Shalini Saksena takes you on a journey of Indus Express, where river terrains meet flavors on a plate.
The adage that you eat with your eyes is apt when you visit Indus Express, an Indian cuisine restaurant at Vivanta by Taj, Dwarka. It all begins with the decor. Most foodies go to a place to savour the delights rather then look at how the place has been done up. Well, this one is like a railway coach, hence the name. Reach the end and there is a delight waiting for all those people who love history and antiques.
First, there is a British era map that adorns the wall. As you start reading the places you will find that spellings are old world —Nepaul, Cutch, Jeypoor, Gujerat and Berar. Then there some names with different names like The Great Sandy Desert for Thar Desert and then it dawns that this is how the Britishers pronounced spelt city names.
Second, is the antique wooden toy train on tracks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work but to see the detailing that went into making is mind boggling.
But the idea is to enjoy a meal and delightful it is, both non-vegetarian and vegetarian samplers which are plated beautifully.
Moon-shaped copper thalis lined with katories is something that is new. The server then places a ceramic plate that fits into the arc. “Tradition with a twist to modern times,” Chef Pranshu Kanwal, Chef de Partie, says.
He tells you how it took them eight months of research to finally choose a dozen or so dishes on the thali. “It all began with 80 dishes, which were then narrowed down to 45 and then the final list. Each dish that has found its way into the thali has different ingredients with no use of pre-cooked sauces. Each dish is cooked using different species that have been hand-pounded in-house. This is the only way that one can get the authentic taste of the flavours from the Indus Basin.
The farmers lentil curry is a selection of five dals — soya, moth, black masoor, red rajma and urad. For example: Rajma is from Kashmir, black masoor originates from East and Central Asia, urad dal comes from Khyber, moth is from Punjab and soya is from Tibet and Jammu. The dals are cooked in a fixed quantity and flavoured with mint and garlic without tomatoes giving it that perfect taste that most vegetarians look for but don’t order elsewhere since the only choice is dal tadka and dal makhni.
Another delight is the lal mirch tadka palak. The bright green colour is not only inviting but its texture is pleasant to the tongue. The chef tells you that is because he has used both chopped spinach and its paste.
The colour is retained not because of any artificial colouring but through a trick — by adding a pinch of sugar and never covering the spinach while boiling it.
The Peshawari seekh kebab is succulent and full of mild spices. The lamb is hand-pounded to get a mince. One can really enjoy the flavour of the lamb. The dum murg Lahori with a hint of mint in the gravy is a just as tasty. The big disappointment is nihari gosht. There are many places in Delhi where one can go for this authentic dish.
Vegetarians will enjoy the baigan mizaz which is cooked with aromatic spices and tempered over coal to give it that roasted taste. The good is that no tomatoes are used.
The chef tells you that it is cooked slow to give it a deep rust colour.
No meal, especially Indian is complete without dessert. The chef serves a few choices — gulab chikki, peanut chikki and sesame chikki. The kheer is just as good with just the correct sweetness.
Writer: Shalini Saksena
Source: The Pioneer