Review: Bukhara, Delhi (North Indian- Mughlai)
ITC Maurya, Sardar Patel Marg, New Delhi. Ph # +91 2611 2233
It’s almost a legend on its own, with a fame that crosses borders, a list of accolades too long to recount and a list visited international dignitaries and celebrities that’s even longer, perhaps unlike any other restaurant in the country.
Having lived up to its standing reputation for more than three decades, the restaurant remains untouched by time, it time and again appears on the list of top restaurant’s to visit in India, just Google and you’d know.
And it was after three long years of tracing the food trail that I finally dare write a piece on Bukhara and I must mention that I had to return empty handed twice in last three months for the queue at the restaurant was longer than my tummy could bear. This once we got lucky, but then one can hardly do anything about it as the restaurant takes no reservation for dinner.
The old world rustic charm is not washed away with time; the décor is simple, rustic and low seating with a view of the open kitchen. The old world hospitality is further affected by the brass tumblers, the attire of the staff and how one is encouraged to eat with hands, yeah no cutlery unless you insist on one.
The formula of success perhaps remains the absolutely precise menu that has been maintained that way intentionally over the years. It’s just six items for vegetarian and ten for the non vegetarians, all from the tandoor, with a small selection of breads and finally some classic north Indian desserts.
All that have been written above is a fact, stated and known lets then move on to the experience, our experience. It’s strictly north Indian ‘Mughlai’ restaurant, please prepare yourself in advance for the heavy, hearty food.
Since we were four carnivores on the table to share our meal we ordered a portion of each, Barrah Kebab and Sikandari Raan, both famous and highly recommended by the food grapevine. The celebrated Dal Bukhara is almost compulsory and so we called for it alson with the Naan Bukhara. The naan bukhra is a giant size of a naan, and it must take a genius to cook it to perfection, I mean handling that size of bread alone would be a task. So unfortunately the first naan bukhra that was served had gone a little too crisp and when we complained it was immediately replaced by a new fresh one, much softer. So the dinner is only one course, I mean just one main course and desserts, and thank god for that as we went on eating and eating and yet could not finish all that was on the table. Four of us together could do justice to less than half of the naan. The food was delicious, the Sikandari raan, not quite a piece of raan though, was tender, nicely flavoured, and smoky. The Barrah kabab was also tender, juicy and fire-grilled to perfection, and what can I say about the daal, it is a celebrity on its own just make sure you have it while it is warm.
The meal is scrumptious and heavy, so some good cocktails from the bar comes handy in helping it smooth down to the belly, specially the signature Delhi High 5 or Cosmopolitan are a few good options.
It’s a legend and yet I daresay, it’s not a restaurant I’d long to go back to. It’s rather like a historic monument of food that you have to visit once, savour all it has to offer and be done with it. Well, that could be just me talking, the one who am not a great fan of ‘Mughalai’ cuisine in general. Not denying that the Barrah kebab and the Sikandari raan were at their best, succulent, juicy and delicious but that’s not my kind of food perhaps. Good for a change but not a thing I’d like to repeat over and again. But, you must visit Bukhara nonetheless, if only once for the sake of experience. Please be warned, the bill will burn a whole in the pocket as it stood at Rs 12,000 (including taxes ) for a meal for 4 including 3 cocktails and a soft drink. That’s perhaps the price you pay for experiencing something World-known.