Dum Pukht Kolkata

1, Jbs Haldane Avenue, ITC Sonar Bangla,, Science City, Kolkata, 22.5336607, India

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Dum Pukht is a high-end Indian restaurant brand of the ITC hotel group. It specialises In the cuisine of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh in northern India, known in particular for the technique of cooking over a slow fire in a sealed container, known as a "dum" - "pukht" means "cooking". The dining room is on the ground floor of the hotel, the seating split over two levels. The decor is smart but the plinky-plonky music playing did not add anything to the atmosphere.

Popadoms were shaped into little cones and served with four chutneys made from scratch in the kitchen, the best of which was a lively garlic chutney.  To begin, dudiya kebab was cottage cheese stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes that were shallow fried and then finished in a sealed dum pot. This had a creamy texture and subtle spicing (13/20). I had murgh chandi tikka, pieces of chicken marinated in cumin and other spices, cooked in a tandoor and then finished in a dum. The meat was tender and avoided any dryness, the spice mix nicely elevating the flavour of the bird (15/20).

Gucchin pulao was saffron rice cooked with Kashmiri morels and finished in a sealed pot along with cardamom. The basmati rice was superbly cooked, the grains distinct and aromatic, the morels having good flavour, the saffron adding elegance - it is rare to find rice cooked this well (15/20). Jhunga dum nisha had large prawns that had been marinated in cheese and yoghurt, flash cooked in a tandoor and then transferred to a dum; these were served with a seafood chutney flavoured with saffron. This was a successful dish, the prawns tender and the chutney having plenty of flavour (14/20).

Yellow dhal had lovely texture (14/20), a world away from the watery specimens that so often appear in London, and cauliflower florets tasted fine but had become a little cold by the time they were served (12/20). Naan bread was very good, with a hint of smokiness from the charcoal tandoor (14/20). For dessert, gulab jamun was a good example of the breed, rich and sweet without being excessively so (14/20).

Service was very good, attentive but not pushy. The bill came to a chunky INR 11,952 with beer to drink, which works out at £59 a head. This is certainly not cheap, especially when you compare it with local restaurants, but reflects the luxury hotel setting. For the money you are at least getting elaborate and skillful cooking. 

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