#RoyalIndianExperience @ Shakahari, JW Marriott, Pune

Ever wondered how a royal dining would have been and what royals used to eat? I always did and it took me a trip to JW Marriott, Pune to understand that royal dining is less about royal food and more about a royal experience. As far as food it concerned, it is the authenticity that makes it royal.

A royal dining experience with authentic food is what makes Shakahari, a pure vegetarian restaurant at JW Marriott, Pune, distinct from others. Formerly known for its delicious Pan Asian veg. cuisine, Shakahari now showcases an entirely new theme of #RoyalIndianExperience, presenting a lavish menu based on authentic Indian cuisines inspired from regions of India with the royal monarchy.

Our trip to Pune started with light showers in Mumbai. While the atmosphere in Mumbai started becoming cooler, we received a warm welcome upon reaching JW Marriott, Pune. We were greeted with Kokum Sherbet to cool off after a tiring journey.

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After a quick introduction session with some of the key staff, we were ushered to the lunch table. The table was so meticulously arranged, we were reluctant to touch anything and make it unordered. Everything from the silverware, thali and cutlery, chutney and pickle container to the serviette and the ring had a royal touch.

Shakahari (PC: JW Marriott)
Shakahari (PC: JW Marriott)

We got started with a pour of Fratelli wines, a basket of papad/papdi, freshly cut salad, pickles and varieties of chutney like mint, peanut and plum which perfectly complemented the food.

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In starters, we had Dahi Wada, Palak Patta Chaat, Rajma Lasooni Salad, Palak Chawli Tikki, Beetroot Tikki, Besan Chilli and Amritsari Paneer. It will be almost impossible to describe the burst of flavors the dishes had so I will rather stick to what I liked the most. From starters, I liked Palak Patta Chaat and Rajma Lasooni Salad the most. The Palak Patta Chaat gave a typical crunchy chaat like experience and the Rajma Lasooni Salad had a hint of burnt garlic flavor in it which won many hearts.

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At Shakahari, the menu is continuously evolving and the restaurant follows the concept of dual cuisines. On the day we visited, the menu comprised Rajasthani and North Indian cuisines.

The Rajasthani main course included:

Ker Sanger ke Kofta
Rajasthani Ker, bamnera beans dumplings cooked in fresh tomato gravy.

Jodhpuri Gatta Curry
Steamed gram flour dumpling, cooked in spicy tangy hung yogurt gravy.

Subz Panchmel
Mélange of selected vegetables tossed in dry spices flavored with asafoetida.

Dal Bati Churma
Rajasthan special-lentil preparation and baked wheat flour dough served with ghee and jaggery.

Gatta ka Pulao
Spiced Gram flour dumpling cooked on dum with basmati rice.

Assorted Breads
Multigrain Phulka, Palak Poori, Ajwaini Poori.

I was trying Ker Sanger ke Kofta and Jodhpuri Gatta Curry for the first time and liked them both but it was Dal Bati Churma that I liked the most. perhaps one of the best I have had outside Rajasthan.

The North Indian main course included:

Dum Paneer Kasoori
Homemade cottage cheese simmered in rich tomato gravy, delicately flavored with fenugreek seeds.

Subz Makhmali Kofta
Vegetable kofta filled with dried plums, almonds simmered in a cardamom cashew gravy.

Pindi Chooley
Slow cooked chickpea preparation flavored with whole Indian spices tempered with dried pomegranate seeds, smoked with desi ghee.

Dal Shakahari
Overnight soaked black lentil, rajma, tempered with cumin, fresh garlic finished with white butter.

Gucchi Pulao
Long grain rice muddled with Himalayan morels flavored with whole spices.

Breads
Stuffed kulcha, Roti, Naan, Laccha Paratha.

Here, the spicy Pindi Chholey and Dal Shakahari along with Laccha Paratha is something I would recommend as ‘not-to-be-missed’.

No royal Indian meal is complete without desserts and Shakahari takes this to the next level. Shakahari provides a glimpse of what the Indian royal families would traditionally indulge in by having a ‘Mishtaan Bhandar’, a room full of sweets and desserts instead of a standard, run-of-a-mill dessert counter. Shakahari walks the talk by offering traditional Indian sweets instead of desserts and verities of Rajashthani Kulfi with a host of toppings instead of ice-creams.

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The dessert spread included Mango Rabadi, Malai Kulfi, Kesar Pista Kulfi, Moong Dal Halwa, Gulab Jamun, Lychee Gulla, Kaju Pista Roll, Moti Chor Ladoo, Kadambari, Badambhog and Ghewar.

Maharaj Jai Kishen
Maharaj Jai Kishen (PC: JW Marriott)

We also got an opportunity to interact with Maharaj Jai Kishen who carries over 4 decades of experience in the kitchen and is the energy behind crafting the new royal avatar of Shakahari.

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Chef’s Table in a private area

 

While we traveled from just Mumbai to Pune, Shakahari indeed embarked us on a much longer royal culinary journey by the overwhelming hospitality and authentic Indian cuisines inspired from princely provinces.

Shakahari - JW Marriott Pune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

P.S. We were invited by JW Marriott, Pune to for #RoyalIndianExperience @ Shakahari.


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Set Lunch @ Neel, Powai, Mumbai

Neel literally means indigo in English. While it’s English named twin serves Continental, Neel caters Indian cuisine.

This twin restaurant shares kitchen and is separated by a partition. Guests can sit on either of the section and can order food from either of the menus.

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When we visited for lunch on Friday afternoon, they assisted us to sit at Indigo Deli and order food from Neel menu as there was not enough quorum to make the section operational. Neel is about half the size of Indigo Deli and has similar spacious table arrangement with airy and well-lit ambiance. The decor is minimalistic yet wears a classy look.

Influenced by others experiences of a long time taken for a la carte, we decided to go for the set menu.

Tamatar Ka Rasam
Tamatar Ka Rasam

The South Indian style Tamatar Ka Rasam was the only choice in soup. Unlike the usual Rasam, the soup was so spicy that none of us could complete it.

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In starters, Hare Matar Ki Shami was the usual green peas patty. Malabari Paneer as the name suggests was cottage cheese prepared in Malabari spices. Bhavnagari Mirch ka Aloo were spicy baby potatoes in Bhavnagari chili. The humble potatoes cooked with right spices were liked by almost all.

In veg. mains, there were 3 dishes. Paneer Khatta Pyaaz, Uttari Lahsooni Saag and Dum Aloo Ka Khumb. Although good in taste, the Paneer Khatta Pyaz, made with paneer in sour onion and tomato gravy had no distinct flavor while the rest two carried it well. Uttari Lahsooni Saag was made from green leafy vegetables with chili and garlic. Usually, I don’t like green leafy vegetables but this one made a mark. Dum Allo Ka Kumbh, too was satisfactory in taste. The Lahsooni Dal Tadka and Green Peas Pulao was a perfect combination. The little dominant taste of burnt garlic in the Dal Tadka enhanced the taste greatly.

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The meal ended with Pineapple Ka Sheera and Mango Ice Cream. While Pineapple Ka Sheera was good, it was the Mango Ice Cream which left a lingering taste in the mouth.

Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 4/5
VFM: 4/5 (Rs. 600/- all inclusive, per person, for the set menu)

Overall: 4/5

Neel Indian Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Tex-Mex at its best – Chili’s, Inorbit, Vashi

When it come to Text-Mex food, one name  will never let you down. We frequent Chili’s, Powai as it is near our office but it has been a while since I last visited them. This time, my visit to Inorbit, Vashi brought that opportunity.

We started with Honey Melon Margarita and Tropical Sunrise. This refreshing drink had a dominating taste of honeymelon syrup, a type of muskmelon with a base of lime juice. Try only if you like muskmelon or want to have a musk melon flavored drink. Tropical Sunrise was a great concoction of pineapple and orange.

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Homestyle Fries was an instant order for my 3-year-old.

Triple Dipper
Triple Dipper

We settled with Tripple Dipper and selected Chipotle Quesadilla Bites, Texas Cheese Poppers and Southwestern Rolls. These were served with different 3 dips, Avacado Rand Dressing, Chipotle Sour Cream and Chipotle Ranch Dressing. Triple Dipper is, in fact, a combination of their appetizers. Preferred over sticking to just one dish.

Molten Chocolate Cake
Molten Chocolate Cake

Molten Chocolate Cake was a pre-decided dessert as it had been a while we got a chance to indulge on that. We were having it after almost a gap of a few years and it was a sheer pleasure to have that same great taste, consistent from almost last 8+ years. This puts all run of the mill molten or choco lava cakes to shame.

The server was friendly and helpful but attentiveness left us a little low. We didn’t bother much as we were in no hurry. Yes, I would have appreciated more had it been more attentive.

Ambiance: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Food: 4/5
VFM: 4/5 (approx Rs. 2000/- all inclusive for two without alcohol)

Overall: 4/5

Must Try: Tripple Dipper, Molten Chocolate Cake

Chili's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Cheese bases to match your mood – Ovenstory, Bhandup (W), Mumbai

Pizza has always been a comfort food as it is just a phone call away. Ovenstory, a delivery only kitchen, with 17 outlets across Mumbai and suburbs adds to this.

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Overstory has 4 different pizza ranges based on types of cheese used. Chipotle, Peri-Peri, 4 Pepper and El-Classico.

IMG_20170517_210533497~2I got an opportunity to try out Chipotle Veggie Dream from their Chipotle range along with Cheese Garlic Bread and Sicilian Red Velvet Cake.

The Cheese Garlic Bread lacked consistency in size and in cooking. The taste didn’t disappoint but not something they can boast about.

The Chipotle Veggie Dream pizza had a thin crust and Chipotle Cheese topping along with the regular Mozzarella cheese. The Chipotle Cheese is flavored with dried, smoked and crushed jalapenos. In the veggies, onions, olives, jalapenos and corn, complemented the overall taste.

The Sicilian Red Velvet cake too was satisfactory in taste. The ‘Red-ness’ may be attributed to beetroot but the good is, it didn’t dominate the taste.

As far as pizzas are concerned, I would love to try their other cheese base varieties and would prefer Ovenstory over the so-called ‘Pizza Delivery Expert’ and yes, they too are just a phone call away.

Ovenstory Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

P.S.: The delivery was on the house to try out their menu.


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Bottoms Up, Andheri (W), Mumbai

Bottom’s Up is the latest addition to one of Mumbai’s great neighborhood famous for great restaurants, pubs, micro-breweries and nightlife.

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Bottoms-up is a tiny place carved out if Punjab Grill. The industrial-themed interior is minimalistic and ambiance is dimly lit, a typical of a night-life-spot.

Their cocktail collection has Mumbai inspired names and flavors, like Nariman Point, Sandra From Bandra, Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, Beedu etc.

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Gateway of India
Gateway of India

I tried Gateway of India, a vodka based drink with mint and cucumber was good to cut down the heat. Marine Drive is typical LIIT with cola replaced by beer. Try if you feel a little adventurous.

Nariman Point
Nariman Point

Nariman Point brings the spiciness of jalapeno and Chaat Masala with the base of vodka and orange.

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The food menu is concentrated to appetizers and finger food. We got to try Kachhi Mirch Ka Paneer, Makhan Masala Garlic Corn, Smoky Achari Mushroom, Chana Jor Garam and assorted chaats that perfectly complemented the drinks.

To sum up, a worthy place for weekend evenings but space can be a limiting factor.

Bottom's Up Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

P.S. – I was invited by FBAI and Bottom’s Up on their launch party.


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SodaBottleOpenerwala, Powai, Mumbai

Finally, Powai too gets its own bit of Irani Cafe legacy, albeit in a new avatar, with SBOWs 3rd outlet opening up replacing Pizza Hut, the auto rickshaw navigation landmark to enter Hiranandani.

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The interior largely resembles the BKC outlet and carry the charm of old world Irani cafes, chaotic, lively and elegant. It was almost 11 PM on Thursday late evening when we reached and people were still pouring in.

My friend wanted to try a something called ‘Bava Ji Ka Thullu’ but we got informed that it is available at BKC outlet and not at Powai. So he settled with Mumma Nu Double Dose and got served The Bumsuckerwala without even asking us as the base for Mumma Nu Double Dose was not available.

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The Bumsuckerwala
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Bunmaska
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Cheese Chili Pav
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Mushroom Cheese Khari
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Bharuchi Paneer Akuri
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Navsari Hot Sauce

In food, we started with Bunmaska and Chilli Cheese Pav and Cheese Mushroom Khari. Try the Navsari Hot Sauce if you feel adventurous. Not as hot as Tabasco but the initial sweetness is deceiving. In mains, we tried Bharuchi Paneer Akuri, a Parsi style Paneer Bhurji. Smooth and melt in the mouth Paneer with the right mix of spices makes this a must try for vegetarians.

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Lagan Nu Custard
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Parsi Dairy Kulfi
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Mawa Cake

Lagan Nu Custard was a pre-decided as I had never tried that. This baked dish will not disappoint if you like custard. The same goes with Parsi Dairy Kulfi. The Mawa Cake always sneaks-in the desserts order. Can’t avoid it!

I would appreciate if they improve a little on the service. Food never disappoints.

My experience of SBOW, BKC: Irani Cafe v2.0 – SodaBottleOpenerWala, BKC, Mumbai

SodaBottleOpenerWala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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