The Falaknuma Palace whose name translates to ‘Like the Sky’ is truly a sight to behold. The structure, which stuns with its intricate marble work, frescos, woodwork and magnificent chandeliers, was home to the erstwhile Nizams. The Nizam was an avid traveler, and his influences show in the architecture. The Taj spent close to 10 years in a painstaking effort to restore the palace and have it converted to a boutique property. Should you want to experience the life of a king a visit to the Taj Falaknuma is a must.
The property, amongst other unique epicurean experiences, has Adaa, a fine dining Indian restaurant, serving eclectic Indian cuisine with a local menu and some heirloom recipes handed down by the Nizam’s family. Rated as one of the top 100 restaurants across the world, we get talking to Chef. Sajesh Nair, the executive Chef of the property who tells us that the food is made traditionally but has a contemporary twist (both in terms of flavours and presentation).
We were the recipients of the warmth and grace of Chef. Nair in addition to what we ordered sent us a sampler of their vegetarian menu. Here’s a peek into what we ate:
Makai Badam Ka Shorba: A beautiful puree of corn and almond flavoured with Potli Masala and Indian spices. We felt the aroma of fresh ground corn in the steam from the soup. Popcorn is used as a garnish giving the soup a nice funky and modern touch. A spoonful of this with crunchy bits of corn perfectly whets our appetite for everything else in store.
Dahi Ke Kebab: A kebab of hung curd, nuts and herbs, pan fried in ghee and served with a tomato jaggery reduction. A piece of art carefully hand crafted using curd that has been hung for 24 hours is highlighted with the rich filling of raisins, spices, cashew powder, grated cottage cheese and cashews. This is definitely a show stopper! Subtly cooked, one can experience the intricate flavours that the erstwhile Nizams would have savoured. It takes a very skillful hand to make these delicate kebabs
Malai Phool: Brocolli marinated with a sauce made from saffron and cheese and grilled in the tandoor. A lovely balance of flavours of cheese, saffron and broccoli. An exotic adaption in the menu is the broccoli as opposed to the humble cauliflower the nizams used.One can see the contemporary touch in this dish.
Zimikhand Shikampuri Kebab: A vegetarian version of shikampuri kebab made with elephant yam instead of mutton. My fork easily cuts through the kebab as though it is made of thin air. Aromatic spices mixed with perfectly mashed elephant yam and shallow fried in clarified butter. I can only imagine how much the Nizams should have enjoyed their food to painstakingly cook and eat a meal like this every day.
Tamarind sorbet: We were served a tamarind sorbet as a palate cleanser. The cleanser is generally a neutral flavored element in food that enables that clears the palate, and prepares it for the next flavor to follow. The sorbet reminded me of the good old tamarind sweets they give on flights right before/after takeoff. Tamarind ground with pepper, red chilli and a little jaggery and made into a sorbet and served in the fine bone china! We are now ready for our main course.
To be continued: