Friday, March 6, 2015

worlDCrave: Dum Pukht, New Delhi

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FooDCcrave will be taking a bit of an international twist for the next 6 weeks. For the first several days, Liz and I will both be abroad. She's traveling in Istanbul with her main squeeze and I'm on a southeast Asian vacation with my BFF, Jackie. After our vacation ends, I'll be working in Bangalore for four weeks.

Jackie and I departed the U.S.on Wednesday morning at 6:30 am. We arrived to our hotel in New Delhi at 5 pm local time on Thursday. After over 24 hours of traveling, we weren't really up for exploring the city and opted to dine at one of our hotel's amazing restaurants. 

We stayed at the ITC Maurya. NBD but this is the same hotel President Obama stayed at when he visited India in January. When he stayed there, the hotel was entirely shut down. We didn't receive the same treatment, but it was still a great experience! The most famous restaurant in our hotel is Bukhara but we opted to dine instead at Dum Pukht. 

The restaurant was a great (high end) way to transition into Indian cuisine. We didn't mind shelling out the extra bucks to make sure we had a safe and delicious meal. From the moment we arrived, the staff was very attentive and took the time to help us select a great shared meal. 

We started with the Murgh Tandi Tikka. This dish was my favorite of the entire meal. A traditional kabob style chicken, it was marinated in cumin, grilled and served with a flavorful tikka, or buttery sauce. It was topped with silver leaf, which we were told helps with digestion.  

Next, we sampled the yellow lentils, or Dal Dum Pukht. The lentils were seasoned with yellow chiles and a yogurt sauce. They were very saucy and the lentils had almost a purred appearance. We both loved this dish, especially when topped with the mint sauce accompaniment we were provided with. 

Along with the lentils, we had another chicken dish called Murgh Rizala. This was my least favorite dish of the meal. The flavors were decent, but nowhere near as decadent as the kabob.  Also, I think it was a different cut of the chicken, perhaps darker meat, which I don't love. The sauce was supposed to be almond and yogurt based, but neither of those flavors came through to me. It wasn't a bad dish, just not as exciting the others. 

The last course we ordered was the lamb biryani. Let me preface this by saying I do not like lamb. But, wow. This dish was simply amazing. I am a biryani lover, and have been fortunate enough to sample a co-workers mom's Pakistani goat biryani on numerous occasions. So, I was excited to see how they compared. The dishes were quite similar, although the Pakistani version is somewhat more spicy and herb-flavored. The Indian biryani was cooked in a ceramic pot that was sealed off with what looked like dough. It cooked over a low fire for 25 minutes before being served along with a yogurt sauce. The lamb was outstanding. Truly like no other lamb I've ever tasted before, it fell off the bone and melted in your mouth. 
After all these courses we were stuffed beyond belief. Numerous waiters kept asking us if we wanted dessert, to which we respectfully decline. Well, I am thinking that maybe in India when you are offered dessert, you don't refuse. Because soon enough, we were presented with julienned rose petals in a spiced condensed milk. It was delicious. Aromatic, delicate, and sweet. 
Last, we were offered beetle leaves that were filled with spices to help with digestion. We were a bit confused when we were told not to swallow them, but rather put the whole thing in your mouth, chew it for a while, and spit it out. We took cautious bites, but weren't in love. They tasted like, well, leaves filled with fennel. 

Overall, this meal was a great way to kick off our 4 days in India. It was pricy, at around $75 per person including tip, but well worth it in my opinion. The staff were incredibly attentive and helpful, but were very confused about why I wanted to photograph all the food. Not sure they are as familiar with food bloggers as restaurants in the States are!
See you from Jaipur!

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