#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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Indian Curry @ Tansha Comfort Regency, Vadodara

 A family gathering of around 15 people and an obvious and annoying question, where to go for dinner so that everyone gets some or other thing of their liking?

Long discussion and Indian Curry @ Hotel Tansha Comfort Regency came out as a choice. It was Sunday evening and we called to book a table only to discover that they don’t take bookings. Reaching early helped secure one as the restaurant got fully occupied by 8 PM.

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Our order consisted Hot and Sour and Almond Broccoli soups, Bruschetta, Jalapeno Cheese Nuggets, French Fries, Roasted Papad and Palak Makai Lahori Seekh Kabab to start with. In the main course, we stuck to north Indian and tried Paneer Do Pyaza and Veg Deewani Handi.

Almost everything in food was up to the mark and didn’t disappoint us.

With average service, decent interiors and good food, this surely secures a backup option berth.


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Indian Curry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rooftop Experience Par Excellence – 1 Above, Lower Parel, Mumbai

Indeed a thoughtful name for the newly opened rooftop bar and sheesha lounge. It’s not just the place, the service and food make it one above.

We were invited for a pre-launch event 2 days before the place throws open for public. Lighted walkway enticed to think about how the place would be which left me spellbound once I entered. As they were yet to open, I could easily see a couple of last moment fixes being done. This is rather expected specifically because I was on time for the launch event. The open-air ambiance with music and lights was true to the mood.

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What was not expected was almost flawless service, worthy of appreciation for an yet to open pure vegetarian place. The menu was not disclosed and we were served chef’s selection in food.

Drinks had choices and I started with Whiskey Sour which turned out to be a good mix to start with. Selected my all-time favorite LIIT next. The standard mix of 5 whites and cola combined with cool January breeze on the rooftop made a potent combination.

Kheema Pav

Kheema Pav

Food started rolling with Kheema Pav, a slider bun filled with soya stuffing was the star dish of the day.

Nachos with 4 dips
Nachos with 4 dips

Nachos were served with 4 dips. Crisp and thick, capable enough to put mass marketed verities to shame.

Bruschetta Platter
Bruschetta Platter

The Bruschetta Platter had 3 topping varieties and all were great in taste.

Sushi Platter
Sushi Platter

The well-arranged and photogenic Sushi Platter had 2 varieties, avocado and cream cheese sushi and avocado, tempura and eggplant sushi. I literally couldn’t stop eating while trying them with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger slices.

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The oval shaped thin crust pizza served with capers as sides would have tasted better if served hot. The coldness dampened the flavor which otherwise would have been mouth-watering.

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The last dish was perhaps the least liked. A platter Corn Seekh Kabab, Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Aalo stuffed with chili and mix veg, Brocolli in mustard mayo. Not that it was not flavorful, perhaps the other dishes were better than it.

Visit for an excellent ambiance combined with equally great vegetarian food and good service. Wish they continue doing the same to stay 1 above all.


Village, R-City, Ghatkopar(W), Mumbai

What can be a better place for large family gathering than this one!

You are not confined to table and chair and can roam around, have food like a buffet or just sit and enjoy your food.

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Another benefit is you don’t have to worry about what to order. Options are a plenty and most likely will include one or other thing which is liked by everyone in the group.

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Food included dal-wada, sev-puri, pani-puri, khaman and veg. crispy in starters. In mains there were Dosas, Pav-bhaji, dal-pakavan, various sabji, pipping hot rotis, rotlas, pulav, khichdi to name a few in Indian variant including a couple of Indianised Chinese items like noodles and veg Manchurian gravy .

They also have performances where they try to include guests and eventually ends up with Rajasthani folk dances, Gujarati Garba, Bhangra and DJ numbers.

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Ambiance tries to imitate a typical village like environment. Describing will not be enough so let pictures do its work.

Overall a good place with average to above average food, lots of choices and great for a large group.

Dadimaa No Varso, R-City, Ghatkopar (W), Mumbai

It’s difficult if not impossible to have Gujarati food and still be light on stomach primarily because of the ingredients and uncountable varieties served in a Gujarati Thali. There was always a gap when you want to eat some specific Gujarati dish and not want to go on full Thali. Dadi Ma No Varso fills this gap by a-la-carte Gujarati Food and some of the dishes I always missed being a Gujarati.

We started with Panki and Stuffed Khichiyu Balls.

Panki and Stuffed Khichiyu Balls

Panki and Stuffed Khichiyu Balls

Panki is made by cooking batter between 2 banana leaves.

Click here to see: The Making of Panki

Stuffed Khichiyu Balls are an innovative variant of the popular khichiyu, made with rice flour and more popular as papdi no lot in Gujarat. Commonly eaten with condiments like oil, methi masala(pickle masala) and salt & chili powder. The Stuffed Khichiyu Balls had stuffing of pigeon pea (a.k.a lilva/tuver in Gujarati) and tasted little undercooked.

Special Thali
Special Thali

Overall, the place has good Gujarati food and worth considering as a replacement to a heavy Thali.

Panchvati Gaurav, Phoenix Market City, Kurla, Mumbai

The problem with Gujarati/Rajasthani Thali is, you get spoilt of choices and don’t realize how much you have eaten.

This place is no different!

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Located in Paragon Plaza of Phoenix Market City, this place has a decent and tidy decor with tiny Rajashtani/Gujarati folk figures doting the walls.

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There was only a table occupied when we reached there at around 1 PM. The staff was welcoming and, contrary to the usual habit in Thali serving restaurants, were not in a mad rush to serve and to fill-up. This allowed us to take our time in enjoying the food.

It is difficult if not impossible to mention each item of the Thali so let a picture do the justice. We liked Dal-Baati-Churma and buttermilk the most; not to mention piping hot rotis and aloo subji with gravy, mini rotla and puran-poli with ghee.

Thali
The full bloomed Thali

The place well exhibits the indispensable trait of Thali places of treating people as guests and not customers. Overall, a good place to have value for money Gujarati/Rajasthani food.

Panchavati Gaurav Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rooftop Dining – Mehman Nawazi, Powai, Mumbai

Never thought that a pure veg. Indian restaurant, located at a far end of a business park would be full even on Saturday evening.  We were advised to walk in and we gave our luck a try.

Supreme Business Park, which houses this restaurant is located on a far end corner of Hiranandani Business Park. You can drive up to the building reception where wallet service is available for Mehman Nawazi and its brother Breeze Lounge. In fact, they are located just opposite to each other. Breeze Lounge gets an advantage of stunning views Hiranandani & Powai while the Indian counterpart gets views of broken and cut mountains.

See my review of Breeze Lounge here.

5-7 mins and we were assigned a table in what appeared to be almost full. The roof-top restaurant has minimal lighting with decor suiting the demi-royal theme.

A special mention to the annoying heavy noise of continuous rock cutting which completely kills the ambiance. Another contrast is loud music in the adjoining Breeze Lounge which does not go well with the promised ‘king size lifestyle, princely treatment, royal feel and lavish ambiance’.

 The staff was welcoming and friendly. Quickness in service was a function of items ordered. The starters arrived almost instantly but mains took more than due time.

Peach Ice Tea
Peach Ice Tea
Veg. Galafi Seekh
Veg. Galafi Seekh
Hare Bharre Kabab
Hare Bharre Kabab

We started with Peach Iced Tea (Rs 275++), Veg. Galafi Seekh (Rs. 315++), a tandoor preparation of mix vegetables, paneer and Indian spices, Hare Bharre Kabab (Rs 315++), a stuffed kabab preparation of green peas, spinach and cheese. In the mains, we had Mehman Mix Veg Special (Rs. 395++), a very balanced mix of vegetables and paneer in lightly flavored gravy. with Tandoori Roti. With none of the items disappointing us, the food is sumptuous for sure qualifying the restaurant for repeated visits.

Paan Shots
Paan Shots

The Paan shot at the end complemented the food very well.

If only one thing for which I would not like to visit again is the annoying ambient noise and parallelly, one thing for which I would like to do the opposite is the food.

Mehman Nawazi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato