With more and more restaurants and bars opening every month, diners today are spoilt for choice. Continental, Mediterranean, Polish, comfort food, Izakaya, grills, tapas – you name it and it’s being served. Global cuisines, which introduce more flavour profiles, are at the heart of this movement. In such a foodscape, when you hear of a focus on traditional, authentic Indian cuisine, you take note. Which explains my curiosity surrounding Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai’s restaurant, which has introduced a lavish new Awadhi menu.
Soma, spread over a sprawling three levels, is the hotel’s luxury Indian dining restaurant, with décor that’s entirely lunar-inspired (think various shades of cream and off-white, and kalamkari wall drapes featuring celestial objects). Helming the kitchen here is Chef Nadeem Qureshi, a seventh-generation chef, whose new menu recreates flavourful dishes from erstwhile royal times, when a spread was prepared by cleverly playing around with aromas and flavour. This ‘art of balance’ is what the new menu focuses on. “My grandmother once told us to not be afraid of creating new or unthinkable compositions. So, when my mother used hari moong that had a mild flavour, with lamb that had a distinct succulence, she didn’t face criticism. Recreation when done instinctively can work wonders. I am just recreating that legacy of regal subtlety and balance.”
This is evident in the (exhaustive) menu. I started with the Bhuna Badami Shorba, served in a hand-beaten copper bowl. Its nuttiness and the slightly textured thickness were ideal, save the coriander, which felt slightly obtrusive. The barbequed Dum Anari Jhinga or pomegranate smeared shrimps, more than made up for the staccato start. Unexpectedly rife with flavour and a hint of smokiness, this dish has more flavouring options, like aril seeds, if you love the nutmeg.
Another surprise was the Kaale Jamun Ke Murg Tikke, a lip-smacking appetizer of Indian blackberry and chicken. Carefully crushed in a mortar and pestle, the tangy taste of blackberry is combined with spices and chicken, transforming it into a dish that’s delightfully tender. And I can’t recall having tasted a more lush lobster than the Lobster on Malai. Cooked with freshly extracted coconut milk sauce, which is at its heart, Qureshi tweaks it with South India’s favourite, aromatic curry leaves, giving it a mildly aromatic twist.
If like me, you too have a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy the Mithai ka Dabba, served in a decorative wooden multi-chambered box. Of the eight sweet dishes, including the ubiquitous Gulab Jamun and Moong Dal Ka Halwa that came in bowls, what bowled me over was the art of confectionery that went into making the Thande Gulab Kheer. Dainty and frail, purple coloured rice pudding, peppered with dried rose petals, was perhaps one of the high points of the menu. So if you’re in the mood to try something regal, something that mimcs old-world charm, have your fill at Soma.
Where: Grand Hyatt Hotel and Residencies, Grand Hyatt, Lobby Level, Siddharath Nagar, Vakola, Santacruz East, Mumbai
Contact: 022 6676 1234
Timings: Sunday to Saturday, 7:00 pm to 12:00 am
Price: Rs 4,600 onwards for two
All images: Courtesy Irfan Nabi