Last week, I found myself wading painfully for a full 95 minutes through mind numbing traffic, all the way through the IT hub of Hyderabad till Begumpet for dinner. I confess that several times during the drive I wondered why I was even making the trip and considered turning back. I realised that even if I turned back, I would be stuck in the same awful traffic trying to reach home and that it was a case of a lesser evil to continue onto Taj Vivanta where I was invited to meet their new (not really, he has been here for 3 months already) Executive Chef Jaffer Ali who comes to the city after a stint with the iconic The Rain tree at Vivanta by Taj -Connemara, Chennai.
By the time I was seated and given a drink, I forgot about my traffic woes and decided not to dwell on them anymore. The Grill is the pool side Alfresco restaurant of the property. Situated right in the heart of the city, opposite the iconic Hyderabad Public School at Begumpet and yet the setting will transport you to serenity, without the muffled sounds of traffic below.
The weather was pleasant, last bit of the Hyderabad waning winters, the singer was doing his best, some songs better than the others and there was the promise of some really good food.
The Sizzling BBQ nights is a mindfully curated menu. The selection of pre plated starters is a combination of Indian and International recipes. Some of which are the Executive chef Jaffer’s own innovations.
The meal started with Hyderabadi gosht marag, a uniquely Indian soup made from mutton, spices and yogurt. The weather is still pleasant to start your revering meal with a hot soup and this one hit all the right spots.
I tried the Tangdi Bhrawan Kebab, the chef’s special which was chicken drumsticks stuffed with spiced chicken mince, the spices not over powering but a distinct flavour of mace. It was so filling that I couldn’t finish the whole portion. Zaffrani Machi Shammi, a fish based interpretation of the classic Hyderabadi Shammi kebab was a little too dry for my liking.
There was also cajun spiced BBQ chicken winglets which were nice and juicy, delightful for chicken wing lovers and the mild and succulent Tali huwi Mahi Mahi. Filets of delicately marinated fish, pan grilled. I skipped the peri peri shrimp skewers which everyone loved due to a food allergy.
The grills come accompanied with an assortment of mint, peanut chutneys and pickled onions. My pick was the delicious garlic butter.
The vegetarian options included sigdi paneer,Cajun spiced vegetable skewers and a few others but by far my favourite was the melt in the mouth galouti kebab made out of elephant foot yam or suran (in hindi). It was very flavourful and the texture was superb. I had seconds of this one.
While declaring I had no place for the main course which was yet to come, I knew I was just too curious to not stuff myself.
The menu offers both Indian and continental main course options. Each of which was interesting, I picked the dum ka murg served with garlic naan. I cannot tell you how delighted I was with this dish. Honestly this eclipsed the BBQ sizzler as well. While dum ka murg is a very commonly appearing Hyderabadi dish, I have rarely come across a really well made one outside of a home kitchen. It is either spiced too much or too rich. This rendition was perfect in my humble opinion. The layers of flavour from the golden friend onions, cashew paste that is used to thicken the gravy and a delicate use of the spices, just to enhance the dish and not overpower it. This is a must try.
My fellow diners chose the spaghetti puttanesca which was also very good. Fresh flavours from the tomato and other vegetables. This is a good option if you are vegetarian.
There is the ubiquitous Hyderabadi chicken biryani and a garbanzo bean version for non meat eaters.
The dessert platter was a mixed bag. The innovative Palak halwa to me tasted like chyawanprash, heavy on the ghee and the difficult to mask spinach flavour. I liked the stewed apricots which is a nod to the khubaani ka meetha but the pick for me was the sublime rose icecream. It was delightfully fragrant and mild, just the right dose of sweet to seal the meal together.
The menu for both the sizzler appetisers course and main course changes every day for 4 days before being repeated. Attractively priced at Rs. 999 for the vegetarian and Rs. 1199 for the non vegetarian variants, this is an excellent price point if you are celebrating the weekend or want a quiet romantic dinner without the bother of having to make a la carte decisions about dinner. Make the best of the balmy Hyderabad evenings and head over to sample the fare.
Where: The Grill, Taj Vivanta, Begumpet
Date: Every evening, from 7:30 PM onwards
Price: Rs. 999 onwards
For reservations and more information: 040 – 6725 2626