Name: Rajdhani, Rajwar festival
Location: Phoenix Market City, Kurla
Date of Visit: 15th September 2012 (lunch)
Why I would prefer going to Rajdhani over other Thali places in Mumbai? It is because of their delectable sweets. The sweets at Rajdhani have won the battle of Thalis for me. It was a good thali until I had the sweets, and then it crossed the line to extraordinary. We were visiting the Phoenix Market City, Kurla branch of Rajdhani on invitation. While this branch is far, far away, the food of Rajdhani has always been promising so we didn’t mind the travel. Although if I were you, I would go to the branch closest to work or home since the all branches of Rajdhani are running this festival till the end of this month.
Rajwar Festival as a Concept
The Rajwar festival is conceptualized around the food served to Royalty and therefore offers richer food with more number of items compared to the standard thali in Rajdhani. The servers are also dressed in Royal-style uniforms. The festival attempts to bring Royal style of cooking to your table. The fragrance of pure desi ghee in all of their food is testimony to the food of the Royals.
Are both available? During the Rajwar festival, the standard Thali of Rajdhani is not available.
Regular versus Rajwar
(Please Note the Pricing is subject to the Kurla outlet, different Rajdhani outlets have different pricing.)
Regular was for Rs.325 (Kurla) – It consists of a variety of vegetables, dals, kadhi, breads and sweets. The number of items is fewer in comparison with the Rajwar Thali and a welcome drink is not served as part of the meal.
Versus Rajwar Thali for Rs. 375 (Rs. 425 for dinner and on Weekends) - Consists of 5 or 6 more items than the standard thali. It includes an extra starter, a welcome drink, jalebi, malpua and rabdi, new fruit halwas such as apple, chikoo and pineapple have been introduced, Phirni has been included, one extra vegetable is also served in the Rajwar thali. Gatte ki sabzi and Dal Bati Churma which are otherwise rotating items on the menu, will be served on all days throughout the festival. It also includes a refreshing pan shot at the end of the meal which was yummy!
There is no point in me mentioning each chutney or farsan served on the thali. I am just going to tell you the great dishes from the disappointing ones.
Chikoo halwa – lightly sweetened, this chikoo flavoured halwa was not too heavy on the stomach, nor was it dominated by the ghee in it. It was light and beautifully flavoured. I wouldn’t have tried it if everyone at the table weren’t raving about it already.
Malpua & rabdi – Out of this world! The texture of these tiny malpuas crisp on the sides, soft in the center dipped in light sugar syrup, smeared with rabdi. The extraordinary thing about this dish was that from the looks of it, it seems too sweet and heavy but it is so smartly executed that all you experience is the wonderful flavours and texture in your mouth. It is unlike other experiences where in you feel that your tongue will stick to your palate with the sugar in it. This was the Star dish of my meal.
Kadhi – plain kadhi usually has limited scope for note worthy flavours. The thickened buttermilk was flavoured with a little ghee giving the kadhi so much character.
Masala Khichdi – with some vegetables and lots of ghee this khichdi was much better than regular khichdi.
Lasan Chutney – very spicy, lip smacking and delicious.
Batata Sukha Bhaji
Hari Moong Dal – was flavoured with spices.
Phirni – was good, not too sweet.
Biscuit bhakri; it is interesting concept, but doesn’t work on the grains used to make bhakri. I have eaten other biscuit forms of bread, this one was very hard to bite. I didn’t enjoy it.
Shahi Gatta – the gatta was too dense and unappetizing. I liked the gravy of this dish.
Churma – lack of flavour made it seem like an unmotivated cook prepared the churma.
Dahi bada – was also too dense and not palatable.
Patra – was also very dense and lacked flavour.
It is worth mentioning that the Rajdhani group intends to maintain the cost of the Thali at Rs. 375 even after the festival, as mentioned to me by Mr. Aji Nair who is the F&B Vice-President with Rajdhani. It is only fair since with the amount of pure ghee added to the food. We were also taken into the kitchen where food is freshly prepared in batches, with good quality ingredients in a hygienic space. With the prices of food, fuel and other items rising, it is unfair to expect restaurants to be serving food at the same old price without compromising the quality.
Some popular items of the festival are also likely to feature in the standard thali after the festival ends. If you were planning a trip to Rajdhani, it would be a smart decision to go for the Rajwar festival for the extra items and richer and tastier food. The price of the standard thali may or may not be the same as it was earlier.
Service – In my experience, traditional Thali restaurants have the best and the most courteous service compared to other restaurants. The true meaning of Indian hospitality and culture is reflected in their service. On my previous visit to Rajdhani I found the servers to be polite, courteous and prompt. On this occasion the service was exceptional, however, I will except this aspect of the review since we were there to review this festival on invitation.
The service staff has also developed their own sign language to interact with each other to bring a particular item to the table. Using these signs reduces chaos, confusion and loud noises in the restaurant. It was interesting to watch them interacting in their ‘thali’ language.
Do I recommend a visit to the Rajwar festival? Yes, for the malpua, rabdi and jalebi, which were out of this world. I am not a sweet tooth and neither am I a big fan of malpua or jalebi. Most of the time I prefer to skip the sweet course, so believe me when I say it was gorgeous. It was so good, that me, a ‘no-sweet-for-me’ person loved it. Sweet tooth or no, you must try their new range of desserts in the Rajwar festival and that is the thing about this place. With many tasty items in this selection I intend to visit again, this time with family.