Review: Jamavar, The Leela Palace, New Delhi

So after last week’s review of The Food Mill or as some would say attempt of a review, I was asked by my sister to do this on a weekly basis. She doesn’t admit it but I am sure Stylecity.in got the highest number of hits that day. Anyway, this time she was extremely kind in that she wanted me to review Jamavar – the Indian restaurant at The Leela Palace in Chanakyapuri. This restaurant has been operational for a couple of years now and this week they had their first ever Kashmiri Food festival. Master Chef Vinod Saini assured me that there would be many such themed food festivals in the coming year. Why was I excited? Well even though I was born and raised in Delhi, my ancestors are from Himachal Pradesh which would make me a ‘Pahari’ and a proud one at that. And so from a young age I have had an extreme fondness for mutton. For those who do not know Kashmiri cuisine is mostly mutton based and the Wazwan (a multi course meal) preparation of that cuisine is considered a delicacy due to its tedious preparation that is considered an art form in itself.

Jamavar, Leela Palace, New Delhi

And so I walked into Jamavar and was highly impressed by its ambience and decor. Finally an Indian restaurant in Delhi that can give the other restaurants a run for their money solely based on grandeur. Honestly, with more and more hotels in Delhi going for restaurants with a Mediterranean base for their cuisine I feared that good Indian restaurants would cease to exist, being a huge Indian cuisine enthusiast I am so relieved that isn’t the case. So I asked a friend to accompany me for this review and even though she is vegetarian she claimed to have enjoyed the Kashmiri version of vegetarian food (don’t worry, the status of this friendship is being reviewed as I type this – I am embarrassed to have a vegetarian acquaintance who isn’t family).Now I am no stranger to Kashmiri food, I have been to Srinagar and eaten at Ahdoos, quite rightly proclaimed to be the connoisseur of the Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine. And in Delhi I have eaten at Ahad and Sons and Chor Bizzare, so little did the folks at Jamavar know whom they were dealing with. Having said that, Jamavar did not disappoint, as the quality, opulence and sumptuousness of our experience was remarkable. I would definitely return to this restaurant and try their usual Mughlai menu and hope for many more exotic food festivals that give us a taste of the various cuisines of our country.

Jamavar at The Leela Palace New Delhi

Now before reading further I should point out that this is exactly the kind of place where I feel a little intimidated, based solely on the grandeur. The place has modern interiors with traditional elements seamlessly imbibed together; with gold and brown colour scheme that is almost royal to the crystal chandeliers and grand couches- you instantly know you are in for a majestic experience.They started us off with a ghaant gobi ka achaar, and akhrot and mooley ki chutney to accompany our papad (papadam) and onions. My friend eloquently asked what is ghaant gobi to which all I could muster up was, it’s not really a gobi and doesn’t really have any knots. Not wanting to ruin my appetite by the unusual condiments they served, I eagerly awaited the mutton and specifically the Tabak maaz – a traditional Wazwan dish that is essentially deep-fried ribs. The Tabak Maaz did not disappoint and the Tali Machchi was supreme to say the least. On the vegetarian side of the table (yes, we drew a border) the Nadru Gular and Paneer Tikka was much appreciated. Moving onto the main course the Rista and Gushtaba have always been a favourite of mine. These are essentially finely kneaded minced meatballs and are extremely difficult to get right. Jamavar did a decent job on them but their Maaz Yakhni and Dhaniwaali korma were particularly good. On the other side as expected Jamavar provided a brilliant Haaq ka saag and Kashmiri Rajma, all of which went really well with the rice. Finally for dessert we were served a couple of types of halwas but my favourite by far was the phirni. Not too sweet and truly fresh – just the way I like it.

Now, after a quick chat with the Head Chef and Restaurant Manager we made our way out not before stopping for some meetha paan at the exit. The Manager made us aware that Jamavar has recently changed its children policy and now families are welcome to enjoy this delectable experience with the entire family. So in wrapping up it was quite a satisfying experience and I definitely plan on taking my family there, hope you do the same.

PS: There was a poem I penned for this review that did not make the final cut, I hope this comment does…

Price: Meal for two- Rs.3,000 without alcohol
Rating: Butter Chicken
Rating Scale: Tinda – 0, Idli – 1, Salad – 2, Butter Chicken – 3, Kakori Kebabs – 4, Grandmother’s cooking – 5

Jamavar, The Leela Palace, New Delhi

Dum aloo Kashmiri for 5 portions

Ingredients

Qty

Unit

Small baby potatoes

600

Grams

Asafetida

1

Pinch

Turmeric powder

1/2

Tsp

Kashmiri chilli powder

1

Tsp

Onion ( medium size)

2

No

Yogurt

2

Cup

Garlic paste

1 1/2

Tsp

Ginger paste

1

Tsp

Refined oil (for frying)

100

Ml

Salt

To taste

Fresh milk

1

Cup

For Masala
 Green cardamoms

3-4

No

 Clove

2-3

No

Coriander seed

1

Tbsp

Black cardamom

1

No

Black pepper corn

8-10

No

Saunf whole

1

Tsp

Cinnamon stick

1

No

Method:

  • Make a fine powder of all masala ingredients and keep aside
  • Remove the peels from potatoes and prick them
  • Fry all the potatoes till become golden brown
  • Add grated onion, Asafetida, Ginger and garlic paste till cook well.
  • Fry the mixture till the paste turns brown, add turmeric, chilli powder and salt.
  • Now pour the milk to make gravee followed by adding beaten yogurt
  • Stir continuously and add water if the gravee become thick
  • Add pricked and fried potatoes, simmer few minutes and serve with fresh coriander garnish

Tabak maaz for 5 portions

Ingredients

Qty

Unit

Mutton ribs

800

Grams

Water

750

Ml

Milk

750

Ml

Clove

2-3

No

Cinnamon stick( medium   size)

2

No

Turmeric

1

Pinch

Green cardamom

5-6

No

Black cardamom

2

No

Saunf powder

3

Tsp

Saunth powder

2

Tsp

Cloves of whole garlic

2-3

No

Desi ghee

200

Ml

Salt

As to taste

 

Method:

  • Cut the mutton ribs into the rectangle pieces and wash properly.
  • In a deep vessel pour milk and water.
  • Add clove, cinnamon ,green cardamom, black cardamom, black peppers, whole garlic ( Give a slight crush to all these spice) and put into the vessel with dry ginger, turmeric and Saunf powder.
  • Now add mutton ribs and give a proper boil.
  • Cook on medium heat till Ribs become very soft and cook well.
  • Once the ribs cook well remove the meat pieces one by one with the tong that they don’t break.
  • Take a separate frying pan  heat the desi ghee and shallow fry one by one till it become crisp and golden in color

Nadru Yakhani for 5 portions

Ingredients

Qty

Unit

Lotus stem

800

Grams

Plain yogurt

600

Grams

Mustard oil

100

Ml

Black cardamom

4-5

No

Green cardamom

4-5

No

Green chilli slit

2-3

No

Shahi jeera

1

Tsp

Saunf powder

2

Tsp

Bay leafs

2

No

Cinnamon

2(medium size)

No

Clove

2-3

No

Ginger powder

1

Tsp

Sugar

1

Pinch

Salt

As to taste

Water 200(for boiling)

Ml

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a thick bottom pan add bay leaf, green cardamom, black cardamom, Shahi jeera, cinnamon and water .
  • Add lotus stem simmer around five to eight minute
  • Whisk the yogurt, add into the boiled lotus stem give a proper boil till it become ticker, add salt and a pinch of sugar if need.

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