Royal Repast - secrets of a Nawab's kitchen at J. Hind



There was an encounter that night. The flash of metal (spoons), blowtorches shot out flames and there was smoke - err - mist everywhere. Casualties? Of course, most folk would have gained a little weight by the time it was all over.

The encounter, of course, was of a culinary kind.

Nawabzada Asif Ali, Dewan to the Nawab of Arcot

Amir Mahal is the home of the Nawab of Arcot. The palace is about 150 years old and at its heart, as with any home, is the kitchen. Generations of cooks have worked in the kitchens of Amir Mahal, following time-honoured recipes and methods of cooking and over the years, fine-tuned many of them and even created several of their own.
Jugalbandi Hindusthani, J.Hind for short, the avant-guard restaurant at Grand by GRT Hotels has chefs who apply modern cooking methods like sous-vide and spherification to the food they cook. These two worlds met head-on recently when chefs from the hotel went to the palace kitchens to learn the secrets of Arcot cuisine.

Colourful & quirky interiors of J.Hind. Many of the pieces are restored antiques 

During their time at the palace, the chefs learnt treasured recipes and culinary techniques that kept the nawabs contented. When they came back to the hotel kitchens, they didn't just do a copy-paste job. Instead, home-style recipes were given a molecular twist and that was how we got to experience Royal Repast, a culinary jugalbandi of heritage recipes cooked with some molecular gastronomy.


We were invited to preview the 12-course degustation menu that was quite the talking point throughout the meal.

Subza rose milk; apricot and nut spheres

I just love anything rose-flavoured and the subza (basil seed) rose milk was perfect in terms of taste and temperature. The amuse-bouche - dry nut and apricot spheres were perfectly formed and tasted nice.

Narial doodh ka shorba

Time for soup and we had little muslin bags in our cups. The soup, a tender coconut broth was poured over, releasing the flavours of roasted garlic, ginger and cumin from the bag. Did I say it was flavoursome? Delicious? Comforting? Mellow, light and coconutty? All that and then some more. The chaat trolley trundled up and we got to watch the creation of focaccia shermal with a little nitrogen fix. Quite an unlikely combination but it was one that worked. Nothing like a tangy spicy chaat to whet the appetite.

Saffron-infused subzi galouti

Smoked tikkas

Rangoli lal machhi tawa masala

Nawabi gosht

Flaming fish tikkas, super-tender chicken tikkas finished with a lick of flames from a blow torch were all very interesting till the anda jhinga tamatar was placed in front of us. What a combination of hard boiled egg with a jumbo prawn; the sauce was absolutely yummy. A stack of Indian breads - wheat, sundried tomato and ulta tawa parathas were served to mop up delicious gravies.

Anda jingha tamatar

Indian breads

Arcot gosht biryani

The one dish that we all awaited, Arcot gosht biryani was presented in a glass jar - nice touch of whimsy there! The mildly spiced, smoked, aromatic rice was a pale yellow and cooked to long grained perfection. Each grain was separate and flavoured with the lamb juices it was cooked in. Definitely worth the wait.

Nawabi paan shots; jackfruit icecream; gulabi kesar; badam peach halwa

Of the desserts, the soft and creamy jackfruit ice cream stirred in with some liquid nitrogen stole the show. As a finishing touch, ruby red frozen rose petals were sprinkled over. And that paan shooter, it's yummy.

Royal Repast, the Nawabi degustation menu at J.Hind, will be served for lunch and dinner till the end of July 2017. It is priced at 1450/++ per head (vegetarian)  and 1650/++ (non-vegetarian).


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