I hate to draw comparisons between restaurants because each Chef brings something unique to the table. However, I’d be omitting facts if I didn’t confess that the only way I even came to know of Jodhpur Royal Dining, let alone felt a tingling need to try it out a.s.a.p, was when my friend Fathima insisted that it’s better than Tresind and Carnival By Tresind. Fathima has a seasoned palate and this was a claim not to be taken lightly, especially since Tresind group has always impressed me in more ways than not, so when I headed over to Jodhpur Royal Dining a couple of weeks to put this claim to test.
First of all, I went there with my extremely finicky, nearly-impossible-to-please friend, so the pressure was on. We got dropped off at the main entrance of the hotel, but it turns out you need to go back out, walk down a flight of stairs, then go through a loading dock of some sort before finally reaching a garden which houses Jodhpur Riyal Dining (and a couple of other restaurants).
The friend I went with is a vegetarian by preference, and the chef was extremely kind enough to simultaneously serve us a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian option for each course.
Here’s what we had:
Amuse Bouche: this was pretty much a puff pastry with an herb yogurt dip and was a pretty underwhelming start to the meal.
Pina colada: probably inserted into the glass through a funnel, but the flavor was spot on.
Passion fruit and mango mocktail. A tad too sweet for my liking.
Amuse Bouche; Channa chaat flavored macarons. This was without a doubt the most creative rendition of the channa chaat– or at least all it’s flavors. This macaron will send ALL other macarons home. Words cannot do justice to how perfectly orchestrated this was.
Beef short ribs sous vide for 8 hours, then lightly fried before being tossed in a tamarind, chili and aam papad reduction. Simply wow. The meat was so tender it was almost falling apart.
Desi Pesto Kabab with raisin malai and popcorn chutney. The pesto bit was a combination of basil, coriander and green chilies, and the raisins and cream cheese were stuffed in the middle. I couldn’t really taste the popcorn in the chutney on top, and I’m not a fan of raisins but this kabab was as good as the best meat kabab I’ve ever had– if not better. This was so, SO good, it’s almost cruel.
Laban and Ricotta Kabab. What I loved about this was its simplicity, and how the vibrant beetroot chutney encircling it was more for aesthetics than to take away from the stardom of the kabab. The dried rose ash encrusted kabab itself was entirely creamy and needed no sauce.
Achari Jheenga. This was a special one. This prawn was marinated in lemon pickles that are 60 years old, straight from Chef Pradeep’s grandmother’s pantry! Now if that doesn’t proclaim the chefs love for the food he’s putting on your plates, nothing will. I love my grandma more than anyone in the world, so I can understand what a big gesture it is to share your grandmother’s handmade 60 year old pickles with someone! 60 years!! That’s twice as long as I’ve been on this planet!
In case you’re wondering, we are still on the starters but pretty stuffed by now! This was the Adees Chaat, which comprised of a moong dhal base and topped with the standard chaat toppings. The dhal lover in me clicked her heels with joy.
More vegetarian AWESOMENESS! Everytime I go to an Indian restaurant, I understand why so many Indians are vegetarians: because they make veggies taste even better than meat! This was the Tandoori Mattar Kulcha, stuffed with a spicy, tamarind based pea chaat of sorts.
Mango, cranberry and kaffir lime sorbet. The little pressure cookers these were served in were extraordinarily adorable, however they had no connection with an iced sorbet nor did they add any value to the dish, and to me that’s not cute or clever, but rather unnecessary. Tactics to make food more “instagrammable” are becoming far too common in too many restaurants and it’s getting old.
Main Courses (finally!):
Jheenga Chettinad with a crispy parmesan cracker. Not my favorite “coconutty” South Indian prawn curry, but a strong contender.
Miniature Pav Bhaji with Batata Vada. Now this was cute. The miniature vadas made sense. And the pav bhaji was as good as any pav bhaji can be. At this point I wanted to cry, because I was so full, but the food was so delicious, so my stomach was screaming “Stop, for the love of God, STOP!”; but my mouth was all “keep it coming, there’s room for everyone in here”.
This. This is the best Kulcha I’ve ever had. It’s called “Chur-Chur” kulcha, because it’s torn into pieces, and the logic behind it is to make people (especially kids) lose count of exactly how many kulchas/rotis they’ve eaten; which is smart because one can easily have a dozen of these crispy savory babies stuffed with cottage cheese, onions, chilies and cumin seeds.
Zaatar naan, another reason for The Battle of Stomach vs Mouth.
This dessert had nothing to do with Indian cuisine but when it comes to desserts, that’s a very very good thing. This Lotus Biscoff treacle tart with salted butterscotch icecream is Jodhpur’s move to stay relevant with the Lotus loving fad that is sweeping this nation. SO much yum.
The iconic jalebi tree with firni dip. It’s a shame I’m not a fan of traditional Indian desserts.
The main question: was my super-finicky and impossible-to-please friend impressed by Jodhpur Royal Dining? She was floored, and to be quite fair, so was I. The food was heartfelt, comforting, and absolutely sublime. Everything was beautifully seasoned and layered with flavors but the main ingredients always shined through. This is the kind of place that would make my husband very happy, for he always wants to taste the meat and not just the masala. Writing this review has reminded me of what a satisfying meal this was and now all I want from life is the Chur chur Kulcha.