There's nothing quite like mouth watering kebabs on the table, inviting you to take your pick. Then add good single malt to the menu. No prizes for guessing why we walked in 15 minutes early for our dinner at Kebabs & Curries, the fine dining restaurant at ITC Grand Central.
Whisky connoisseur and expert Sandeep Arora who has designed this special menu, believes that certain single malts go best with certain kinds of food.
And so, the menu is divided into three parts. We begin with the Glenlivet 12 YO on the rocks, a light and fruity single malt that we are told, goes well with tandoor or grilled items. We ask for the Tandoori Jhinga and Murgh Angaar, opting to skip the vegetarian options of Pudina Paneer Tikka and Tandoori Aloo.
I’ve always loved the Tandoori Jhinga here, so no surprises that I finish my share before my colleague can even dig his fork in. But the Murgh Angaar is an eye opener. Lightly spiced and tandoored, this goes delightfully well with the mild hazelnut aroma of the Glenlivet 12YO. Both tastes linger for a while, neither overpowering the other. A perfect mate for the Scottish giant from the North West Frontier!
And here’s the best part: Murgh Angaari is usually marinated with two spoons of pomegranate juice, but the more popular marinade is a few spoons of dark rum. Ah! Now we know why they mate well.
Next up on the agenda is the Glenlivet 15 YO. This is a rich, well-rounded single malt with a definite aftertaste of cinnamon. So we expect the heavy-duty curries that arrive in tow with equally heavy tandoori naans (Indian breads). Murgh Bemisal, the smoked chicken tikka in brown onion and tomato sauce doesn’t quite pass muster with me. Too creamy and too sweet to go with a full bodied single malt. But the Burhani Gosht stands out. The lamb chunks cooked in onion and yoghurt gravy and topped with garlic yoghurt, melts in the mouth with every sip of the 15YO. I am most upset when the tasting portion of the single malt renegades and runs out on me. Damn!
The Dal Bukhara, a perennial favourite here along with the Kekhashan (fresh veggies, tossed with whole red chilli in Kandahari gravy) remain almost untouched. I love both, but today’s not the day. The Dum Pukht Biryani is waiting as is the ace in the pack — the Glenlivet 18YO.
So we move to the next course quickly, but not before we go for a five minute walk around the restaurant, our feeble attempt at working up some appetite before the Biryani arrives. Back at the table, the 18YO is already awaiting our arrival. Somehow though, I don’t like the idea of whisky with rice. So a few spoons of the biryani later (mind you, the Dum Pukht here is one of the best you will get anywhere), I ask for another plate of the Tandoori Jhinga. It pairs almost magically with the oak finish of the rich and sweet Glenlivet 18. My friend who opts for the vegetarian version, manages to finish a bit more of the delicious tarkari pulao before getting another helping of the tandoori aloo. I taste it for the first time. Not bad at all, in fact it goes really well with the Glenlivet.
From a hardcore non-vegetarian, this is high praise!
By the time we get to the Yakuti (broken basmati rice and moong lentils cooked in milk and khoya), we are stuffed. The kebabs have lived up to their reputation at ITC and the single malt experience has been divine.
We wish this marriage all success and happiness.
Where: ITC Grand Central, Parel
When: Dinner, till March 31
Price: R3100 + taxes per person