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    With specials like amrudi dakh and bajra khichdi, ITC Grand Chola launches its new menu.

    EVERY gourmand knows that it is never just about the food, but also the experience. Royal Vega, at the ITC Grand Chola, is precisely that—royal and grand. This is the only luxury restaurant in the city that is ‘honestly vegetarian’ and serves farmaishi food inspired by the royal kitchens of India. It is also strongly influenced by the ancient science of Ayurveda. The restaurant is reminiscent of the abodes of the country’s Maharajas. Everything is tastefully opulent and deliciously decadent at a number of levels. Chef Varun Mohan talks to us about the perennial dishes and seasonal special menus. We are here to sample the Hemant Ritu (winter menu) and the trip starts with a shrikhand ladoo exquisitely presented in a silver bowl.

    Point of Punjab
    This is going to be a three-course thali meal. First up is a cauliflower tikkiya, bhuni tarkari kofta and a delectable mattar paneer shufta. The bread component is a kacchi haldi kulcha that rounds things off perfectly. On the silver thali is a little katori with fresh white butter. This is hearty winter fare at its finest—the subtle flavors and sheer freshness of the produce impresses. The tikkiya explodes with the flavours of green spices and pudina.
    Next comes a course that transports one to the wintry plains of Punjab. Maanh chana and sarson ka saag with a classic makki di roti. The dal is easily one the best we have ever tasted and the roti carries the distinctive flavour of mool—it’s called the makai puulika. Scrumptious. The saag attains new levels of perfection with a dollop of white butter, too.

    Main attraction
    The final course showcases the innovative side of the restaurant, with an amrudi dakh, methi goli alu and khandavi kadhi with pithi poori. Also served up are a bajra khichdi and lavang chawal, and, as with every preceding course, the bar just gets raised higher. Baked guava in gravy? You bet! Those complex sweet and sour flavours just lift the whole dish. On the condiment side, the akshot redefines the way we look at raita.
    Desserts are kesari laklaki and a halwa made from atta. Chef Varun reminds us that all the flour and masalas are ground specially and specifically for the restaurant. The various little touches and details perfectly round off the whole ‘royal’ experience.

    Rs 2,850 plus taxes per head. Details: 49065272

    — Amar Devadason

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