#Review: A Buffet Fit for the Nawabs at JW Café

The Fables of Lucknow festival will take you on a culinary course where you can enjoy the food of the Nawabs


The quaint JW Café tucked away in Mumbai’s JW Marriott Sahar has a lavish dinner spread every day. From dedicated soup, salad and sushi counters to a live counter for pastas, noodles and many others, it offers just about everything that a patron would expect. To satisfy all your kebab cravings, this month they have included Lucknowi elements to their dinner offer. Called Fables of Lucknow, the special royal menu has been curated by chefs Waris and Shanawaz Qureshi, with their heirloom recipes, conventional cooking techniques and use of clandestine spices.

The Kebab Corner
We kick-started this gastronomic journey with the adequately spiced Murgh Mumtazi Shorba, which cleared our throat and whet our appetite for the Kebabs. Sip on it slowly and let the spices warm your mouth. Then, we wasted no time and made our way to the Galouti Kebabs. They were being made fresh at the live counter, and the chef was quite generous with the ghee; and the aroma made some of the other guests at the café take notice and follow suit to order these kebabs. The Galouti Kebabs were served with tawa roti. The kebabs, as expected, melted in our mouth. The spices were subtle. The Seekh Kebab was also delightful, and the hung curd-marinated Murgh Charbagh Tikka was flavourful and had a delicate smoky taste thanks to the clay oven that it was roasted in.

The vegetarian offering was a clear weak link. The Shakarkand-Hare Mutter ki Tikka and the Paneer Til Tikka were disappointing, especially the latter because as you bit into the cottage cheese, the flavours disappeared—clearly the paneer hadn’t been immersed in the marinade long enough for the flavours to bloom.

The Rotis
The Sheermal was the hero in this category. Delicately laced with saffron, every bite was soft and fresh. Since it has a hint of sweetness, it serves as the perfect contrast to spicy curries and meats. In our opinion, the Sheermal paired perfectly with just about anything, from Dal Makhani to Macchi ka Salan and Bhindi Kalimiri. As we broke into the aristocratic Taftan, hues of saffron and cardamom were prominent. It was light and comforting, so you could nibble on it, or pair it with a curry. The layered Warqi paratha was a bit flaky, but paired well with the Koh-e-Awadh Cashewnut and the Murgh Baradari Korma.

The Mains
The Murgh Dum Biryani and the Vegetable Dum Biryani were both cooked to perfection—and were the stars on this Awadhi menu. A common thread that we noticed about this Lucknowi menu was that most dishes carried subtle spices and the flavours were delicate—no one flavour or spice was overpowering.

In the main course, the Dal Makhani, drizzled with ghee and cream, was clearly one of the best that we have had in a while. The Macchi ka Salan made with freshwater Tilapia was slightly spicy, but delectable, and we coupled it with steamed rice. In the Murgh Baradari Korma, the chicken was succulent and the gravy was aromatic; and the Koh-e-Awadh Cashewnut was very Paaya-like. But lamb trotters isn’t fit for a Nawab, so it is clear that lamb shanks were used in this Awadhi specialty. The result was meatier and the lamb stock was heavenly.

The Uttari Lasooni Saag—spinach tempered with lots of garlic, ginger, onion and green chili—was yummy. So was the Paneer Birbali—cubes of paneer cooked in a lip-smacking cashew-onion gravy, the highlight of this preparation is the distinct flavour of Awadhi spices, all freshly-pounded. From the vegetarian fare, the Bhindi Kalimiri was a pleasant surprise—understated but delicious.

The desserts
We were told that the dessert counter offered traditional Awadhi sweetmeats like Shahi Tukra, Ande ka Halwa, Malai Phirni and Khajoor aur Badam ka Halwa. Unfortunately for us, they were over by the time we were ready for dessert. Disadvantages of being a slow-eater, I guess. Make your assumptions considering that the bowls were polished clean!

Where: JW Café, JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, Near the International Airport
When: 6th September to 20th September, 2017 | 7.00 pm – 11:00 pm
Wallet alert: INR 2,199 + taxes


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