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Nawabi flavours

Slow-cooked dishes whose legacy goes back a few centuries make this restaurant offering Awadhi cuisine such an authentic place

When two individuals who are passionately in love with heritage cuisine, who like to cook and feed others wholeheartedly, decide to run a restaurant together, diners can expect a delectable feast. This is the story of co-owners of Namak Mandi, a charming restaurant tucked away in DLF Promenade, Vasant Kunj. Ahsan Ali Qureshi and Ishita Yashvi have got together to bring alive authentic food legacies of Awadhi cuisine.

Interestingly, the name comes from a famous market called Namak Mandi that was the centre of important trade and food activities for centuries across GT Karnal Road back in the day.

Clarifying the concept, the enterprising Ishita says, “We at Namak Mandi offer authentic Awadhi food. Our recipes carry the legacy of slow-cooked preparations made the traditional way.”

Decorated with 19th century arches and concrete walls, plush with handpicked weathered wooden furniture, every corner of the restaurant has a distinct ethnic character. A key feature of the restaurant is its open kitchen, giving diners a peek at the expert hands at work bringing alive the legacy cuisine. The food is served in warm vessels and platters to ensure the taste, temperature and flavour is at its best.

The food is a celebration of Awadhi cuisine. Be it Galawati Kebab or Dum Nacknavi Biryani from Lucknow — each recipe at Namak Mandi speaks of authenticity, both in terms of taste and origin.

There is ample choice for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The signature item is Tandoori Jhinga —  prawns perfectly marinated in ginger, garlic and salt, with yoghurt for added flavour.

Dum Nacknavi is truly the star attraction in the Namak Mandi menu. Different from the quintessential biryani in terms of taste and flavour, Dum Nacknavi comes straight from the nawabs, and is an integral part of the Awadhi cuisine. At the restaurant, it is delicately cooked on dum and served with a purdah made of flour.

Gosht Nehari is another traditional Awadhi recipe: slow cooked mutton stew with myriad spices which is best paired with Khameeri roti.

Vegetarians can feast on special Kathal Dum Biryani.  For those who enjoy their food mildly spiced, this is the perfect answer. Biryani lovers who love to experiment with different styles will rediscover biryani that is gently prepared with unripe jackfruit. This aromatic preparation, replete with spices and distinct flavours, is a treat Chef Qureshi urges you to indulge in.

Mandi ki Dal is yet another exquisite offering from Namak Mandi. The chefs follow a recipe that brings alive the flavour of urad dal blended with the goodness of garlic and butter, and the choicest spices, slow-cooked overnight to attain perfection.

Pindi Chole, also slow-cooked in a rich condiment of special spices, ginger and garlic, is a dish you cannot miss here. The unique flavour and texture set this dish apart as it can turn out to be your favourite of the day.  Relish it with a stuffed garlic kulcha or tandoori roti.

Kathal Ka Burrah is one dish chefs are very proud of as they have unleashed the real flavour of lush and fresh jackfruit in the form of kebabs, fused with an exotic blend of spices. Flavoursome, soft, yet crunchy, Kathal ka Burrah is the perfect veg appetiser.

SubzGalawati Kebabs are a melt-in-the-mouth tender and juicy vegetarian version of the traditional Galawati kebabs. Prepared with fresh seasonal vegetables, SubzGalawati Kebabs are delicious, flavourful, just right to appease the palate of the vegetarians.

One must indulge in Family Naan here, a big generous bread apt for sharing. A perfect dish for celebrations with family and friends.

The restaurant also offers Rogan Josh, an aromatic Kashmiri preparation, a beautiful medley of robust flavours. Raan-e-Changezi is meant for Raan fans. At Namak Mandi the chefs prepare it with utmost attention to detail, a treat you would not like to miss.

Round off your meal with Jaan-e-Azam – the royal classic Shahi Tukda made to perfection.  Or indulge in the richness of the creamy texture of Narangi Kulfi —orange flavoured kulfi skilfully blended with pistachios and served uniquely in the fruit’s shell.

Lastly you must gorge on the decadent dessert Phirni which adds the right zest to your meal – a creamy, lip-smacking dish, which entices you immediately when served.

Do not miss out on having Thandai, made in its truest and most authentic form at Namak Mandi. It is prepared with milk and crushed almonds along with a subtle hint of spices.

So head to Namak Mandi and get satiated after a sumptuous meal which calls for a feast any day.