Bangalore restaurant reviews Expensive

Kebabs and Kurries

Monday, May 07, 2012Me! In words

Eating out is a totally different experience when you come to a star establishment. You expect to be wowed each time and come away very disappointed if you are not. That is one problem we have never had with the ITC Gardenia. Every time we have visited them, there is an honesty about the food that is served, be it at Edo, The Westview Grill House or even Highland Nectar. Yes, it is a star establishment, yet it does not have this plastic coating of artificiality that I personally feel wraps so many other star set-ups. 

That having been said, we were recently invited for a tasting of Kebabs and Kurries latest menu. This menu is an amalgamation of the Dum Pukht, Bukhara and the Dakshin menus to give one a holistic experience of each of the cooking styles for these signature restaurants of the ITC family. The rest of the review will be a pictorial one giving me the freedom to ramble about the finer aspects of Indian dining that we were introduced to. 


The decor is not one of those screaming attempts at selling India Shining. When you come in, you are greeted with a range of Attars, which are subtle and nice. At the table is a wet cloth to wipe away the sweat and grime that this once Garden City now bestows on us. 

Our welcome drink was the Gulabi - This signature drink made of pomegranate, black salt and lemon gives out this gorgeous pink color that is indicative of happiness. Something you are sure to feel at the end of this meal. More like sign of good things to come. It had this sweetness that came from pomegranate seeds and a sharp spiciness as an after taste from the black salt and lemon. Make sure to sip on this slowly so that your mouth is well prepped for what comes next. 

While we were waiting for the tasting to begin, out came the raw salad of onion rings, green chillies and sliced lime. Also some roasted papad with four accompaniments that you see below - the top right corner has the mint and anardana (pomegranate seeds) chutney, a combination which was a first  for me and a very nice one at that. Below that is a garlic pickle which despite being a pickle was on the sweeter side and the garlic cloves were soft, as though cooked instead of the regular hard ones you get in bottled pickles. Next comes the papaya relish, a runny jam texture to it and is the sweet accompaniment to the papad. The last was a roasted Kashmiri chilli chutney which was the one seriously spicy.

Top R clockwise - roasted red chilli chutney, mint and anardana chutney,
garlic pickle and papaya relish

Never really paired wine with Indian khaana before, but we were offered a Portuguese Rose wine called Matues, a sparkling wine which really went well with all the courses that followed without overpowering any of the food in any way. Am not much of a wine person but the only one I really liked was Sula Brut and now this one can be added to my list. 

A glass of the Mateus

And now for the food, we were a sample of three of the signature dishes of. On the left you see the Jumbo prawn starter, the size of which alone took me by surprise. Next to that you have the Murgh tandoor and the famed Sikandari Raan. For us, the one noticeable feature of the prawn and chicken was the the outer portions were cooked to crisp, yet tasty texture and the insides retained most of the natural moisture, making this dishes great to nibble on, with the wine on the side. The chicken had on a marinade of yoghurt, malt vinegar, ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, red & yellow chilies, turmeric powder & garam masala, all of which worked their wonders on the meat. 

The Sikandari Raan is what Anoushka fell in love with and this is a signature of the Bukhara fame. An entire leg of lamb is marinated in malt vinegar, black cumin & cinnamon, braised, skewered & finished in a tandoor. This is then shredded and served. Every mouthful alternates between crisp and soft. Some tastes cannot be explained and have to be savored, so will leave it at that.

L To R - Tandoori Jhinga, Murgh Tandoor, Sikandari Raan

Before we went in for the main course, we took a much needed break at the end of which we were served a specialty which had quite the novelty factor to it - the Murgh Khushk Purdah. Here boneless chicken is flavored with star anise, grilled in the tandoor and the dum cooked with vegetables. The flour based covering that envelopes the plate serves as the roti that goes with this chicken dish. When your steward cuts through the center of the 'purdah', the aroma that wafts through will have the whole restaurant turning around for a glimpse. 

The Khushk Purdah, before it was sliced open and then served on the plate below 

And then onto the main course. From the top of the curve of bowls, you see the famous dal makhani - soft dals cooked lavishly in butter and then lashed with some more for effect. This is one bowl that I ate as is - no breads required. The next bowl had the Mahi Qaliya, roundels of rohu cooked in mustard oil gravy enhanced with fenugreek seeds and infused with fresh coriander, ginger & lemon juice. Though we began to eat it with the roti, we were advised to hold some to mix with plain rice. The tastes are vastly different with me favoring the rice more. 

The next was the Murgh Handi Qorma - a brown onion gravy cooked with yogurt and a spice powder which of course will remain close to the chef's heart. This was mild a gravy tempered with some rose water. And then we had in the last bowl - the Handi kofteh - balls of minced lamb in a tomato gravy. We were served two breads - the butter naan, which had butter woven into every layer of the naan, making it soft as cotton and the naan-e-bakhumai, which is a house specialty - on the thicker side and peppered with sesame seeds. This can easily be eaten on its own, though the gravies add a special touch. 

Each of these gravies looked rather thick in texture, but when you put it in your mouth, you find an unbeatable lightness to it. Each of them had the stock of its meat as its base adding to its flavor. Even after all of this, we still have a little tummy space to work with and we knew we needed it. 
Top of the curve downwards - Dal Makhani, Mahi Qaliya,
Murgh Handi Qorma and Handi Kofteh

Can you leave an Indian meal without a biryani, of course not and this goes for whether you have the space for it or not. The atta seal was broken before us and the biryani served - at first glance it honestly did not look like much. I had this faint inkling of that star hotel let down that I mentioned earlier. Had a bite of the meat to begin with and thought ok, not bad, it has been treated well, but the real whammy came when we had the rice - for something that lacks the heavy masalas that biryanis we know normally have, this was right from the serving plates of the biryani gods. The chef explained that the meat was first bhuna'fied' and then the stock used to cook the rice to which aromatics have been added and finally a sprinkling of rose water. If for nothing else, I will be back for the biryani. Teamed with the thick raita, we were in heaven.

And then of course dessert. The Shaan-e-Aam, Rabdi that had fresh mango puree incorporated into it. This was poured into a large conical dessert cup that was then inserted into a glass of ice. A cool really refreshing dessert and the classic ending to the meal. 

A lot of food discussions took place over this meal and the chef explained how masalas for the meats and for any aspect of cooking were done at the restaurant - that of course went without saying. However the fact that there are what are known as Tanday (cooling) masalas along with the garam masalas that we know, was something new for me. These masalas can be altered according to the seasons without really forgoing the flavors. Oh! and one more thing - garlic naans are not really made here unless you specifically ask for it. The main reason being that garlic can over power the flavors of the food being served. Service of course is courteous but more importantly it is well informed. An average meal for two will be around Rs 2800++ and the loos are sparkling, needless to add.

Address: #1, Residency Road, Bangalore - 560025
Phone: 22119898
Cards Accepted: Yes
Parking: Valet

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