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How ladies lunched

A throwback to colonial times, this restaurant recreates a bygone era despite being situated in a modern bustling mall

A classic white marble fountain, some lush artificial grass, a white car with a laal batti (red beacon), and you’re ushered into a world of royalty — that’s Ji Memsaab for you. Nestled in the quaint Eros City Square Mall, this restaurant’s purpose is to give you the true fine dining experience, with some gorgeously cooked curries and scrumptious naans.

When we first entered the first-floor restaurant after passing the small fountain, a white Ambassador parked right there confused us for a bit. While we were trying to fathom out the reason for its presence on the terrace, the manager told us that it is displayed to reinforce the theme of the restaurant. The idea is to show the Memsahib culture which was prominent in colonial times in the country.

Inside, the restaurant looks like a traditional fine dining restaurant from the Raj, where one would see flower print upholstery, tall wooden chairs, different styles of seating, oriental lamps and gold coloured plates. The restaurant gives away a true sense of an establishment of a bygone era and a place which is not going to bow to modernity. It’s a risk, but the decor works.

Giving it a true sense of an aristocratic establishment, the restaurant throws a significant amount of light on that culture from the past. But keeping atmospherics aside, our stomachs were screaming for some good curries, which will soothe the soul and the mind. Isn’t that sacrosanct when it comes to food?

To further enhance the experience and beat the heat, we ordered two beverages Aamras Tulip and Memsaab in Hawaii. The drinks came in two oversize glasses. Memsaab in Hawaii’s pineapple flavours took us on a tropical trip, while Aamras Tulip brought us back home. We complained that it was too sweet, so the restaurant added some soda to lighten the sweetness. It worked.

Starting with the practice lap, we were asked to try the Golgappa Dahi Puri (Rs 225). Often seen on the streets, the main ingredient is the essential chutney which decides the dish’s fate. When the plate with six pieces of golgappas arrived, the undying love for street chaat woke again.

With the first bite, your mouth is raided with the spicy chutney and the sweetness of dahi. While these golgappas are smooth from inside, the crust is crisp like a nicely ironed shirt. Proving that this dish was given more thought than the one you get on the streets.

The aftertaste was spicy, but not spicy like hot sauce and the dahi healed the tongue from the continued attack of spices. The teekha and meetha remained sacrosanct with the dish. To further extend the grandiosity of the place, four perfectly cooked papads came in a gold colour plate, hinting at the food marathon we’re here to participate in.

The menu was a bit overwhelming, so we took our time to order. From lamb chops to fish tikka to prawns, one could find everything in the appetiser section. To clear our doubts, we asked the managers who suggested that the Murg Tikka Mirza Hasnu (Rs 445) was bang for the buck. So we went ahead.

Besides the beautiful named non-vegetarian appetiser, we also ordered Mushroom Galouti Kebab (Rs 345), which melt in your mouth in no time.

As we waited for our main dishes, the restaurant’s playlist of romantic and mostly sad songs kept us company, making us think about our dating lives. Such is the power of music. It would be a no-no for someone going through a heartbreak. The music will either make you call up the person, or you will exit crying, after breaking some naans, of course.

Invading the table with the marvellous smell of spices comes Murg Tikka — six ravishing pieces of chicken on a platter, begging to be consumed. The aroma of these kebabs was such that we could smell the marination from a hand’s distance. The chicken was cooked layer upon layer, giving proof of the culinary skills of the cooks in the restaurant. Not just cooked, but the very smell of chicken was evident, and it was nothing but fresh. Even a plate of these tikka would suffice for two people, that’s how fulfilling they are.

The Mushroom Galouti Kebab stood true to its reputation in the restaurant — so soft that it would give tough competition to a freshly baked cookie. The texture was creamy as a whole. Since mushroom was the key ingredient in the dish, it gave the kebab a whole new texture. Finding smooth mushroom kebabs than these would be a task.

Sprinting through the non-vegetarian and vegetarian kebabs, the need of the hour was a short stroll. These monstrously delicious dishes made us stroll inside and outside (the balcony) area, when it was 44 degrees outside.

Coming back from our stroll, we were confident enough to try out the entrée the restaurant has to offer. In a confused state, we asked the manager, we received three recommendations. Pretty regular, but good way to judge a new restaurant. The three dishes were Dak Bungalow inspired Chicken Curry (Rs 475), Laal Maas (Rs 545) and Kashmiri Dum Aloo (Rs 375).

All these dishes are high in demand in any restaurant, and it was a wise choice to go with them because if a ‘North Indian’ restaurant cannot offer a solid chicken curry or a potato dish, then it isn’t the real deal.

Our expectations from the main course were high. And we were not disappointed. It would be no exaggeration to say that that we smelt the food when it was a few feet away from our table. The smell of Laal Maas especially kept going notches high while dominating the airspace inside the air-conditioned restaurant.

Alluring at first sight itself, Laal Maas even garnered attention of a fellow vegetarian sitting on the other side of the table. It looked the way Laal Maas is supposed to.

The chef tells us that the restaurant gets dry red chillies straight from Rajasthan. The team of cooks soak these red hot peppers overnight and then boil them the next morning. The key ingredients that goes into the restaurant’s Laal Maas are ghee, garlic and curd, and then chunks of mutton are released into the kadhai.

The chef says that the quality of mutton is important to savour the exquisite taste of this dish. With the dishes, we ordered garlic naan and a butter naan (Rs 95 each). The naans were quite were crisp and main tained their shape throughout the course of our meal.

Speaking of Laal Maas, the aroma was not alone fabulous, but the taste of mutton too. Very delicately cooked, so much so, that it broke within a turn through the knife. The gravy on the other hand, was rich in colour, and giving a true sense of the famous Rajasthani dish.

The Dak Bungalow Chicken Curry was super creamy. The chef told us that he makes separate gravy for this colonial era dish. “The gravy consists of brown onions and curd,” says Lokesh Sharma, the chef of the restaurant.

The chicken in this dish too was evenly cooked, and not a morsel was too hard to chew. The brown onions and coconut in the dish really changed its taste. A dish on its own, different from all the chicken curries that are there, but then this curry wasn’t North Indian. We comfortably ignored that point. Nonetheless, the manager tells us that this is a specialty of the restaurant and something worth giving it a try. We couldn’t agree more.

When we thought we were done with this food marathon, another pleasant surprise came to our table. All sweet, no spices — Kulfi Falooda (Rs 225) — in an oval glass bowl, which was freezing cold when it came. Chunks of frozen kufli, engulfed with Rooh Afza and layers of faluda.

This dessert won’t set off alarm bells ringing about your sugar intake of the day, and can be comfortably eaten as the sweetness is well under control. Biding adieu to the place, we told ourselves that we will come again for the main course and to have Memsaab in Hawaii again.

Disclaimer: Reporter visited the restaurent on invitation