Being a food writer, I often taste different cuisines, but the flavours that ooze out from our rich Indian heritage, are the flavours that I grew up on. Being an Indian foodie, I believe that I have a good understanding of Indian cuisine. This is the cuisine that motivated me to learn and experiment more with common Indian ingredients. Indian cooking is not as easy as it seems. It has nuances. The moment you overcook a spice for a few extra seconds, your dish loses its flavour. The order of introducing the ingredients to your kadhai makes a huge impact to the final dish, too. This is the reason why we do raise our eyebrows when an Indian restaurant serves food that doesn’t match the expectations. On the other hand, when we get to taste “authentic” Indian food, we do forget whether it is served in a roadside dhaba or a sophisticated restaurant. Indian food is all about comfort and variety. Don’t you agree?
I had an opportunity to review the menu served at Amaya Indian Grill & Kitchen, Phoenix Marketcity Kurla. We were a close-knit, good old gang of Mumbai food bloggers, who were looking forward to this dinner as soon as we received the invites from the Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI). We were all giggles and fun, and good food at Amaya was definitely something that made our day! Amaya smelled of aromatic biryanis, delicious curries and juicy kebabs, and maybe this propelled our non-stop chitter-chatter after a busy day at work. The aroma of the spices of Amaya’s North Indian cuisine made us hungrier, as we waited for the starters to arrive!
The Chef’s Table was curated by Chef Paul Kinny, who also runs two other restaurants, called 212 café and Sichuan House. Chef Kinny and his team rustled up an interesting menu at Amaya. With a prominent influence of the cooking-style of North-West Province of India, Amaya Indian Grill & Kitchen has a variety of traditional North Indian dishes, and that was the focus of the Chef’s Table on that evening. Of all the dishes we tasted there, some of the dishes were delicious, whereas some needed improvement. The starters, particularly, were very good. The two stand-out signature starter dishes by Chef Kinny, the Dahi ke Kebab and the Lehsooni Jheenga, were delightful. The Lehsooni Jheenga was full of wonderful garlicky smell, which married with the smoky charcoal-grilled prawns very well. The prawns were juicy and perfectly cooked too! The crispy Hare Mirch aur Dhaniya ki Tikkis were also great, and I loved how the chef played with cottage cheese, onions, coriander and green chillies in this dish. This was served with mint chutney.
The Amaya menu actually had a good number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters, which already filled our stomachs, before we could explore what they had in store for the main course and desserts. Other delicious starters included Achari Paneer Jaituni, Punjabi Lasooni Kebab, Murgh Lucknowi Kebab and Surmai Fry. I loved the Peshawari Kumbh: claypot-cooked button mushrooms marinated in a Peshawari masala-based sauce and stuffed with a mixture of cheese and spices, cooked in claypot. The Noorani Seekh and the Lamb Gilafi Seekh Kebab were yum.
For a change, we saw basil in an Indian starter dish and we loved it too. The Tulsiani Paneer Tikka had the margination of basil and green chillies, and the refreshing flavours were just right for the Indian palate. These were skewered with tomatoes and onions. The Hara Bhara Kebab was not upto the mark.
Although overall, the starters were very impressive, the serving staff appeared a bit confused. There was a power cut in the mall that day, which might have obviously affected the kitchen. They were serving food to the bloggers in an uneven and inconsistent manner. Some of the bloggers could not taste some of the dishes, whereas the others were served food more than they could eat. When the main course was served, the serving staff were in too much hurry to serve the food, so much so that they didn’t realise that our plates were overflowing with an ocean of different types of overlapping gravies! We were a big group and the serving staff were obviously also little stressed out because of the power cut that day.
The main course boasted of popular Indian dishes, like Kadhai Paneer, Bhatti Da Murgh Masala, Nihari Gosht, Murgh Dehati, and Pudina Pomfret. These were served with very flavourful naans. The Paneer ke Dulme looked gorgeous and tasted good, with a hint of fenugreek. The Subz Miloni impressed me a lot: it was a medley of vegetables, cooked with generous amounts of fenugreek and spinach. Although I just loved their Dal Makhani, Roghan Josh and the Pahadi Lassoni Palak, I didn’t quite enjoy Amaya’s signature Dum Biryanis, which tasted somewhat bland. I could not enjoy the biryanis even more, also because I was overstuffed by the time the biryanis arrived. However, I did feel that the vegetarian biryani tasted better than its non-vegetarian version. Some of the main-course gravies tasted almost similar.
The Kolkata Meetha Paan Ice Cream was just the perfect way to end the meal. It was packed with the kick that a Meetha Paan brings on chewing. This is a must-try dessert at Amaya. The Baked Gulab Jamun with Rabdi Glaze was just average. My Gulab Jamun wasn’t even baked!
For me, Amaya was a mixed experience. The ambience was good, but the service should be better. The starters were excellent. Apart from the starters, some main-course dishes were also great, whereas a few needed improvement. I hope this review would help you to decide and order the best North-Indian dishes in the Amaya menu. Do write to me on what you tried there!
On another note, my blog Cosmopolitan Currymania has been nominated for the prestigious Blogadda #WIN15 awards in the Food and Drink category. I would really appreciate if you to take two minutes out of your busy schedule and vote for me here. The voting closes on 13th of September.