Dum Pukht

Walking into Asia’s 15th best restaurant is like walking onto the set of a regal old hindi film. Dum Pukht is all pristine white marble walls with intricate carving, hushed whispers, food served on beautiful silver, and water in customized intricately carved glasses.

So much thought has gone into creating this place and it shows in the Menu which serves as a fabulous guide into Indian cuisine. Bits of trivia and the legends behind the food are engraved on every page of the menu. Each section is a story in itself. What distinguishes Dum Pukht is its service, the staff is intelligent, attentive and importantly,  not obtrusive.

For a table of two we ordered some Shorba, Chicken kabab, Habibia chop and the signature Dum Pukht Biryani.  The Shorba, a light and flavorful soup, left us with a penetrating feeling of warmth and happiness. The habibia was succulent, juicy and so well marinated that the spices had penetrated all the way through the meat. The chicken kebabs were tender, spicy,with a fun mix of tomato & capsicum and a nice garlic edge to the flavor. The kebabs came with a soft, lightly sweet, delicious flatbread called sheermal, a thoughtful and fabulous accompaniment.

And then came the signature dish – the Dum Pukht Biryani. The Biryani comes in a handi which has been sealed with a wheat flour roti and when the lid is lifted, the aromas that waft over you are incredible. Saffron, kewda, perfectly cooked long grained rice, with every morsel and every small, succulent piece of meat absolutely singing with flavor. Absolutely delicious! The biryani is served with Burhani which is whisked curd flavored with garlic. Burhani in Urdu means sharp and is usually used to describe the sharp edge of a sword. And this dip is so aptly called Burhani, as soon as you taste it you can feel the sharpness of garlic exploding on your taste buds. Delicious and poetic.

With an array of dessert from Phirni to Rabri to Gulab Jamun, it is a hard task to pick just one. But because somebody had to, we selected the Shahi Tukda. This simple dessert, which roughly translates to Royal Morsel, can be one of the toughest to get right because it uses simple regular ingredients, which makes it essential that the flavors and textures are right, from the right level of sweetness to the softness of the bread. And this shahi tudka lives up to it names. The bread in the center was a moist morsel of heaven. A sprinkling of pistachio slivers and a rich, creamy, rabri on top . Moist and melt in your mouth.

Eating at one of Asia’s top 15 restaurants does come at a price. A meal for two without alcohol cost us Rs. 7500

Trivia (courtesy Dum Pukht menu): During the reign of  Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah there was a major famine in Lucknow. The Nawab ordered that a full, wholesome meal should be cooked for all his workers every day and to make this task simpler for the huge quantities required, the royal cooks put meat, rice, vegetables and spices together in a large handi, sealed shut to cook slowly for hours. At some point, a handi was cracked open as the Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah was passing. The aroma so entranced him that that he announced that this dish would become a part of the royal kitchen. Of course it was made more luxurious with more exotic spices and more, better meat added to it so the dish could be fit for the royal palate. And that is how the Biryani came to be.

Dum is the process of cooking meat or vegetable in its own juices for a really long time by sealing in the steam.

Dum Pukht, ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton  Sahar Airport Road, Sahar, Andheri East, MH 400099, India. Phone: +91 22 28303030

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