Mumbai Food: Sample rustic Indian cuisine at this Bandra eatery
Chef Amninder Sandhu cannot keep her hands still. She hovers around in the open air kitchen, checking on kebabs roasting on a grill, smoking food, and adding final touches to dishes. The executive chef of the upcoming restaurant and bar, Arth, she is helping us discover that it is possible to find the meaning of life in a good plate of food.
On a rainy Mumbai evening, we seek comfort in melt-in-the-mouth Mutton Kakori Kebabs (Rs 425), with meat so tender, we want to whisper sweet nothings to it. We find our moment of bliss in Panipuri Explosion, the complimentary amuse bouche with varq-coated balls that melt at the touch to reveal tangy tamarind water, and mint chutney inside soft a white chocolate ball. It is pani puri gone rogue, and we love it.
Mutton Kakori Kebab
Black, white and gold
Arth is the fourth offering from Aallia Hospitality, the group that's given us One Street Over and Bastian. It's interiors have been designed by Gauri Khan. It wouldn't look out of place in a Bollywood film, with its spiral wooden staircase, dazzling mirrors, gold tones, Parisian lamps and crystal chandeliers, unfinished walls, and muted upholstery. We observe heavy gold embellishments all over. "For me, lighting is the most important [element] in creating atmosphere. Light also provides an expression of structure. I've used edgy kaleidoscopic lights downstairs, as it's a high energy area, while pendulum lights and chandeliers create a softer feel in the dining area," says Khan, who calls the style 'rustic chic'.
Two pendant installations - the Rex Diamond above the bar, and the Phylum pendant in the foyer - add a theatrical flourish to the space.
Bird in a Nest
"I liked the classic elegance and the touch of glamour the Rex Diamond installation adds to the corners.
The Phylum pendant is inspired by a water droplet suspended in ice, capturing a frozen moment in time - like memories one might create at a special meal," adds the interior designer.
Morrels Stuffed. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Romancing the stone
The meal at Arth is special, largely because everything is prepared in copper utensils, a sigri and soon, a sand pit. The kitchen is gas-free - they use charcoal and wood, and Sandhu uses the old techniques of slow cooking and smoking, to create delicious and modern Indian food.
The Morrels Stuffed (Rs 850), soft chunky bits of cheesy mushrooms served on a bed of crushed walnuts, fill our palate with umame goodness. The Chicken Silbatta Khatai Kebab (Rs 350) is tender, though a bit bland, with almonds and poppy seeds adding some warmth. Similarly, the Chargrilled Paneer (Rs 300) is aromatic and tender, but pales before the Mutton Kakori Kebab. The flaky bhetki in the Charred Fish (Rs 400) has a touch of citrus from the Kaaji lemon and an earthy hit from the activated charcoal crisp on it. The Fish Net (Rs 425) has us mesmerised, with its crispy rice net hiding a koshimbir-marinated flaky pomfret beneath. This, we mop up with fluffy soft ghavne.
Sandhu's food is prepared traditionally, but her plating is modern. Yoghurt Explosion comes to us served in a big oyster shell. Bird in a Nest (Rs 425) wins our vote for the prettiest plate of food. The black sesame chicken is tender and meaty, and sits on a nest of tasty and soft purple yam idiyappam.
On the side, we sip on Chill your Chai (Rs 550). The subtle milky flavour from the clarified masala chai, surprises us with how well it pairs with plain vodka. The Marigold Lady (Rs 550) is sweet, with floral and citrusy notes.
The lounge area
For dessert, we give the oily phyllo nests in the Angoori Rabdi (Rs 225) a miss, and pick the Mango Cornets (Rs 225) instead. The dessert contains tiny crisp, sweet cones filled with creamy yoghurt mellowing down the sweet juicy Alphonso mango bits.
On a tour of the kitchen, Sandhu shows us the grinding stones, the copper and brass utensils and the small brass tandoors specially built to accommodate coal cooking. "It's all been customised to my specifications," she says. "I'm waiting for the sand pit, so I can roast a whole goat in it." We look forward to it.
OPENS: June 21 time 12 pm to 3 pm; 7 pm to 12 am
AT: Pinnacle House, PD Hinduja Marg, Bandra (W).
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