Mumbai: Try this Vashi restaurant for a truly royal experience
Vashi's new fine dine draws inspiration from royal forts
Rajasthani mirchi wada stuffed with potatoes. Pics/Sameer Markande
Last July when restaurateurs Nishant Mohatta, Rahul Kharat, Kirtiraj Singh and Mohinish Chawla stood inside a rundown shop at Sector 12, Vashi, which they had just bought from a friend, they saw potential in the disarray. "We felt it could be metamorphosed into a castle-like fine-dine restaurant, given it is housed in a quaint three-storeyed building with latticed windows," says Chawla, who also co-owns Lion's Dhaba at Lonavla. The quartet was clear that the restaurant, in alignment with its architectural theme, would serve royal Indian cuisine. The restaurant opens to public on April 12.
Mohinish Chawla, Rahul Kharat and Nishant Mohatta
The regal elements at the Qilaa de Vashi are hard to miss. Spread over 3,000 sq feet, the lower floor, titled 'The House of Commons' is dotted with ornate chandeliers and mirrors along with woodwork panels. The furniture is draped in shades of rich gold, turquoise and tangerine. A spiral staircase then takes you up the top floor called The Royal Dawat which is lined with private booths and blue walls with handmade paintings of queens in Rajasthan. Turns out, the paintings are a handiwork of Chawla's wife, Mansi. "They are her interpretation of what the kings and queens might looked like," he says. During the research phase, the team pored over online material available on Indian cuisine served in palaces across the country. They even made trips to Rajasthan to see forts and get a sense of ground reality. "When we say forts, people think in terms of warfare. But there were residential forts as well. These were smaller, intimate and colourful," says Kharat. Through their network, the team sourced over 200 recipes from various descendants of khansamas (royal cooks) who then revealed a few secrets of royal cuisine.
Amrit-e-Qilaa (Rs 200), a rich milkshake with almonds and pistachio
The major difference between regular Indian food and that made for the royals lies in the lengthy process involved in creating each dish. "For instance, we found that in the royal families in the north marinate meat in bhadka mirchi and other spices overnight to make the mutton deeply spicy," he says. Another interesting discovery was the kairsangri and kachri, a sweet and sour spice used to make chutney.
The menu, therefore, includes several tedious preparations like the gosht shorba (R170), a traditional spicy preparation of mutton trotter simmered overnight and finished with fresh ground spices. There's also the chicken nargis kebab (Rs 280), a famous Mughlai delicacy where there chicken koftas are fried with egg coating. A quick browse through the menu is enough to tell you that the options tilt more in favour of non-vegetarians. But for vegetarians, there's the gajar shorba (Rs 150), a delicious spicy carrot soup with coriander and pepper and the Rajasthani mirchi wada (R240), a long, spicy chilli served with mint and tamarind chutney. In drinks — there's no alcohol just yet but in the pipeline - there's Amrit-e-Qilaa (Rs 200), a rich milkshake with dry fruits. Despite the area being dotted with Indian eateries, the owners felt there was a gap to fill. "The best part about Vashi is that people are open to experimenting," says Chawla.
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