Cuisine: North Indian
Blurb: Really royal nawabi gosht stew in this five star restaurant that also serves banta soda and chuskies as a palate cleanser
Intro: Expect surprises in the restaurant that is located in Delhi 110032 (hence the name 32) in sprawling settings.
Atmospherics: Like all the restaurants in this spacious hotel, this one too is on the 3rd floor. It is lined with glass jars filled with three kinds of red chillies and canisters filled with mustard oil. In deference to the guest profile of the hotel (who come here for conferences), Dilli 32 is open only for dinner. Staff is well-informed and of the old-fashioned sort – courteous and eager to please. Going the extra mile seems to be the corporate philosophy: the 180 ml bottles of banta soda have been specially made for the hotel with purified water that the hotel’s own laboratory checks periodically. Served with a choice of salt flavoured three different ways, it is a trip down memory lane for people like us who are concerned about enjoying it on the streets.
Table talk: Palak ki asharfian (Rs 650) is a pan fried kebab that has been conceptualized in-house. Spinach, betel leaf, khoya, pinenuts and minced apricots have been combined to give a panoply of flavours with every bite. Nukte kebab (Rs 900) is a typically Lucknavi dish that is finished on a tawa and that features bite-sized bits of lamb that actually melt in your mouth. It takes an experienced hand to know how much to season the meat so that its inherent flavour dominates: this was the finest rendition I’ve had, by a wide margin.
Dilli 32 leans towards pleasing vegetarians: our shakahari kheechra (Rs 900) even had the glutinous texture that comes with long hours of slow cooking and painstaking stirring, but it was completely vegetarian. There was no meat version. The other dish that goes out to every table is dal Dilli 32 (Rs 600) that was elegant rather than robust.
The real gems on the menu are the Lucknow and Rampur qormas and stews: a milk-based Rampuri stew (Rs 1000), a whisper light nehari gosht (Rs 1000) that had the faintest trace of the trademark sticky consistency and the signature potli masala in the background. Even the murgh makhni (Rs 1000) seems more to do with Lucknow than Punjab in its avatar here! Elegant and refined, it nevertheless has the characteristic flavours.
Must try: sheermal, dum gosht ki biryani, khattay baingan
Ratings: Food 3.50 Service 3.50 Décor 3.50
Kempinski Ambience Hotel, 1, Central Business District, Shahdara, Tel: 49088888
Open from 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm, Credit cards, alcohol, Meal for two: Rs 5,000