The real Mughal
The newly redesigned menu at Umerkot only emphasises the restaurant's refusal to go the homogenised north Indian cuisine way
PHOTO: MURALI KUMAR K.
SCRUMPTIOUS MAKEOVER Many delicious changes have been incorporated in the main course
One is always nervous to hear that a restaurant of one's choice is going under the knife, so to speak, as the owners nip and tuck their way through the menu according to popular demand. After all, popular opinion and personal preference rarely go hand in hand, especially when dealing with cuisines that rarely get served in a largely slapdash culinary atmosphere like Bangalore.
And so, the first task for me as soon as I heard that Umerkot (with its food from the Akbari gharanas) had redone its menu, was to see if all of my old favourites had made the cut.
For those who have been to Umerkot before, the karari bhindi chaat and the kadak reshmi kebab have stayed on, as has the gosht nalli afghani, which has turned out to be the restaurant's most popular creation. Some of the more interesting creations such as the rajme ki gilawat have disappeared, but one needn't fret because the menu's newest additions make much of the old line-up fade to insignificance.
Take the gosht laccha kebab, for instance, the highlight of the kebab section. "The closest thing to Unani cuisine", this creation is in a gastronomic league of its own, with a smooth, pasty texture that is got from marinating the meat in pineapple and papaya so that the "pectin breaks down the fibres of the meat". For the substantial size of each kebab piece, the meat is astonishingly tender. And thanks to the wonderful texture of the marinade, the tastes stay on your tongue long after the meat is done. Or there's the macchi ke parche, an altogether uplifting experience thanks to the interesting combination of fresh mint and coriander roots (not leaves!), which give the kebab a refreshing, tangy taste.
For the vegetarians, the best new addition is the adraki phool tandoor-cooked cauliflower florets with a ginger and spice marinade. The marinade is yoghurt-based (as are many of the kebabs on the menu) and here it really shows that the restaurant uses hung yoghurt instead of plain, as the creamy marinade gives some substance to the all-too-delicate florets, a feeling that is enhanced by the strong garlic flavour.
Also fascinating is the hare moong ki shammi or patties of green whole gram with a core of cheese. The whole green gram brings to the table an unusual earthiness, while the cheese keeps the dish from being too heavy and dull for the average palate.
It's in the main course that many remarkable changes have come about however. One of the points of the menu redesign was to incorporate more vegetarian choices, according to one of the partners. And so, for those tired of the run-of-the-mill dal makhni, the dal shekhawati with a sombre infusion of bottlegourd is the way to go. Another great addition is the mutter makhana masaledar, which has a richness that manages to reform even our pea-loathing tongues.
But it's the meat eaters that will enjoy the new menu most, thanks to the deg ka keema, minced mutton cooked in a wholesome mix of spices. The surprise here comes in the form of the corn kernels that give the dish a fibrous crunch that peas or beans cannot deliver.
Not quite as fascinating, but a great chicken option nonetheless is the murg-e-firdaus, which serves up stuffed chicken pieces in a delicious fried onion based gravy. And while all of these gravies go best with the ghilafi kulcha, the bharwan kulcha with an interesting chilli cheese stuffing doesn't do badly either.
The dessert section too has a new addition in the form of the paneer ki jalebi. The restaurant makes its own paneer for this, which is then mashed and poured out in the shape of jalebis. This is a rich dessert with rather generous doses of sweetness. If rich sweets are what get you going, this is the ideal dessert choice for you. But if not, the restaurant's kulfis are a much better choice.
And if that impressive menu isn't enough, the restaurant also boasts an impressive selection of wines and liquors. Although the menu lists out only 14 wines that the partners felt go best with the kind of cuisine served here, the cellar actually boasts 42 different choices. And if there is anything you are particular about, you are welcome to go by the cellar and pick out any wine you want.
Umerkot, at #30, 80ft Road, 4th Block, Koramangala, can be contacted on 25500426.
Wallet Factor: Rs. 700-Rs. 800 for two
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