Bangalore restaurant reviews Indian


Tuesday, May 18, 2010Me! In words

Its been a while since we sat down to a truly Indian meal at any of Bangalore's restaurants. So when we were invited to review Umerkot by Sajit Chacko, we were happy to do so. We arrived at the restaurant in Koramangala on a night when it was pouring. Thank the stars for valet parking. We were shown to our table and were pleasantly surprised to see the restaurant almost full to capacity - on a Thursday. A few minutes later we were joined by Chef Sanjay Tyagi as well as Sajit.

A couple of things you should know before you set out to dine at Umerkot. The restaurant specializes in Akbari Gharana food. This means the recipes are reminiscent of the food Akbar had cooked for him by his khansamas wherever he went. Some of the local spices of the places they stopped at were integrated into the cuisine along the way and what resulted was a wonderful repertoire of recipes that are not what you commonly think of as north Indian khana. The spices at Umerkot are subtle and not in your face. No red colored gravies or senseless amounts of makhan here. Its traditional Akbari food the way you have never eaten it before.

We started with some pleasant crisps with a lemon/mustard sauce which was the type you want to dip your finger into and keep sucking on. Anoushka thoroughly enjoyed that. Chef Sanjay was kind enough to get us tasting platters of the food and a complete meal was thus presented. Umerkot specializes in kebabs. Its the chef's signature and we had three wonderful ones to start with.

Crisps with an interesting dip

Bhatti ka Murg - This wonderful chicken was marinated in yogurt and shahi jeera and put in a tandoor. Saying the chicken was soft would be an understatement, since it was cotton soft, all the while retaining the juiciness of the meat and the flavor of the spices it had been sitting in.

Bhatti ka murg to the right

Raunaq e Sheek - minced lamb pounded together with cashewnuts, shaped into sheek rolls and served piping hot. There was no other filling other than the meat, unlike some restaurants that attempt mixing in egg or potato. We were served great-tasting rolls filled only with tender meat, well marinated, well spiced and very very filling.

Teekhi Macchi Tawewali to the left, Raunaq e Sheek

The third starter was the Teekhi Macchi Tawewali - spicy seer fish done to perfection on a tawa. Crisp on the outside, steaming hot and juicy on the inside. All of these were a wonderful combination with the chutneys on the table and the wafer thin slivers of onions and carrots wrapped in a masala papad ring.

The accompaniments to the kebabs

Our drinks for the evening

A sip of my mixed fruit juice and a Corona beer for Sudhakar and we were ready for the main course. The main course was Macchi Masaledar, Murg Kothmiri and Dal Makhni. These were to be had with Ulte Tave ki Parata. Murg Kothmiri was really interesting and my second favorite of the main courses. A layer of kheema covered the chicken that had a generous amount of coriander leaves and a range of spices (can't name them though... there is a reason these recipes have historical significance). Suffice to say that the Murg Kothmiri was a mix of textures and tastes and was brilliant.

Ulte Tawe ki Paratha, Machi Masaledar in the front
and Murg Kothmiri in the background

The Macchi Masaledar was a little more closer to home. A great way to showcase how spices and local flavors combine to make a great dish. The fish was done in a base of ground coconut, coriander, red chillies and curry leaves. The result of finger licking good. The dal makhni, my favorite of the evening - heavenly dal, finished off with melted butter. I chose to eat this with a spoon and with nothing else. It also had a mild tanginess to it which I attributed to a dash of lemon. And that's the way I love my dal.

The really delicious dal makhni

These main courses came with the Ulte Tawe Ki Paratha. This paratha, unlike the conventional naans, kulchas and other breads you commonly find, was kneaded in milk and saffron. The result is cotton-candy soft parathas and also those which come with a unique brownish shade to them. The perfect combination.

Of course, we had to finish off with Umerkot's other specialty, the Biryani - we were therefore served the Gosht Shahi Dum Biryani. Again, this biryani is very different from what you would normally be served. Here, you will have to eat it with a raita or a gravy, especially if you prefer your biryanis moist. The grains of rice were full and not broken as is often seen. The marination of the meat and its softness were unbeatable. The taste too was great, but it is one that you will find completely new.

Gosht Shahi Dum Biryani

We rounded up the meal with pista kulfi. There is a funny story about kulfi and me. This is the only frozen dessert that I truly enjoy. No matter which restaurant I have gone to - 9 out 10 times, they would have run out of kulfi on the day that I ask them for it. This has happened without fail for the past several years. So when kulfi was actually brought to the table without me asking for it, I had a stupid grin on my face. This soon turned to a satisfied one, because it was good.

Pista Kulfi
The food at Umerkot is quite unlike the north Indian food that you may be used to. It is wonderfully refreshing with its use of spices. Sajit even told us that each dish was put together in such a way so that the spices enable easy digestion of heavy meats such as mutton. The Unani system was implemented in cooking as well. What I personally liked was the fact that though spices play a pivotal role in the creation of the food, you will not find bits of cardamom or cinnamon or cloves or any spice for that matter in any morsel of food. This, if found can be extremely annoying.

The restaurant has three seating areas - a semi outdoor one, an air-conditioned inside and a lounge seating style area. A meal for two here can easily hit Rs 1500 inclusive of a drink a person. When full, the restaurant can get a little loud. The loos are clean.

Address: # 30, 80ft road, ST Bed, Koramangala, Bangalore - 560034
Phone: 25500426
Cuisine: Indian, Akbari Gharana
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Valet

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