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It's a jungle in here


For a feed in Tiger den.

TIGER TRAILS, the 20-year-old place that provided the Britishers' hunting lodge ambience at Harsha Park Inn, has just been refurbished. It now has a jungle abode feel with fireplaces, stag heads, tiger pictures on its walls, a rough floor, along with memorabilia like coats of arms from the Raj days, antique guns, and so on. Even the sofas and crockery have tiger-stripe patterns.

At two open hearths, the chef helps create a meal to suit your taste. And they have a new menu, the kind one would enjoy eating around a campfire. The selection is from various cuisines of the regions where the tiger was tracked, including reserve forests of Bandipur, Nagarhole, Kanha, Sunderbans, Dudwa, Ranthambhore, Corbett, and Sariska. Wine, beer, whiskey, brandy, gin, vodka, rum along with cocktails and mocktails are served here. One can choose from tigertini (its version of traditional martini), pina colada (pineapple juice, coconut milk, white rum), bloody Mary, whiskey sour, et al. The mocktails include safari punch, a heavenly mixture of fruit juices.

The new menu is not long. It offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian kababs, fried and stir-fried items, curries, gravies, rice, bread, parathas, and desserts. To get a balanced meal, all one has to do is make a choice from each section. You could begin with chandi ka tikka, boneless chicken, marinated in curd, cheese and cream, and finished in the tandoor with spices. Or there is a Sunderbans dish - ajwain bekti tikka (chunks of bekti with ajwain), a truly enjoyable delicacy. Vegetarians can choose from paneer tiranga or sona paneer. The latter is a Lucknowi char-grilled cottage cheese, stuffed with spices, vegetables, and herbs. The portions here are generous and other starters include tandoori jhinga, moorg achari kabab, dudiya sheekh (grilled paneer speciality from Madhya Pradesh), stuffed mushroom kabab, and stuffed potatoes. The fired items include mutton seekh kabab, which is stuffed with cheese and spices, and is fried golden brown. Or one can opt for its special stir-fried mutton pepper sukka. The Punjabi tawa murg (stir fried with onions) is a popular dish.

For vegetarians, arbi aur bhuttay ki tikki is a real find. Based on what an old lady did at Sariska, this is a tikki cooked with arbi and corn, sweetened with traditional Punjabi spices, and fried till golden brown.

To relive one's stay in Bengal, one could try chingri machher malai kari - a traditional dish from the Sunderbans region, and the chef deserves kudos for this lightly spiced gravy item that allows the delicate taste of prawns to come through.

Another unusual gravy item is turai mutter - gourd and peas cooked in methi gravy that would please vegetarians. Those partial to baby corn can order jalfrezi - batonettes of vegetables and baby corn simmered in a rich, tomato gravy.

There are also other paneer items such as dumpling, makhni, kadai, dum aloo banarasi, and dum mirch malai. Tiger naan is a must try in the Indian bread section. It is an oversized naan with kalonji, which can be shared by three or four diners. Parathas, roomali roti, kulchas, rotis are the other breads available here. Rice, as done in its lemongrass pulao, has interesting flavours with an assortment of vegetables and cottage cheese.

Matka dum biryani and corn pulao are the other rice items. In desserts, one should try the khubbani ka meetha - it has apricots with cardamom and is layered with custard and fresh cream. Kulfi with falooda, phirni (milk, rice, saffron, cardamom in a little clay matka), and rasmalai, are the other offerings in this section.

The pickles, served here, need a special mention. There are unusual pickles made from sapota (chiku)! And its fresh carrot stir-fried pickle adds a nice touch to one's meal. Valet parking is available.

An average meal for two costs Rs. 450, and credit cards are accepted.

It is best to reserve a table during weekends and for dinners. Tiger Trails can be contacted on 2865566.

ARUN BHATIA

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