In a nutshell:
One of the finest Awadhi food I have had recently , a class apart, better than not only many others but also as compared to some other dum pukhts.
Address & other details: Dum pukht
Meal for 2: Rs 3000 onwards.
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short description – in case u r in a hurry:
Awadhi cuisine to me is an art in itself – subtle, never ‘on the face’, yet leaves a permanent mark.
One of the best ways to enjoy Awadhi ( Lucknowi food) is to go to lucknow over a long weekend and just hop from shop (eatery / restaurant) to shop, walk a lot, drink a lot of water ( maybe gulp a few pudin haras after meals) and see the historical places. That experience wud include walking thru an overcrowded road to Rahim’s near Chowk where u don’t decide which way to go but the crowd pushes u along or the visually non impressive shack idris opposite patanala police station that dishes out amazing biryani…… And more.
However what most of those restarants serve is the food of ‘common man / aam aadmi’ of lucknow few centuries back. The royal chefs of nawabs I wud assume wud add a few more expensive spices, better variety and cuts of meat, elaborate preparation methods etc to make the same dish special (or ‘value added’ as they call it these days).
Read about YUMMRAJ’s stories of LUCKNOW culinary pilgrimage here: Lucknow
Dum pukht does a fabulous job of presenting the royal Lucknow food in all its grandeur – unmissable I wud say, if u r in Delhi and do not hv the time / energy to go to Lucknow for a food trip / want to try Awadhi food, in Nawabi style, not Aam Aadmi style.
Dum Pukht Delhi also suggested wine pairing with food – I found reading that interesting.
What needs to b noted is that the food experience in this Dum Pukht was quite better than the one at Kolkata – I guess & I was told that the Delhi one is the best. Read YUMMRAJ’s review of Dum Pukht at ITC Sonar, Kolkata here – Dum Pukht Kolkata.
The restaurant dining hall was recreated in Lucknowi way – it had pillars and arches and elaborate old traditional chandeliers.
We chose a corner that had natural lighting. Always prefer that.
The menu card was written like a book – many stories, food history, etymology and more. I spent a good bit of time reading all that was written.
Each dish had a good simple description.
Service was personalised and really warm. Our server kept talking to us thruout our stay and we enjoyed the conversation. We thoroughly enjoyed a 5 minutes food chat with a senior gentleman who came to meet us ( and other guests as well).
Piped music retro Bollywood instrumental was playing in the background.
Food was awesome in general – the kind that creates lasting memories.
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to NJOY reading:
We started our afternoon with Kakori kabab. It was poetry on the plate. Our eyes closed as the kakori kabab hit the taste buds. We almost forgot our surroundings for few seconds. There was pin drop silence. Slowly we heard the sound of our breathing and realised we had stopped talking ever since the food came – speechless in short.
The kababs were Super Soft, melt in the mouth, bursting with flavours in every bite till the last bite – no getting used to, no olfactory illusion. Our taste buds started cheering in joy. A tinge of hot, Flavor of spices and awesome meat made the Kakori memorable. Rate it 4.95/5
For drink we ordered Jaljeera. It was intense, flavourful & balanced in terms of sour and salt. Fresh, crisp, Boondi on top added value to the drink. Loved it & rate it 4.5/5
Next dish we ordered was Habibia chops – lamb chops marinated with black cumin, black pepper, figs, malt vinegar and then cooked on a griddle before being finished on the dum. That was the description on the menu card in the kabab section. We cud not imagine what it really was. What came on the plate was chops with a little amount of (what looked like) gravy on top – it was not really gravy I wud say but the cooked marinade on the top.
The lamb chops were very good on their own. Super soft, full of flavours of meat and the spices. Yumm to taste. However, on a relative scale this was the weakest dish in our lunch….it was, as I said, very good on its own but did not stand out like the rest……..Rate it 4/5
After such elaborate starters we moved on to main course. We started with khamiri roti and dum pukth koh e awadh. The descriptions on the menu card were very nice – reproducing them: chef’s recipe of qorma of elegantly exposed lamb shanks, dum cooked in their own cardamom tinged dishes and marrow, finished in saffron.
The gravy of the Qorma was thick but not too thick – aromatic to the core. Every drop of the gravy till the last drop had the aroma. Addition of Marrow and the fact that meat and gravy were cooked together, ensured that the gravy had flavours of good meat too. The gravy was intense, had an element of hot but that was clearly not the focus. There were layers of flavor and the senses wud just b bombarded with flavours. Needless to say, the taste was beyond YUMM.
The meat was falling off the bones without much of forking it. The meat was super soft but not mashed up – the strands of the meat did not fray. The meat pieces cud retain its form , and cud also hold on to its meaty flavours without being bulldozed off by strong flavours of spices.
Mind blowing good dish. We finished the gravy till the last drop. Rate this dish 4.95/5
Khameeri roti was made from atta. Crisp outside , cooked well inside and soft as well. It was very well prepared and complemented the qorma very well. Rate the roti 4.5/5
Post this we ordered a masala chaanch ( buttermilk). Bill mentions this as salted lassi coz in the menu they do not have chaanch. This was made from very good dahi but not in the way it is made in villages (while churning the set curd and extracting butter). The chaanch did its job very well – acted as a brilliant palate cleanser. It was also balancing off the heavy dose of spices.
The chaanch had a salt n sour taste, flavoured with spices. The consistency was not thin but not thick either. Very good quality curd was obvious. Loved the chaanch for its simplicity. Rate it 4.5/5
Then came the food that we were mentally waiting for – dum cooked mutton biryani. The biryani came in a handi in which the dum was given. It was sealed with flour.
As soon as the lid opened, the aroma of an awesome biryani spread in the air.
The rice had different colors – yellow in some patches , white in some others and mildly brownish ( nowhere near brown) in some other zone. The rice was long grain, aromatic, independent strands that were super soft and melt in the mouth. The taste was beyond perfect. Flavours of meat had permeated into the rice as well. There was a mild element of sour as well , I guess from the dahi with which the mutton was marinated. Rate the rice of the biryani 4.75/5
The meat was very soft but I have had softer – in dum biryani in lucknow. I have had juicier biryani meat in Lucknow as well. However what stood out in this meat was that it was not affected by the spices and it managed to fully retain the flavours of the meat. Different from the usual I wud say but very enjoyable. Rate the meat 4.25/5
Overall rating of mutton dum biryani averages out to 4.5/5.
For dessert we had Gulab ki Kheer – Reduced milk delicately cooked on low heat with rose petals, garnished with pistachios & silver leaf. The kheer was daanedaar, appropriately sweet, not too thick, not at all thin. Rose petals made their presence felt in flavouring the sweet dish. Pistachios added to texture. Super loved it. Rate this dish 4.5/5
Overall rating of food at ITC Sonar averages out to 4.6/5
Do I need to still tell u in so many words that I wud look forward to revisiting? Whats hv u been thinking. Look forward to hear from u…..