The Back Story –
While serving the intensely thick Shorba or soup made with loads of nut paste and chicken broth, Chef Nadeem Qureshi smiled. I was delighted looking at the creamy soup whose thickness and aroma was invigorating.
The Chef quipped, “well its no surprise as Awadhi royal cooking is all about flavours and how you finely balance the spices. I am just following the authentic tenets and adding my own creative elements to cater to an exclusive category of diners, who believe in fine, luxuriant food”.
We sit down over the newly launched lavish menu at the luxury Indian restaurant Soma of Grand Hyatt, Mumbai while engaging in a free flowing conversation with Chef Nadeem Qureshi, the creator of the refreshingly distinct and authentic menu.
Before I got into the divine act of savouring the platter, knowing where`s Nadeem`s touch of personal signature comes from was important.
Who does not know of the infinite kebabs and biriyanis that adorn the Awadhi royal food fare but what is fairly unknown is the beauty of the flavours used in the cooking of Awadh and the large range of spices associated. The other interesting quirk is the unique combination of vegetables and meat, in common parlance not easy to imagine.
The Chef quipped, “My grandmother used to combine simple vegetables with meat and they used to transform into the most exotic dishes. Moong Dal (split peas ) and mutton or bottle gourd and mutton. The flavour of each dish was distinct and tasted unparallel. Then there would be a Baghar Ka Chawal ( a rice dish) a fairly close cousin of pulao. At the household level too cooking was about spending much patient hours and the main fuel had to be invariably charcoal fire and nothing else. Here at Soma, I have reintroduced many of these culinary techniques, tracing from generations of authentic royal cooking of Lucknow.”
The Chef disappeared as I started my gastronomic indulgence, cherishing the select menu served at Soma.
The luxuriant food fare had loads to savour with varied dishes like:
Anari Jhinga ( lobster with pomegranate), Raan-e- Sikandari ( an authentic lamb
Ammi Ke Kache Gosht Ki Galawati ( Mum`s lamb kebabs)
Kale Jamun Ka Murgh Tikka ( Chicken Tikka in Black Plum)
Assorted Non-Vegetarian Kebabs
Creamy Dal Makhani ( Pulses in thick gravy)
Lobster Malai ( Lobster in coconut cream)
Mithai ka Dabba – The Dessert platter
The sprawling restaurant oozed aroma`s wafting through the air, drawing me to the food served.
Here`s the three top dishes that I would recommend for the indulgent connoisseur in you.
Lobster Malai ( Lobster in coconut cream) – An extremely tender lobster dish, this is meant for slow savouring. Cooked in the freshly extracted coconut cream sauce, the traditional one does not use curry leaves. But as the chef had mentioned, signatures only get created with innovation. Thus the curry leaves were the new add on, creating a very mild aroma, familiar to the luxury diner of the city, an instant connect with the coastal taste.
Kale Jamun Ke Murg Tikke – ( Chicken tikka in black plum)
Who can even think of plum being a key ingredient to a poultry dish, the Kale Jamun Ke Murg Tikke of Soma is a delectable twist in form of lip smacking dish.
Carefully crushed on a hand mortar, the tangy taste of plum is then combined with spices and murg or chicken transforming it into a dishes that is enticing and addictive least to say.
Mithai ka Dabba – The Dessert platter
Served in a decorative wooden chambered box, Mithai Ka Dabba translated literally the dessert box is a world in itself. Along with the popular ones, finds place the more exotic sweet dish like Thande Gulab Kheer or The Frozen Rose flavoured Rice Petal Pudding or Malai Makkan – the Sweet Buttery Cream.
Interestingly roses had always been used as an edible ingredient in the royal cooking and this delicious exotic sweet dish is cooked in milk and rosewater combine, before finally being topped with edible dried rose petals.
My lunch left me satisfied, not because the food was heavenly but because the food fare was a magical journey into taste and aroma.
Grand Hyatt Hotel and Residencies
Bandra Kurla Complex Vicinity,
Off Western Express Highway,
Santacruz East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400055
Phone: 022 6676 1234