The quest for good food is never easy. There are trials and tribulations and the search for fine cuisine is always a daunting task as most places claim to serve greatness but what they serve up is usually lackluster and mediocre at best. The recent dinner had me in raptures by the end of the meal but the road to get to that meal sadly was lined with traffic and lashing rain. I live in the more southern part of Mumbai, a great metropolis where are the best of times, you’re stuck in traffic. Evening rush hour was particularly brutal yesterday as my mum and I made our way to the northern end of the city for a meal. It took us 2.5 hours to get there and once we did get there, I couldn’t help but hope this was not going to be a colossal let down. My dinner was at Kangan, the much talked about Indian restaurant at the Westin Hotel in Mumbai and somewhere I kept thinking what on earth have I got myself into.
The restaurant is extremely dim with subtle decor and just a single candle at each table which for me is a nightmare because I love taking photographs of my food and that lighting doesn’t help. Was this to be a wasted trip? Oh dear dear me..
We were politely seated by the window which I must admit is one of the best seats in the house because perch 18 floors above, it’s a lovely view of the city. It’s safe to say both mum and I were famished and the first thing to hit the table were these adorable little fried crisps and papads with chutney and I know it sounds silly, but my theory is that if you can lure me in with a great chutney, it’s a sign of great things to come. Clearly my theory is spot on as I had no reason to complain throughout my meal.
The food is north Indian fare so lots of tikkas, kebabs, heavy gravies and the softest breads. While there were a fair amount of starters, I would strongly suggest the Murgh Bardari Kebab as I am yet to eat chicken that tender and soft. Their version of Dahi Ke Kebabs were superbly crisp outside and creamy cotton like inside. I’m a self confessed meatlover but these vegetarian yogurt tikkis were beautiful. Of course other worthy contenders were their special kakori kebabs ( their specialty I’m told ) Zaik-e-Zaika which is a version of paneer tikkas but very unlike any paneer tikka I’ve had as it had a sweet filling, some dates perhaps? There was also plump tandoori prawns and their mutton chap but for me the first two were memorable and the most flavourful.
The main course featured an interesting fish salan which to me is a genius idea ( I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier ) as I have an excellent recipe for it and realised that the fish pairs so well with it. Murgh Masala and Nalli Nihari though very well made ( mum approved ) didn’t excite me much unlike their incredible Kashmiri Seb ki Sabzi ( apple vegetable ). I’ve never eaten apples as part of a main though I’m told it’s a popular dish in Kashmir and twitter has me well informed about where it’s available. The interesting part is that it’s got natural sweetness from the apples, heat from the kashmiri chillies added and a wonderful spicy warmth from the cloves and cinnamon that goes in. It reminds me of winter and Christmas and just had me brimming with ideas about how to re create this dish ( stay tuned I’m certainly going to share my experiments here ). The Gucchi Biryani or Morel Mushroom Biryani was strictly ok. I’ve eaten better and Mum seemed to not care for it much. ( oh well, you win some you lose some ).
The desserts we chose were their malpuas ( to keep with the spirit of Ramzan and my first malpua this year ) which needless to say was lovely and a pillowy soft rasmalai which happens to be one of my favourite Indian sweets.
Both Mum and I giggled like little school girls because we most certainly over indulged but to be fair the trek we undertook to get here made the overeating perfectly acceptable, to us at least. In conclusion, I learned two things. Firstly, not everything is over hyped ( thank god ) and it’s restored my faith in online reviews and word of mouth feedback. Secondly, as in every other aspect of my life, if I want anything good or satisfying or enjoyable, I must work hard and take an extra effort towards it. In this case, get out of my comfort zone and really make the effort to discover a new place because it’s worth it.
Golden question – Will I re visit. because let’s be honest, that’s really the only test to see how much I enjoyed it. The honest truth ? I would return. However, after a while or on a special occasion because as much as the trek was worth it, it’s exhausting but that is the ONLY reason for my hesitance. If I lived close by, I’d be there next week 🙂
Disclaimer : I was extended an invitation to visit the restaurant after much cajoling as I’m always reluctant to go to the other end of town. There was no stipulation or compulsion to write anything or post on any social media. As always thoughts and opinions are my own and strictly unbiased.