In a nutshell:
Excellent décor, trained & courteous staff, some outstanding food & some just average food, at prices that are on the higher side.
Address & other details: Dum Affairs
Meal for 2: Rs. 2200 onwards (without beverages)
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
If u have expat guests & want to give them a taste of good Indian food that will not give them a Delhi Belly, this is the place. If u want to go out on a date & have indian food, u might consider this. If u r thinkin of meeting friends in a nice environment with some good food , this place is a good option. A family outing to a nice restaurant for celebration – once again this qualifies. However, if u r a hardcore foodie to whom tastebuds only matter & not ambience, or to whom a dori kabab on an Old Delhi roadside amidst huge flow of human traffic butt brushing u constantly is super exciting, then this Restaurant might throw up some disappointments.
Well let me try to xplain this. There r very limited ‘excellent’ Indian food Restaurants in Delhi. If u narrow down to Awadhi cuisine (Lucknowi food), then ur options r highly limited to say the Legendary Dum Pukth, Kainoosh or say Indian accent. Indian fine dining is rare & specially if u r a fan of Dum food (slow cooked over low fire – a Lucknowi tradition).
My experience at Dum affairs was very good but has been surely better at Kainoosh, IndianAccent & the big Boss – Dum Pukth. I will happily part with Rs. 6000 for 2 at Dum Pukth but having paid Rs. 2800 for 2 at Dum affairs, I feel it is a bit overpriced. Its like a 2 hrs flight vs. a 14 hrs AC 1 Rajdhani. That is the difference.
The staff is extremely courteous & have good relevant product knowledge. They were quite attentive too, to our needs.
The ambience, as I mentioned, was very good. Nothing Awadhi about it but just plain good. Music was modern day Bollywood – I did not really get the connection of that with Lucknow.
The food was a mix of outstanding & average. Authenticity did not seem to be a focus & the Chef has done a good job at doing some of the fusion cuisines. However, it wud have been good if the menu card displayed which ones r fusion & which ones authentic. For some dishes, that was obvious but it wasn’t obvious for the rest.
The first page of the menu card was a shocker to me – It had a section called ‘For the health freaks’ with salads etc. That was the most inappropriate section in a Lucknowi Restaurant – ‘healthy Lucknowi food’ is nothing short of an oxymoron.
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
The papads served were freshly made & still warm (unlike in most places these days).
Green chutney was very good. It had a curd base.
For starters, we tried Mahi & Dill Kabab. It was shallow fried kabab made from minced sea bass (fish)& fresh dill leaves garnished with kabab masala. I have never come across anything like this in Lucknowi cuisine but irrespective of authenticity issues, this was a marvel of a dish. The kababs were outstanding. Soft & slighty tight outer fried layer & super soft , mildly juicy inside. The dill leaves made a huge difference & the Chef created magic by converting an almost flat tasting fish to such an awesome dish. I wud give this 4.5/5.
Next came Josh e nalli. It was ‘cardamom & mace tinged shanks of Lamb cooked in lamb jus with saffron’ – read the menu card. The gravy was just too good. I finished it off till the last drop. I wud say the gravy was 4.5/5.
The meat pieces were served very thoughtfully. Aluminium foils were wrapped at the end so that one does not need to touch the piece but also have it holding it in the hand. The pieces were soft but almost falling off. Nalli is usually a supersoft piece that has a unique texture. Here the texture got hampered. I wud give the meat pieces 3.5/5.
We were also given a narrow metal instrument to extarct the marrow from the nalli – thoughtful one again.
Overall this dish wud b 4/5.
We enjoyed this with Khameeri roti that was just appropriate & good.
Our disappointment for the evening came in the form of Gosth ki Biryani. The menu card describes it as ‘Finest Basmati rice & superb lamb cooked on dum with cardamom & mace’. Reading this, I cud not have imagined that what will be served is some fusion version that does not meet the basic requirement of Lucknowi Dum Biryani.
Traditional Lucknowi Dum Biryani has long, independent, melt in the mouth soft grains of rice with flavored melt in the mouth pieces of lamb. Traditional ones drip in ghee & the newer versions have lower content of ghee. The rice & lamb is cooked together & hence the flavors get to permeate each other.
The biryani here was served in a clay pot sealed from the top with maida. Visually it appeared genuine. But the moment it landed on my tastebuds, they raised an alarm. The strands of rice were not independent, were broken & hence shortened in size & had the consistency of a dry khichdi!!!!! There was a mild sour aftertaste which again is not common in any Lucknowi Biryani. The meat pieces were far from being melt in the mouth. Infact they were reddish towards the inside (near the bones). The reddishness was similar to the inside of medium done beefsteaks. They were just soft & at times chewy!!!!
Leaving the authenticity /traditional part aside & also not considering the price, this was a dish with an average taste that miserably failed to leave a mark.
At Rs. 650 a plate, this was a sure disaster. I wud lick my fingers at Idris ki Biryani Lucknow (Rs. 40),at Tunday Kababi (Rs. 100), at kainoosh (closer to the price at Dum affairs ) & of course at Dum Pukth. I wud give the Biryani at Dum Affairs 2.5/5.
The Biryani was served with very good cumin tempered burrani raita.
The dessert was again superb. Jaggery (Gur) & Fennel (Shaunf) Phirnee – It was served in the traditional burnt clay bowl. The texture was closer to ‘makha sondesh’ as it was less danedaar & more dense as compared to the usual one. The saunf & the gur made a huge impact & turned the ubiquitous phirnee to a superb dessert. Hats off to chef for this fusion. I wud give this 4.5/5.
So overall I wud give a 3.9/5 to our dinner experience at Dum affairs.
Look forward to revisiting & I promise to my tastebuds to never try Biryani here again.