated with extract of Basmati in milk and almond paste)
- MurgKhushk Purdah (A resplendent dish of boneless chicken, cured with a star anise scented marinade, grilled in tandoor and dum cooked with an assortment of vegetables and a sprinkling of mace, behind a purdah of puff pastry)
- Raan-E-Dum Pukht (Leg of lamb marinated in dark rum, stuffed with onions, pickled garlic and cheese; cooked on dum)
- MaashQaliya (Split green moong lentils, slow cooked with spinach, fresh ginger and green chillies; tempered with white cumin seeds and topped with browned onions)
- Khamiri Roti (Whole wheat sour dough bread, baked in a tandoor
- WarqiParantha (Exotic ajwainflavoured multi-layered bread, baked in clay tandoor)
- Mande (Paper thin whole wheat flour bread, cooked on an inverted dome shaped griddle)
- Dum Pukht Biryani (Basmati rice and lamb, simmered with mace ittar and kewra; finished in a sealed handi)
The Miele Guide (the Asian equivalent of the Michelin gastronomic guide) named Dum Pukht as one of the top 20 restaurants in Asia. There seems to be a debate about this. We see no reason why. This is restaurant that offers authentic, non-bastardised fare in an absolutely stunning setting, delivers the promised authenticity and, while doing so, allows the diner to enjoy gastronomic excellence in its purest form.
Without hesitation and with great pleasure, UrbanEye.in votes Dum Pukht Mumbai as the country’s best Indian restaurant.
ITC Maratha Mumbai, Mumbai Airport.
Hours: Open for dinner, 7:00 PM – 11:45 PM
Dress Code: Formals/Smart Casuals