Dum Pukht

ITC Maratha (Sheraton) hotel, Mumbai, 400099, India

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Dum Pukht is one of the three serious Indian restaurants at the ITC Sheraton in Mumbai. Dum cooking is a style whereby dishes are cooked (or finished) in a heavy bottomed pan (a “handi”), which is sealed at the top and then subjected to a slow cooking process. It was a technique introduced in 18th century India in Awadh province.

Shorba timater was a spicy tomato soup flavoured with cumin and coriander; this had an excellent balance of taste, and avoided the watery texture of some Indian soups (14/20). Jhinga dum nisha consisted of a trio of huge prawns, served in their shells, which had been marinaded, then cooked in a tandoor and finished in the handi. Despite their size the prawns were extremely tender throughout, and were of high quality (15/20). Murgh chanda tikka was chicken in a cumin marinade, again cooked in a tandoor then finished in the handi. This was very tender, and the cumin taste worked nicely with the chicken (14/20).

Tandoori roti was stunning; so often a roti can be rock hard, but this version was supple with a lovely hint of charcoal from the tandoor (16/20). The bill was 7000 rupees (£81) for two. Service was rather sloppy on our first visit, with difficulty getting attention on a busy night,. On a quieter second visit the service was fine; the notes for this meal follow..

Hana Kaba Awahdi was not an inspired choice. It is essentially a spinach chickpea dal, stuffed with cottage cheese and fenugreek, then shaped into a cylinder and pan-fried. While not unpleasant, the dish was very dish, and was crying out for some kind of sauce to accompany it (11/20).Habiba lamb chops were cooked with black cumin, pepper, figs and malt vinegar, cooked on a griddle and then finished in the handi pot. Although cooked to order (taking 20 minutes) the lamb itself was tasty and had absorbed the spices well, but could have been a fraction more tender; I suspect a lengthier cooking process would have improved the dish , though it was still very enjoyable (13/20).

Murgh khushk purdah was an unusual dish, chicken cooked with bell peppers in a marinade involving star anise and vinegar, cooked initially in the tandoor and then finished in the handi. The pot was sealed with pastry, which retained the aroma of the cooking nicely, releasing this when the pastry seal was broken on serving. The slight sour note of the vinegar actually worked well with the chicken, which was moist, and overall this was a most enjoyable dish (15/20). A biriani of Kashmri morels was much better than the vegetable biriani of our previous visit, the morels adding a much more interesting dimension of flavour to the rice (14/20).

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