Saffron is not just a classic Indian ingredient, but also a much-loved restaurant at Juhu’s JW Marriott. This was quite evident as we entered one Sunday night, expecting it to be a quiet dinner but quickly realising that Saffron is a beloved Sunday ritual for many multi-generation families who live near and far.
Happily ensconced amid bustling tables spilling over with the gummy smiles of grandparents and babies, we loved the restaurant’s old-school, friendly vibe. There was none of the stiffness that some five-star hotels imbue into their waitstaff. The sonorous strains of live Indian classical music being played at one corner of the restaurant set the tone for the food with finesse that we would come later. We had been invited to sample the new menu created by their new Chef de Cuisine, Chef Abdul Quddus.
The restaurant has been around for a while, but the coming of new Chef Quddus with some fab ideas has completely revolutionised the menu. The focus is on Awadhi cuisine and it was really fine dining at every step of the way that night.
I started with a perfectly made Bellini whose effervescence set off the creaminess of the gorgeous Malai Jhinga in all its grilled prawn glory beautifully.
Next up, were Palak Anjeera Kebabs made with spinach and fig paste. Popeye would have loved these melt-in-your-mouth appetisers but we thought they needed just a teeny bit more flavour. Perhaps a hint of ajwain to add some complexity?
The Narangi Shammi took ages to come to our table but when it finally arrived… oh my! Made with lotus stem and potato with a cunning stuffing of orange, it is one of the tastiest vegetarian kebabs we’ve ever had. The velvet texture and the superlative taste actually had us forget the abysmal service that preceded it.
The fabulous Raan-e-Quddusi arrived at table next. This spectacular raan dish has been created by Chef Quddus based on his family recipe handed down over many generations. The braised and roasted meat was moist and tender and the rich flavours of shahi jeera and cinnamon gave it a heady aroma. Eaten along with hearty mains at Saffron, it was truly satisfying.
The heat was on when the Bharwan Mirch aur Teekhe Aaloo (stuffed chillies with spicy potatoes) was unveiled. The sweetness and subtlety of the spongy saffron-scented sheermal (leavened bread made with ghee) complemented it perfectly. And the saffron chicken biryani was beautiful, delicately flavoured and not heavy on the tummy.
Dessert brought us another traditional dish reinterpreted by the chef who literally has culinary excellence in his genes. In this wonderful take on the classic Shahi Tukda, Chef Quddus uses a wonderful flaky brioche for the base bread, which adds layers, crunch and a delightful sensation when you sink your teeth into every bite of this sinful dessert!
Pricing: Meal for two approximately Rs 5,000
Address: JW Marriott Juhu, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai