Very rarely when we go out for a fine-dine, gourmet meal in the city do we eat Indian food. It’s usually the Oriental, Italian, Continental route that we pick instead of desi fare. There are a few establishments in the city that offer gourmet Indian fare may it be North Indian or South Indian food. Soma at the Grand Hyatt, Santacruz is one such restaurant that I’ve been wanting to visit since a while.
Having eaten at all of the Hyatt’s restaurants, each of which offer top notch food, Soma was yet to be struck off my list. I recently got the opportunity to dine at this restaurant that offers authentic Indian and North West Frontier province cuisine, as a part of their Punjab-Di-Shaan food festival. On from January 25th to February 15th, they’re serving up some delicious, authentic Punjabi street food and ghar ka khaana. Makkhan maar ke!
Soma is done up in the most subtle neutrals along with contemporary art murals that highlight the walls here. Very classy and simple unlike Indian restaurants. Also they have an open show-kitchen so that you can see your kebabs and have them too!
As a part of this Punjabi food promotion they’re offering a set menu for Rs. 2015 plus tax which gets you unlimited appetizers, soup, main course, Indian breads, dessert along with unlimited Black Label, domestic beers and wine. Worth it, if you’re looking to celebrate on a special occasion. We decided to opt for a la carte and eat our way through the menu, only for you. Here are the top five things I liked about my Punjab-Di-Shaan experience:
1. Lassi Jaisi Koi Nahi
A specially crafted Lassi menu (each priced at Rs. 325/-) that includes basics such as Rose lassi and Kesar lassi to the unusual Plum-Walnut lassi and Papaya-Vanilla lassi. If you’re in the mood for theatrics, ask them to bring out the lassi cart for you where the server creates a customized lassi concoction just for you. Imagine a lassi bar on wheels! After all no Punjabi meal is complete without lassi.
2. Attention to details, Hanji!
The small things that matter to making a meal memorable were all taken care of. Servers that knew their stuff, perfect ambiance complete with candles and flower petals. And I enjoyed the complimentary papad and chutney platter that kept us busy till the food arrived. Not to forget the paan at the end.
3. Karaare Kababs
North Indian fare is incomplete without the meaty kebabs and spicy chaat, both of which I enjoyed eating here. Special mention to the Bhatti da Murg (Rs. 645/-) which was the most succulent char grilled chicken, and the fiery Tandoori prawns (Rs. 865/-). The vegetarian kababs were average out of which the Bhutte De Kabab (Rs. 625/-) which were skewered corn-potato kebabs, was the pick of the lot. And if you’re willing to spend Rs. 550/- on a Dahi Bhalla, I promise you this will be the yummiest albeit most expensive dahi bhalla you would have ever eaten.
4. Maa Ke Haath ka Khana. Aur Dhaabe ka Khana
The mains we ate that night were hearty, robust flavors and typical Punjabi fare that we’ve all grown to love. Special mention to the Sarson da Saag (Rs. 725/-) which I’ve always found a bit overrated until now. I loved the creamy sarson which wasn’t the least bit bitter, and when paired with the Makkai di roti toppped with white butter, it emerged a winner. The Murg Makhani (Rs. 815/-) and the Punjabi Kadhi Pakode (Rs. 675/-) were both typically Punjabi tasting dishes, but really delicious. The Pyaaz Kesar da Pulao (Rs. 525/-) was a simple onion flavored rice that looked bland but was delicious enough to be eaten on its own. I had high hopes from the Dhabe di Dal (Rs. 435/-) but it ended up lacking the oodles of ghee that it should’ve had.
5. Meetha Sheetha, Hayo Rabba!
If you aren’t bursting by the seams yet, because Punjabi food can be really heavy, make way for dessert. Because no Indian meal can be complete without mithai or barfi or halwa or kheer of some sort. I enjoyed the good ol’ Gajar da Halwa (Rs. 475/-) and the Khajur de Kheer (Rs. 475/-). The latter may be too sweet for someone who is not a desert person. But my favorite was the melt in the mouth Amritsar di Barfi (Rs. 475/-) that came with creamy rabdi. Top notch!
Soma, Grand Hyatt, Off Western Express Highway, Santacruz East, Mumbai.
(The author dined at the Punjab-Di-Shaan festival on invitation, which is on from the 25th January to the 15th of February).