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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Slow cooked chickpea preparation flavored with whole Indian spices tempered with dried pomegranate seeds, smoked with desi ghee.
Overnight soaked black lentil, rajma, tempered with cumin, fresh garlic finished with white butter.
Long grain rice muddled with Himalayan morels flavored with whole spices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
P.S. We were invited by JW Marriott, Pune to for #RoyalIndianExperience @ Shakahari.
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