Bukhara is on the ground floor of the ITC Mauriya hotel in New Delhi, and opened in the distant days of 1977. Named after the ancient city of Bukhara on the Silk Road, it is a large restaurant, seating 134 diners at any one time, split up into several rooms with an open kitchen visible to some of the diners. There are exposed stone walls and rugs and copper urns for decoration, all in keeping with its general theme of the rustic north west frontier of India. The seating is quite closely packed, much of it on stools rather than chairs. The format is unusual: the menu appears on a wooden board, and there are no starters. All savoury dishes arrive at once, and there is no cutlery - you eat with your hands and the bread.
There is a wine list available, though bizarrely only some vintages are listed. Vineyard Hound Allan Scott Pinot Noir 2011 was INR 4.500 for a wine that you can find for around INR 1,990 in a UK high street, Schlumberger Kitterle Pinot Gris 2009 was INR 7,800 for a wine that you can find in a shop for INR 2,363, and Antinori Tignanello 2010 was INR 16,500 for a wine that retails at INR 6,466.
Murgh malai tikka was excellent, half a dozen large pieces of chicken that had been marinated with spices and cheese before being cooked in a tandoor. The chicken was very tender indeed and had taken on the flavours of the spices in the marinade, with a nice smoky hint of charcoal from the tandoor (easily 15/20). Cauliflower florets were deep fried in a gram flour coating and retained their texture well (13/20). This was better than a potato dish that was decent but rather bland (12/20). A signature dish is the makhani dal made with ginger, garlic and lentils, simmered overnight on a slow charcoal fire, and this was indeed very good, rich and with the pulses having plenty of firmness within the sauce (14/20). Naan bread was pleasant if a touch dryer than I like it (13/20) but a romali roti was very good, thin and delicate (14/20). Gulab jaman was very sweet, even by the standards of this dish in India, though the texture was fine (13/20).
Service was reasonable though not exactly cuddly. The bill, including several beers, came to INR 8770 for two, so INR 4385 (£42) per head. The meal was better than I remember it from a visit long ago, and it was very pleasant, but I have certainly eaten better elsewhere in India e.g. at the Jamavar in Bangalore or the Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, to name but two. It is also less good than the admittedly quite different Indian Accent in the same city. However Bukhara has marketed itself skilfully over the years: there is even a "presidential tasting menu" (INR 7,150) that name checks Bill Clinton's visit there in March 2000.
Further reviews: 01st Dec 2000