It's true that we hardly know our own backyard, albeit unwittingly. This reviewer has whizzed past the Vashi railway station on the Palm Beach Road en route to home every single day, and yet, never spared a thought for the new signboard, atop a building, which announced the arrival of Moti Mahal's new restaurant Itihaas, which serves Indian and Mughlai cuisine. It was only much later, when invited for a review, that we got a chance to visit the restaurant and test whether it is a hidden gem in our backyard.
The Phirni is comfort food at its best while. Pics/ Sayyed Sameer Abedi
As we finally entered Itihaas, the whiteness of it all hit us. The walls were white, as were the tablecloths. The tiled floor was white too but by now, we loved the stark, clean look of the restaurant.
To start off the meal, we ordered the All Fruit Punch (Rs 200). The drink came with slices of pineapple, cherry and the promise of instant refreshment. Casting the fruits aside, which were perched on the rim of the glass, we took a sip of the drink and sighed. This slightly frothy concoction of pineapple juice, orange juice, mango juice juice and ice cream and grenadine syrup was sweet, alternatively tangy and adequately prepped us for the rest of the meal.
Moti Mahal’s white interiors lend it an elegant look
For starters, we choose the Dahi Ke Kebab (Rs 260) and Murg Tikka Chatpata (Rs 310). The vegetarian kebab, which is one of the restaurant's signature dishes, ended up wooing us. We sank a fork into the crusty kebab and delicious, thick hung curd began to spill out slowly into our plates. It combined the flavour of green chillies (which worked fabulously well with the curd), coriander leaves, onions and thinly sliced cabbage leaves. The Murg Tikka Chatpata — chicken pieces marinated with yogurt and spices and served on a sizzling plate — smelt delicious and was juicy, succulent and perfectly cooked.
The Dahi Ke Kebab are succulent. Pics/ Aayyed Sameer Abedi
For the main course, we ordered the Paneer Lababdar (Rs 300), Jhinga Handi (Rs 490) (both dishes are house specialties), Sada Basmati (Rs 150) and Tandoori Roti (Rs 30). Both dishes, however, failed to impress. The firm chunks of cottage cheese disappointed us. Taste-wise too, the dish did not bowl us over — we waited for the dish, with its spices, light brown, thick gravy and vegetables, to stun us. But sadly, it never did.
The size of the prawns in the Jhinga dish was unsettlingly large, at almost twice the size we were used to. Although the gravy is flavoursome with the right amount of masalas, ginger and coriander, the pieces itself failed to appetise, mainly due to the strong aftertaste of the meat in our palate.
For dessert, we ordered Gulab Jamun (Rs 129) and Phirni (Rs 194). The two, like all desserts should, left a smile on our faces — the supple gulab jamun's syrup was still hot when it made its way to our table, which made the dish all the more delicious. The phirni and its chopped nuts, which swirled in the thick, creamy liquid, warmed our hearts and took us back to our childhood. This was comfort food at its very best.
Although our meal at Itihaas had a couple of low points, the joint is definitely worth a visit for the starters and desserts alone.
We cannot rate the experience as it was an invitation.
At: 198-199 Haware Fantasia Business Park, plot no 47, Sector 30A, Vashi
Price: Rs 1,200-Rs 1,400 for two (without alcohol)