Disclaimer: Neither is this review paid, nor the writer was given any free meal. Basically, no terms & conditions apply!
When was the last time your food surprised you? No, not delighted you, but surprised you. When you were left guessing what the dish was, what the ingredients were, even though it was too familiar a cuisine. Jodhpur Royal Dining is one such restaurant that will tickle your tastebuds in a way you would have never imagined. They can make the familiar unfamiliar and unfamiliar relatable. That’s what the alchemy is really.
After having a meal there, I realized that how often we go to restaurants looking for good food, but have a set expectation of what we want, what is to come. The flavors may differ, the dish essentially remains the same. But Jodhpur transcends the archetypical domain to deliver fusion food in its ‘Retro-Innovative’ avatar, adding a bit of molecular gastronomy to ring in the glitz.
Jodhpur Royal Dining is not a Rajasthani cuisine restaurant, since there weren’t any Rajasthani dishes dominating the menu. What really it stands for is the ‘Royal’ part of it…a meal fit for a king, but in small portions! As in the flavors are rich, but the dishes are bite-sized.
It’s a joy ride to the restaurant on the buggy (do insist on that at the valet) with the small tour of Murooj Rotana’s walkways, waterbodies and gardens. The interiors are reflective of the royal era bedecked with upholstery, mirrors, chandeliers and the works. As if you’ve entered the dreamy world of an eccentric Rajputana scion who might have been stripped of his princely state but retains the opulent lifestyle, royal heritage and the resplendent haveli. The rich hues of turquoise blue and gold define the color palette of Jodhpur Royal Dining (representing the colors of Jodhpur city). The furniture has the vintage look that goes well with the theme and does chalk out the ‘Royal Dining’ label that the restaurant subscribes to.
But the grand affair starts with the food, notably the pre-starters (amuse-bouche) which will set the tone for the rest of the evening. Jeera Khari with Herb Yogurt dip. It’s a subtle snack that leaves a nice aftertaste. The crunch of jeera khari is complemented by the flavors of the herb yogurt. They are served on an auto-rickshaw made with mesh, certainly looking cute.
However, one thing that is not subtle at all is what follows – Macaroon Chaat. Okay, let me take creative liberties to define this femme fatale. Macaroon Chaat is like a French Indian wedding where the Indian groom brings all his khandaan (clan) and celebrates the big fat Indian wedding, while the French bride drapes a saari yet retains her French grace. Now time for a simple one – it’s a savory macaroon with the tangy chaat spices (think of an overdose of cumin, coriander, lime powder, aamchur, peppercorns, etc) – a burst of flavors inside the mouth balanced with a cream filling.
Next beauty that graced our table was Laban & Ricotta Kebab smeared with rose ash, their take on the delectable dahi kebab. This cheesy kebab with sumac infusion is cold, but you wouldn’t regret it one bit. To follow suit was another vegetarian stunner – Pesto Kebab. As delectable as it can get, with raisins and cream cheese filling, topped with popcorn chutney. These dishes establish this restaurant as ‘vegetarian-friendly’. Because wifey often complains of not getting great veg food, as if it was a formality for restaurants. But Jodhpur takes special interest in creating vegetarian dishes that are not only good, but sometimes better than the non-veg. I can vouch for it because my Galauti Kebab wasn’t as good as the vegetarian kebabs. The nawabs lose, commoners win!
While we waited for the mains, we were treated with a visual treat that tasted great. The mango sorbets freckled with cranberry & kaffir lime came in miniature Hawkins pressure cookers, clouded in mist & mystery as the server gleefully played with liquid nitrogen. Lip-smackin’ goodness in these palate cleansers, sweet and toothsome. I somehow would still compare their palate cleansers with Farzi’s, and would say Farzi owns this ‘magic spell’ category.
The Tandoori Matra Kulchas were just bang on for their authenticity, served as bite-size portions / pockets. Being from Delhi, I absolutely loved this dish as it’s a staple for Delhi-ites. In fact this was the dish my mom went gaga about. Not that it was a novel dish, but because it was just spot-on. They served another round of palate cleansers, drinks that were full of flavors and worked as digestives. The Guava drink is noteworthy because of the chaat masala in it – the perfect match of not-so-sweet taste of guava and the tang of chaat masala. It’s symbolic of a traditional Indian marriage wherein the priest announces that all the 36 gunas match in the kundali.
By this time, we had already made up our mind that the chef had midas touch. Lo and behold, Chef Pradeep Khullar was at our table for a short tete-a-tete. He is a charming chef who shares his passion with everyone, is full of stories about his food-ventures and inarguably the best Indian cuisine chef around (4.9 rating on Zomato is no small deal, not to mention the best chef titles he’s won so far).
Moving onto the mains, we were treated with Meen Malai, which is sea bass crusted with green paste, sitting on a yellow curry. The dish doesn’t need an accompaniment like rice or chapatti, can be had just with spoon. Awesomeness in every bite. The faux dal makhani is a surprise because the chef had used green moong dal instead of black lentils. Yet the taste was perfect. It comes with Chur Chur Kulcha that is every bit heavenly. The Chicken Tikka Biryani was good, but I wouldn’t call it the best yet, it was a bit dry for my liking.
The Lotus Biscoff treacle tart with salted butterscotch icecream. The name itself is drool-worthy. Every ounce of this dessert was worth relishing. The tart was placed alongside a dollop of butterscotch ice-cream with the lotus biscuits splattered around drenched in chocolate sauce.
To round off, I would say Jodhpur sits comfortably at the pinnacle with its amazing food and innovations, while the service accentuates the whole experience. A round of applause for their staff who exemplify ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ with their sweet gestures, elaborating each dish with passion & zest. Rating Jodhpur even with a 4.5 out of 5 is sacrilege, as it deserves every bit of glory with a five on five.