It’s really good to know that restaurants in the city are embracing the fact that diners have become more aware of what they eat. Gone are the days when people would just dine to have a 5 star experience. Nowadays they expect healthy food and have dietary preferences.
We were invited to Soma at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai few weeks ago and what we had wasn’t just great food but a look at how restaurants are going back to their roots, and serving wholesome, delicious, rich yet healthy Indian cuisine. Soma is known for its authentic specialties from North India and the North-West. The tandoor show-kitchen is the restaurant’s central feature giving diners a glimpse of how each delectable tandoori dish is prepared.
We were welcomed by Chef Vinod Rana and his team. At Grand Hyatt, you can be rest assured about the variety and the quality of food. Chef Rana promised to serve authentic Indian cuisine and signature specialties that were backed with thoughtful consideration and research. Soma boasts of serving traditional Indian food with flavours and recipes that are lost and forgotten. With their new menu, they’re looking at including more regions and cuisines from all over India. It is incredible how India has a vast variety of cuisines that are not only unique, but also different in its own way. Soma serves delightful set menus, customized thalis and has an exquisite a la carte menu – each offering personifying the legacy of Indian food, and the passion and expertise of Chef Rana.
The new menu that was served to us was carefully selected to ensure that we experience traditional Indian cooking at its best. With Chef Rana’s experience and recipes that have been perfected over the years we were in for truly an extraordinary feast.
Soma set the mood with their first dish, Achari Tandoori Jhinga – pickle marinated tiger prawns, cooked in tandoor. One could tell with the charred bits that the tandoor had done a wonderful job of cooking the prawns beautifully. It was spicy, tangy and got us salivating for more.
The next dish came with theatre, something that always enhances the dining experience and often adds oomph to the dish served. The Raan e Sikandari, a tandoor roasted leg of lamb marinated with traditional home-made spices. It was carved live at the table after being flambéed with rum. It was just too much to process at one time. Do we cheer with excitement at the look of the roasted leg of lamb that smelled heavenly or should we stay awestruck as it gets engulfed with a flame and is fragrantwith rum. It had everything a true meat lover could ask for. The chef didn’t even have to carve the meat as it just fell off the bone. The boozy meat that had hints of Indian spices became one of our favourites of the evening.
We then had the Rava Fried Fish, Murgh Hariyali Seekh, Tandoori Khumb and Mutter Hari Mirch Ki Tikki. The fried fish had a generous coating of semolina that covered the fish well, it was crisp but wasn’t seasoned well. The seekh was moist, flavourful and delicious and so was the tandoori mushroom but the Mutter Hari Mirch Ki Tikki stole the show; it was just perfect. Chef Rana shared that the secret of that dish was use of fresh peas; he said one would not get the same texture and scrumptiousness with frozen peas.
For mains Chef took us on a coastal trail with Malwani Chicken and Prawn Curries, the quintessential Fish Ambotik, and a very robust Sukha Mutton. The dark brown coconut mixture coated on succulent pieces of mutton just won our hearts. To compliment the dish, there were these amazingly flaky parathas that were kissed with poppy seeds, looked like peony clusters. With all the food that we had that evening, the vegetarian dishes that shone and left us with a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts were, Dum Aloo Bhojpuri, Baingan Bharta, Ghar Ki Bhindi and Dal Varan. The non vegetarian mains were really great but the simplicity of these vegetarian dishes truly won our hearts. With these dishes, chef Rana wanted to showcase how Indian cooking in its simplest form, works so well; even when it’s served at a fine dining restaurant. It’s not about just using high-end ingredients, but about using few to create something that’s healthy, comforting and wholesome.
The chicken biryani was fairly decent but the vegetarian Sabz Pulav was really good. We were eagerly waiting for the desserts to arrive. We were served dessert platters. It was a medley of indian desserts, picked to ensure that our evening ended on a sweet note. We were served a lovely Paan Kulfi with Gulkhand topping. It was yum. The in-house Malai Kulfi with sevai and sabja was creamy, the warm Gulab Jamun made our heads go weee with sugar rush, and the not so sweet but fragrant Kesari Ras Malai ensured that things didn’t go out of control. It was a perfect balance of hot and cold with difference levels of sweetness and variety of flavours. Our pick was the Paan ice-cream with Gulkhand which is definitely a must have. It was a perfect end to an awesome evening.
We enjoyed ourselves to the fullest when we are at Grand Hyatt, and now we can proudly say that we have had one of the best Indian meals of 2015, here at Soma. You can be rest assured to have an superb experience. The food here will not only touch your heart but also make you come back for more.