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Back with a bang

This Pan Indian restaurant has all the ingredients to make it stand apart from the crowd... as long as it doesn’t go wrong with the basic flavours.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2010 02:06 IST

Everything in the ambience screams ‘India’ as I enter Baluchi, the signature restaurant at Hotel Lalit, which has recently re-invented itself in a brand new avatar. Grey and black granite dominates the décor of the 138-cover restaurant that has brass handis placed at several places to add the quintessential Indian touch. Lively classical Indian instrumental music plays in the background, albeit a bit louder than one would like.

It strikes you as a bit odd to see a wine cellar in a completely Indian restaurant but then, as you later discover, the USP of the place is to serve wines that enhance the spices, herbs and flavours of the pan Indian cuisine that the place prides itself on.

The menu begins with a selection of refreshing beverages, of which a friend swears by Kokum ka Sherbat (Rs 250), with a lovely roasted cumin flavour. On a hot summer afternoon, however, I stuck to the good ol’ chilled beer. Interestingly, the beverage menu also lists Banta Bottle (Rs 200), reminiscent of the typical roadside drink one survived on, during campus days.

Opting to try the vegetarian fare that day, we chose Gucchi aur safed mushroom ki galouti (Rs 900) for starters. The galouti kebabs tasted well, with the precious white mushroom smoked in clove emitting a characteristic flavour, but were not as ‘melt-in-the mouth’ soft as the dish is known to be.

Coming back to décor, don’t miss checking out the washroom. With a large wall-sized mirror looming over river washed grey tiles, the bathroom décor looked amazingly earthy and starkly elegant.

The affable serving staff then brought us the main course we ordered — Spicy Gatta curry (Rs 400) and Fish Balchow (Rs 850). The former was pronounced ‘quite alright’ by my vegetarian companion, despite my insistence that it left an unidentified bitter aftertaste in the mouth.

The fish, described in the menu as a ‘tangy’ preparation, which is expected out of a coconut chilly curry from the coastal belt, was a tad disappointing — purely because it seemed too heavy on the masalas that overshadowed any attempt at getting the tangy taste.

Although we had ordered for tandoori rotis and lahsooni naan as accompanying breads, the courteous staff also brought us a platter of Hindustani and Morrocan breads (Rs 150) to try out. I can’t thank them enough for it.

The flaky Pheni Parantha, Bakar Khani, Gilafi Kulcha and Besan ki Roti — all in mini sizes — were simply excellent. But the best was reserved for dessert. Don’t miss out on the Paan Kulfi (Rs 250); the betelnut flavour added a wonderful finishing touch to the meal.

All in all, Baluchi is trying really hard to position itself differently in the Pan Indian segment and they have the right ingredients to do it, only if a little care is taken to not go wrong with the basic flavours.