Delhi - Fine Dining at Dum Pukht, ITC Maurya
Choice of dinner venue was a toss-up between sister restaurants, Bukhara or Dum Pukht at the ITC Maurya yesterday evening.
Bukhara was oft-quoted to be the "best Indian restaurant" either in the region, or else the world" by guides such as the Restaurant magazine (UK) and Singapore-based Miele Guide. But getting a booking at the Bukhara can be a royal pain: no reservations but first-come-first served basis after 8pm. No such problems at Dum Pukht, which is flashier and much posher (they make you *pay* for that, mind you). Whilst Bukhara tries to recreate some rustic Rajasthani dining environment, making you sit on cushioned stools and eat with your hands from low tables, almost shoulder-to-shoulder with customers from your neighboring tables, Dum Pukht was all opulence: expensive silver cutlery, crystal ware and white-gloved service.
Our dinner at Dum Pukht consisted of:
- The legendary Kakkori kebab, so fine and pate-like, and which went perfectly with the delicate, sweet shermeel pancakes, and a very savoury curried prawn that was bursting with flavors.
- Next up were stuffed little jewel-like potatoes, filled with chopped nuts and dried fruits, and blanketed in a thick, spicy sauce; and curried paneer cheese.
- Dum Pukht's lamb briyani was stupendous, moist and perfumed with the subtly spiced lamb - it was easily the best briyani I'd ever had, it was like eating tiny petals of fragrant, delicious flowers.
- Dum Pukht's yellow lentil dhal fry was every bit as buttery-rich as the famous black lentil Dhal Makhani from Bukhara. Lesser-known, we didn't ask if the dhal fry here was boiled for 18 hours or overnight, the way Bukharadid its famous black dhal.
- This, I *must* mention: Dum Pukht's butter naan - absolutely, outrageously the *best* one can ever have - pillowy-soft, yielding, no superlative can describe their rendtion - one simply *must* come here to taste it to believe it.
Much has been said about the legendary Master Chef, Imtiaz Qureshi, who, perhaps, single-handedly built Dum Pukht's reputation to what it is today. His son-in-law, Gulam Qureshi, now runs the kitchens with an expert hand which reflected every bit the Qureshi family's skill of perfecting the art of North Indian cooking.
I was never a *big* fan of Indian desserts which I found to be overly sweet. Sorry to say, the ones I tried at Dum Pukht did nothing to change my opinion:
- Shahi Thukra: the North Indian take on bread pudding, except that you inject your bread with syrup from a thousand bushels of sugarcane. Incredibly, the version here which costs INR475++ (around USD9) actually tasted the same (even the textures) as the famous version I had at the Jama Masjid (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892813) which costed a paltry INR25 (less than US 50 cents). But I guess you pay for white-gloved service by haughty waiters, as compared to standing in a crowded alleyway surrounded by people who stepped out from the pages of National Geographic.
- Gulab Ki Kheer: a super-rich, hyper-sweet milk dessert, served garnished with rose petals.
No, I'll pass on the desserts next time.
ITC Maurya Hotel
Diplomatic Enclave, Sardar Patel Marg
New Delhi 110021
Phone:+91 11 2611 2233
We really enjoyed Dum Pukht during this trip to Delhi. We actually wanted to try Bukhara but were hungry after a ridiculous 90 minutes wait, so we decided to come here instead.
No regrets here, terrific service, very nice ambience. The galawti kebab was delicious and the breads, as klyeoh mentioned, were top-notch. Almost as good an experience as our Taj Mahal excursion last weekend.