Celebrating a landmark

A signature dish at Dum Pukht

A signature dish at Dum Pukht   | Photo Credit: 10dmc rahul3

In its 25th year, ITC Maurya’s Dum Pukht restaurant continues to draw food lovers

The occasions have always been special. The last time I was there was for a 50th anniversary; this time it was for a silver jubilee. The 50th marked the birthday of two dear friends; this time it was the birthday of the venue itself.

I am talking about Dum Pukht, the celebrated restaurant at ITC Maurya. The restaurant serves North Indian food, mostly from the erstwhile royal region of Awadh. Some of its signatory dishes are cooked on steam –– hence the name, Dum Pukht – and in clay pots. I like dum-cooked food, and have always enjoyed my evenings at the well-lit restaurant, glittering with chandeliers. To top it, the seats are most comfortable, and I find that these days I enjoy food more if I am seated comfortably.

I took a cushy seat, happy to be a part of the restaurant’s 25th year celebration. I like most of Maurya’s restaurants (barring one, but let’s not go there now) –– but the two that I like the most are West View and Dum Pukht. The latter has been ably run by the Qureshi family of master chefs. I have met Ustad Imtiaz Qureshi, whose skills made the restaurant a success. And earlier this week I was happy to meet his son-in-law, Gulam M. Qureshi, brand custodian – Dumpukht food and senior master chef.

I didn’t have to go through the thick menu. A group of experts – led by chef Gulam – decided the meal for us. And it was going to be a feast ––with fish, lamb, prawns and so on. Anything vegetarian, they asked me. Perish the thought, I replied.

Chef Gulam urged me to try out the nihari at the restaurant. I mentioned the proliferation of big and small eateries, all offering nihari. “Just try ours,” he smiled. And he had reason to smile, for the nihari was excellent –– the lamb had been cooked to perfection, the spices were just right, and the gravy was simply superb –– aromatic, tasty and neither thick, nor thin.

We started the meal with kakori kababs, jhinga dum nisha (prawns marinated in cheese and hung curd, cooked in a tandoor and then steamed) and mahi dariya (river sole marinated with green chillies, cloves and cinnamon, dipped in a butter milk batter and flavoured with shah zeera).

The kakori, as always, was wonderful, truly soft and bursting with the flavours of cloves and cinnamon. The prawns, as you would expect, were juicy and creamy. The fish, however, didn’t excite me much.

The main dishes came –– nihari, nalli gosht and biryani. These days, I find that nalli gosht is often passed off as nihari, I said to the chef. There is a difference, he replied. Nihari is cooked over long hours with a special potli masala (which he conveniently didn’t explain. These chefs and their secrets!). The gravy is cooked with raw onions and thickened with roasted besan. The gravy for nalli gosht, on the other, is browned and thickened with fried onions.

I think of all the dishes, I liked the Dumpukht biryani the most. It was wonderfully light, yet redolent with all the flavours of spices and succulent lamb. It was beautiful to look at, and had a taste that lingered.

We ended the evening with a plate of shahi tukra, saffron-tinged rabri on bread soaked in syrup. Sinful, but so very delicious!

Prices, as you would expect, are steep. I didn’t pay, of course, but just to give you an idea, the biryani costs Rs.1550, not including taxes.

Dum Pukht, for me, is now a venue for celebration. And how does one mark a landmark year, but with a delightful meal?

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 1:07:34 AM |

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