Review: Explore the taste of Rampur at Palladium Hotel’s Sahib Room and Kipling Bar

Located on the 9M level of Palladium hotel is the foodie’s paradise Sahib Room and Kipling Bar. Inspired by the low-key glamour and refined opulence of Colonial India, the restaurant serves up our favourite kind of Indian food- richly flavoured and served with a smile. Our maiden visit to the Sahib Room had left us craving more so we were only too happy to try out their special Rampuri Menu which is available for a limited time. Suffice to say we were not disappointed in the least!

Ambience:
We’ve talked about the pretty interior design and the dedication to the colonial theme once before, so we’ll only say that the restaurant’s novelty has not worn off. We were still charmed by the old world aesthetic.

We visited at lunchtime, so our table was well illuminated by the large picture window. However, I am confident that dinnertime visitors would be treated to a more romantic set up thanks to the glittering lights of the city and a dimly lit interior.

Drinks:
All the cocktails at the Kipling bar are created in-house but we decided to try out the two that were on offer as part of the Rampuri Menu. The Saufiyana was a blend of vodka, orange and (Rudyard Kipling’s favourite spice) fennel while Red Rocks was a chunky mix of watermelon, ginger, mint and rum inspired by Kipling’s description of the Red Fort. For me, the citrusy and unconventional Saufiyana stood out for it punchy aniseed flavour. Red Rocks is a safe pick for those for those who like to keep things simple. Both drinks have the fresh fruitiness that we crave in a summer cocktail.

All in all, the Kipling’s cocktails are intriguing and spicy, I look forward to trying the passion fruit and whisky infused Kim’s Game on my next visit.

An Indian Tempranillo wine made a light as air companion to our heavy Indian meal.

Food:
Chef Angad Rai who devised the menu was afraid that his masterpieces would blend into the sea of done-to-death Rampuri dishes in the Indian restaurant scene, so he hatched a plan to make his own recipes stand out through the clever use of out-of-the-box ingredients. On this menu, you’ll find raw jackfruit, banana flowers, apricots and wild figs each cooked in a way that you never thought of before.

We started with the two soups, Laung Subz Shorba (a creamy soup of vegetable stock thickened with rice) and Murg Chilgoza ka Shorma (velvety soup of shredded chicken and pine nuts with saffron). The former stood out for its subtly spicy flavour and soft rice grains. The murgh Shorba was a saffron tinged version of the chicken soup you know and love. It’s familiar but not memorable.

Appetizers: Clockwise from Top: Tassavur-e-paneer, Kathal ke Seekh, Tat ke Gosht, Tawa Pomfret,  Haider Aloo. Centre: Subzani Murg:
Appetizers: Clockwise from Top: Tassavur-e-paneer, Kathal ke Seekh, Tat ke Gosht, Tawa Pomfret,
Haider Aloo. Centre: Subzani Murg:
Our appetizers were a platter of assorted kebabs starting with: Kathal ke Seekh (Kebab made of minced jackfruit tenderized in milk and local Rampuri spices), Haider Aloo (panchforan or five spiced baby potatoes baked in a clay oven) and Tassavur-e-paneer (grilled cottage cheese marinated in curd, cashewnuts and yellow chilli powder with fine pineapple). I enjoyed the baby potatoes and jackfruit seekh, but the unexpected sweet and spicy paneer was the winner for me among the vegetarian starters. I’m not even usually a fan of paneer, but this tender, grilled to perfection morsel had me salivating. That said, the baby potatoes were well flavoured, bearing a subtle char to add that perfect smoky flavour. The kathal seekh lacked the crumbly texture that I’m used to in a seekh kebab (this was my first time eating a vegetarian seekh kebab) with the jackfruit being minced too finely; the flavours were certainly there, but it could not hold a candle to the other dishes.

Flat bread platter
Flat bread platter
The non-vegetarian starters consisted of Tat ke Gosht (lamb smoked in an open grill, marinated in tandoori spices), Tawa Pomfret (pan seared pomfret marinated in coriander, spinach and mint) and Subzani Murg (tender chicken marinated in pine nuts, basil and dill). The lamb (which was given a good pounding with a meat hammer before grilling) was tender and well flavoured with spices with no trace of the toughness sometimes associated with grilled meat. The chicken was a surprise; with so few visible flavourings I was gearing up for a bland taste but I was surprised by how delicious it was. The fish was my favourite though. Any white fish with green masala usually captures my tastebuds and this one was no exception. The fish was meltingly soft and fresh and its green crust was spicy and mild all at once.

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Clockwise from top: Dal-e-Mumtaz, Safri Murgh, Amla ka Salan and Rampuri Nalliu ka Korma.
Clockwise from top: Dal-e-Mumtaz, Safri Murgh, Amla ka Salan and Rampuri Nalliu ka Korma.
We tried four of the main course gravy dishes: Rampuri Nalli ka Korma (lamb shanks cooked in traditional Rampuri gravy), Amla ka Salan (Indian gooseberries poached in desiccated coconut, peanuts, cashewnuts and sesame seeds), Safri Murg (boneless chicken, fresh organic greens and spring onions) and Dal-e-Mumtaz (a blend of eight organic lentils from the Rampur region). The Amla salan was unlike anything I’ve tried before! Sour fruit in a mild gravy made for an interesting combination. The Safri murg -tender chicken cooked with spinach- made for another mild and easy gravy. The lamb gravy was spicy red gravy which was delicious without being overly rich. The Dal-e-Mumtaz was excellent in its own right, I secretly hope it will be added to the restaurant’s regular menu.

Accompaniments: From top: tomato chilli dip, garlic, raw mango chutney, orange chutney.
Accompaniments: From top: tomato chilli dip, garlic, raw mango chutney, orange chutney.
We were served a range of accompaniments from parathas to tandoori rotis and saffron taftans. All of these were warm and soft. The Taftan, in particular was a favourite with us.

L to R(on plate): Sheesh Subz Pulao, Murgh ki Tehri Accompaniments (L to R): Chicken broth gravy + Roasted garlic curd
L to R(on plate): Sheesh Subz Pulao, Murgh ki Tehri
Accompaniments (L to R): Chicken broth gravy + Roasted garlic curd
Sheesh Subz Pulao (fragrant biryani with fresh garden vegetables) and Murgh ki Tehri (pilaf style chicken, potatoes, cinnamon dust) were the rice dishes that concluded the savoury part of our meal. Both were standard fare, not too different from the pilafs and biryanis you’ve probably tried elsewhere. The Doodhiya Gosht Biryani was the only item on the rice menu that looked intriguing to us.

Santra ka Kulfi
Santra ka Kulfi
We concluded the meal with two desserts, the Santra ki kulfi (Indian ice cream infused with orange) and Shir Berenj (aromatic Assamese gobindo bhog rice pudding). The former appealed to us with for its creamy and subtle orange flavour while the latter was a jazzed up version of the classic phirni. I don’t usually like rice puddings as I find them bland, but this one was sweet and rich with texture thanks to the addition of dryfruits and nuts.

Soups (L to R): Murgh Chilgoza Ka Shobra, Laung Subz Shobra
Soups (L to R): Murgh Chilgoza Ka Shobra, Laung Subz Shobra
Recommendations:
There are several dishes worth trying on this eclectic menu. Start with the Laung Subz Shorba which lacks richness but makes up for it with flavour in spades. Though hot soups are usually enjoyed in the winter, this one is light enough to work well even on a summer menu.

On the list of appetizers, don’t miss the Tassavur-e-paneer or the Tat ke Gosht. Both are reimagined classics that will remain in your mind long after you’ve concluded your meal. The Subzani Murg in third place is also a good bet.
Among the mains, the Nalli ka Korma is a must try. Tender meat and a thin spicy gravy make this dish a superstar on the menu. The Dal-e-Mumtaz is a close second. Not many will be keen to try out Dal at a high end restaurant, but this one is a creamy, spicy comfort and eating it feels like being rolled up in a warm blanket.

Verdict:
Our experience was made special by exceptional service. Our server was happy not only to break down the menu for us but also offer trivia about Rampur and the origins and history of the region’s cuisine. The food was exceptional and while we liked some dishes and disliked others, our takeaway was that every dish was unique both in concept and taste. Often at Indian restaurants (especially those that explore North Indian food) the flavours of one dish starts to blend into the next until they all taste identical, but food at the Sahib room does not suffer from this identity crisis.

The Rampuri menu is in keeping with the restaurant’s tradition of mixing classic dishes with modern elements and is a must try for those who love Indian food.

The Rampuri menu is on offer until March 29, so don’t miss it.

What We Ordered:
Saufiyana: Rs.600
Red Rocks: Rs.600
Kathal ke Seekh: Rs.750
Haider Aloo: Rs.650
Tassavur-e-paneer: Rs.650
Tat ke Gosht: Rs.850
Tawa Pomfret: Rs.1350
Subzani Murg: Rs.850
Rampuri Nalli ka Korma: Rs.1000
Amla ka Salan: Rs.750
Safri Murg: Rs.950
Dal-e-Mumtaz: Rs.650
Sheesh Subz Pulao: Rs.650
Murgh ki Tehri: Rs.950
Santra ki Kulfi: Rs.400
Shir Berenj: Rs.400

Address: Level 9M, 462,
Palladium Hotel, Senapati Bapat Marg,
Lower Parel, Mumbai 400013
Phone: 022 6162 8422

Images Courtesy: Erica D’Souza
Disclosure: The writer was hosted at the Sahib Room and Kipling Bar but all opinions expressed are her own.

The Luxe Factor Is

9 Food
9 Service
8 Ambience
8.7