Food review: Reviving Rajasthan’s authentic taste in Shangri La
What caught my eye the most at Tamra was how passionate the chef was about her food, how hard she’s trying to revive the “traditional” taste of Rajasthan in the NCR that’s now more global than local
A jam-packed restaurant is not what you expect on a Thursday at 12:30 in the afternoon. Even if it’s a buffet! But that is Tamra at Shangri La, on Delhi’s Ashoka Road.
What can only be described as a “high society” vibe, the restaurant has a huge variety of cuisines, from a teppanyaki counter, to a sushi bar, to a Middle-Eastern and salads corner, and then of course, the ever favourite, desserts section.
The new feature at Tamra is a regional food pop-up, where home chefs get to put up their live counters in collaboration with an app called Chef Pin. The pop-up currently set up there is by chef Surbhi Bhandari from Gurgaon, who brings the taste of Marwar to the capital city.
The feast starts with Raab, which is a kind of a prebiotic drink, made with curd and flour. Sour and with a charcoal-like flavour, the drink is very cool, but it might not be to everyone’s taste, because of the very distinct charcoal-ish aftertaste.
Next in line was the Jodhpuri Kofta, which surprisingly had a beetroot, pomegranate, and potato filling. While the pomegranate gave it a sweet taste, the spices balanced the kofta’s texture and flavour perfectly. Had I known what the filling was, I would have been apprehensive about trying it, because the combination does sound a bit whack, but it turned out to be a pleasant experiment.
As someone who strongly dislikes even the much-loved “gulab jamun and vanilla ice cream” combo, I personally could not believe myself liking a dish that was literally Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi. I hear you and I resonate with your sentiment that gulab jamun is pious and should not be goofed around like this, but this Jodhpuri dish charmed me away. Though it’s traditionally supposed to be spicy and tangy, the dish here did have a subtle sweet flavour.
Growing up in a Sindhi household, I’ve had papad with every meal for the last 22 years. So, obviously, when I see a dish called Papad Methi ki Sabzi being served, I’m taken a bit aback. But just as the other dishes surprised me, this one did as well. The combination of the moong dal papad and dry green methi was interesting, to say the least.
The one thing that could be set apart from everything else on the menu was the curry. Unlike all the other dishes, which were sweet (even if in the slightest), this was the one thing that was a little spicy in a good way. Also distinctive about the curry was the fact that it was very thin and cool.
The Dal ki Kachori and Korme ki Puri were homely and reminded one of the famous JMD Bhandar in Udaipur (the JMD one is absolutely superior, without a doubt).
There was one thing that I’m unable to make up my mind about and it was the highlight of the Marwari menu, the Chakki ki Sabzi. While the dish was chewy and had a texture like soya (something I’m not big on), the gravy was sumptuous and gave it a very unique taste. It tastes like the everyday food you have at home, but the flavours get elated with each bite. Something that lingers on even after a while!
The sweet dish wasn’t much to write home about. The Karba was just a spin-off of kheer and tasted more sour than sweet. Traditionally it is eaten with the Korme ki Puri for a sweet-salty combo.
What caught my eye the most at Tamra was how passionate the chef was about her food, and how hard she’s trying to revive the “traditional” taste of Rajasthan and Marwar in the NCR that’s now more global than local. So much so that she sources a lot of her ingredients from Jodhpur itself to maintain the authenticity of the food. The moong dal ka papad, the gulab jamun, the chakki, and the green dried methi had all been brought from Rajasthan especially.
Bhandari also explained that while Marwar might be synonymous with Dal Baati Choorma for a lot of people, it is actually these traditional dishes that are to this day prepared in homes. They are not only perfect for summers because they have a very light taste, but also because these things are sometimes the only ones available in summer, what with the lack of green leafy vegetables in Rajasthan.
Our verdict: The food was good, without a doubt, but we’re not sure if this is something that we’d personally go out to eat. I mean, unless you’re super-rich, would you really go to an elite place to eat homely food, when you have the option to eat fancy, exotic dishes under the same roof?
(Views are personal)