Iftaar treats

Souk at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel has curated a special Ramadan Iftaar menu for patrons and guests interested in enjoying (and breaking their fast with) a middle-eastern fare of kebabs, rice dishes and dainty desserts. We start off with the laban (or labneh) – which is a yoghurt-based drink with spices, much like the Indian lassi or buttermilk but with stronger flavours and hints of garlic – and fat, juicy dates and dry fruits. Next up was the mezze with hummus and moutabel, a cold fattoush salad, falafels and lamb sambousek. The hummus was creamy and light, the salad was tangy and palate-cleansing and the sambousek could be easily snacked upon at any time of the day. The soup course came in with a mildly-spiced chicken shorba, a heavy lamb shorba and the excellent lentil shorba which is a part of the restaurant’s regular menu. Ask for extra caramelized onions. The kebab platter follows with the sheesh tawouk, regular dajaj grills, parsley-flavoured lamb kebabs and spicy basa fillets grilled to perfection. The main course has an excellent chicken kabsa and a dry lentil rice (depending upon individual taste) which are served with a lamb and okra stew and a mild chicken broth. The flavours complement each other well and make for a fine ending to a meal. For those who prefer bread, the basket includes middle-eastern regulars like khuboos, zaatar and harissa naans. The dessert menu has three beautiful options. Start with the omali – a wonderful marriage of puff pastry and rabdi – and then move up to a succulent baklava and then some crunchy fried semolina and cottage cheese sweetened with sugar syrup. The Iftaar spreads are priced at 2,500 and 2,700 INR depending on choice of the fish dish.

Fit for a king

The food of the Nawabs is quite possibly the richest among Indian cuisine, and ends up being avoided at light lunches and regular weeknight meals. But if Ramzan has put you in the mood for a feast, head to Neel, where the special menu features a mix of inventive dishes and some staples that are best not tampered with.

We definitely recommend the Kofta-E-Sheek, made with chargrilled lamb mince. The Chooza Bhatti Tandoori is one of those failsafe options you’ve got to order. Vegetarians, get the Paneer Till Tikka, but don’t forget to ask for a heartier crust of sesame, which gives it a lot more flavour.

There’s a reason why nihari and haleem remain the best known Muslim dishes after all these years – they’re unbeatable when cooked right. And Neel doesn’t fail on this count. Their Purane Chawk ki Nihari is spicier and tangier than most versions we’ve tried, and we aren’t complaining. The Nizami Haleem is a comforting dish, with the best cooked mutton we’ve had in a long time, and so will you.