As we soak-in the Kashmiri ambience in Mumbai, a cute wooden Shikara and two beautiful hurricanes accentuate that spirit to our dining table. A Taqiyah-crowned serving staff comes up with a traditional Kashmiri menu: reading which induces serious food-cravings for Kashmiri cuisine. The well-curated menu has a huge range of Kashmiri food choices. As we finalise the order of the Kashmiri dishes from Jyran’s plush Kashmiri Food Festival menu, we are enamoured with the overall Kashmiri vibe. A Pashmina stall at one corner, selling beautiful Pashmina, Kashmiri shawls and scarfs, add to the charm for sure. Sofitel Mumbai BKC’s award-winning restaurant of Jyran looks no less than Kashmir ki Kali, with excellent food and hot Kahwa doing the rest of the magic. Visiting Chefs Abdul Qayum Rishi and Bilal Ahmad Wani leave us enchanted through each dish that they make. They make us feel the scent of Kashmir through stunningly made Kashmiri delicacies. One after the other, we try some of the iconic Kashmiri dishes and specialities of the region, which leaves us spellbound.
We experience the first “Taste of Kashmir” with a peppery tomato soup with whole coriander and cumin. The smooth vegetarian soup called Ras Tamatar Hederi is tantalising to the tastebuds. It is light and just perfect to begin the Kashmiri food journey at Jyran, Sofitel Mumbai BKC. The non-vegetarian soup called Kashmiri Gosht Yakhni Shorba is a must-try, too! The nourishing Kashmiri Gosht Shorba is a traditional, light soup made by simmering lamb broth. In this gastronomic journey we taste two excellent appetisers, which are not only flavourful but very balanced in spices.
The first one, called Chaman Wari Masala Tikka comes in the form of plump cottage cheese cubes marinated with a unique blend of “Kashmiri Wari Masala” and cooked in a clay oven. On the other hand, the popular dish called Tabakh Maaz is a mind-blowing preparation of succulent lamb spare ribs braised in milk with turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom and shallow-fried to perfection. A little sprinkle of Amchur or Chaat Masala and a side of Radish Raita makes the experience memorable forever.
I take a sip from my stunning glass of Rossini: a cocktail made with Strawberry, Cherry and Champagne. Rossini is, according to me, one of the perfect pairings with Kashmiri flavours.
The main course vegetarian dishes are quite impressive. For those who love to eat veggies, there is Kashmiri Haaq, which is traditional Kashmiri spinach cooked in mustard oil.
Nadur Yakhani is a light curry of lotus stem simmered in yogurt gravy flavoured with cumin and a delicate mint powder. The lotus stems just melt in the mouth! As we are a big fan of non-vegetarian traditional dishes, we order a bowl of Rogan Josh, which comes impeccably cooked with Kashmiri Maval petals in a red onion gravy. The cuts and the quality of the meat do total justice to the unique dish.
When you have a tough time choosing between the cousins Gushtaba and Rista, then trust your flavour instincts. If you love a yogurt-based gravy, then go for Gushtaba. If you like a red-onion-based gravy, then Rista is the right choice. More than the gravy, I like how smooth the meatballs are. The texture is superb and the flavour is sublime. Meat that has been painstakingly treated and cured, until the texture is just smooth enough for this popular Kashmiri dish. We choose Gushtaba over Rista, for the love of yogurt. If you still crave for more, go for a delicious bowl of aromatic Zaffrani Murgh, chicken cooked with Kashmiri masala in saffron-based cashewnut gravy. A dal is always a good idea. The Dal Hamdani is green moong dal cooked with Kashmiri spices.
The highlight of the Kashmiri Food Festival is the poetry called Yakhni Pulao, employing Dum-style cooking. It is so good that it is beyond words to describe the experience. The rice, redolent of the lamb broth, and flavoured brilliantly marries fall-off-the-bone baby lamb so harmoniously that it feels like a dream. The dish is extremely light. In one word: outstanding! If Biryani is your choice, then go for the majestic Jahangir Biryani, where Basmati rice and chicken come together along with untainted flavours of saffron, fennel, cloves and cinnamon.
The pricing of the dishes is little on the higher side, however. But given the quality of food, spending a bit extra for a memorable culinary experience is worth it.
Coming back to the menu, there is a huge spread of Indian breads to try out. We recommend you to try the Bakarkhani, a rich bread made with wheat flour in milk, topped with poppy seeds. Try the Sheermal, which is a saffron and green-cardamom-flavoured sweetbread. Alternately, for those who love to eat royally, the Kashmiri Naan takes you a notch higher with tiny pieces of dry fruits in them. Apart from these, you can choose from traditional breads like Naan Makhani, Aab Roti, Tandoori Roti, Mughlai Paratha, Punjabi Missi Roti, Laccha Paratha, Chef Special Paratha, Multigrain Paratha, Naan-ba-Khumach, Ajwaini Laccha Paratha and Stuffed Kulcha.
By the way, they have fantastic dishes in the set menu, too! Choosing among the five dessert options, we decide to end the Kashmiri meal with Shufta and Phirni. While Shufta was a rich dish with bold flavours (having big pieces of dry fruits, cottage cheese, sugar and sweet spices), the Phirni was smooth and sublime, made with semolina and poppy seeds instead of rice. A generous garnish of saffron on the top of the Phirni and tiny pieces of pistachios will surely send anyone to a food coma.
For us, the dinner at the ongoing 10-day Kashmiri food festival, offering the traditional delicacies of Kashmir, is definitely one of the best meals of the year. The food festival at Jyran, the Tandoor dining & lounge, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, will culminate on 25th November, 2018.
Lunch: 12–3 pm
Dinner: 7–11.30 pm
Date: 16th–25th November, 2018
Venue: Jyran—Tandoor Dining & Lounge, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
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