Kolkata is a city of traditions- tales from the past and old glory. Please feel free to kill me, but when one of my friends asked me for any restaurant serving GOOD north-Indian food, I couldn’t help but take them to those age-old ones. But this time, when my friends came down from Bangladesh, there was a new place in town. I’ve heard so many good things about this place and thought I should go and check it out myself. Riyasat– you pleasantly surprised us, I must say.
About the place
It’s a restaurant by The Specialty Group, so a basic level of grandeur is expected. It’s located inside South City mall and hence parking was not an issue. Our table at Riyasat was reserved, but maybe we reached a bit early- the place was almost empty. But as our lunch session progressed, quite a number of tables were occupied and please remember, it was a weekday lunch. Good to see …
There is one basic thing that most of these new places in Kolkata lack in and that is water service to the table. though we’ve asked for bottled water, our glasses were never empty and that made me somewhat happy. But what was served to us made us even happier. It was a set of chutney bowls with different kinds of dips. And to go with it, some nachos were served complementarily.
The set had the standard pickled onions (replaced with shallots), tomato chutney (a less sweetish one), mint and coriander chutney, stuffed chilly achaar, some garlic chutney and lo behold … Kuler achaar. My English vocabulary is really really challenged, so please manage with this Bengali term, please. Now, these are certain small small details which normally elevate a restaurant and Riyasat had it spot on. Some nachos (or was it nimki ) were served to go with it, instead of the popular roasted papad …
Kebabs at Riyasat
When at a restaurant serving North Indian food, I personally go for their Kebab platter. And in most of the places, it worked for me. And here at Riyasat also, it’s the same thing. We’ve ordered for one Veg Kebab sampler (the new name for platter ??? ) and one portion of its non-veg counterpart.
Now, I’ve never thought that I’ll say this myself, but I’ve actually loved the vegetarian sampler more than the non-veg variant. I won’t say the non-veg platter is bad- no. But the vegetarian platter simply killed it- with the items as well as the preparation. In the veg platter, they’ve served Nadroo Anjeer Akhrot sheekh and that was the showstopper for me. I don’t know how and from where they’ve sourced the nadroo (or lotus stem), but the sheekh kebab is definitely one of the best, that I’ve tasted in recent times. The basil flavored paneer tikka was average and nothing special. But, the next killer dish was the Brocolli Kebab. The strange earthy taste of broccoli was brilliantly complemented with marination of khoya and saunf- and the end product is mind-blowing.
I’ll definitely recommend this dish once someone visits Riyasat.
Now, the non-veg platter had the fair share of Fish Koiri, chicken Malai Tikka and Shikaari Maas. While they were not bad, but after tasting its vegetarian counterpart, it couldn’t hold its forte. But still, the mutton burra kebab (with some fancy name) tried to maintain its dignity, but I’d rather have it as a separate a la carte dish with the veg kebab “sampler”.
The main course now
It was time for the main course and we had one hardcore vegetarian amongst us. So, upon asking for the suggestion, we ordered the “Malai Makkhan Makhana”. Now while this dish resembled Paneer Makhni, it was not the same dish. Paneer was made into a patty with lotus seed pops and was served on a bed of Makhni gravy. The dish tasted damn good. But I liked the patty on its own and the Makhni gravy on its own. It may be the serving style (for visual pleasure), they didn’t quite gel with each other. But all said and done, once I go back, I’ll again order this dish.
The Dal Makhni, on the other hand, was something superior. IT was cooked with patience and time, where lots of restaurants go wrong. I personally feel (and please correct me if I’m wrong), Indian food is all about homogeneity. It’s a cuisine where multiple different ingredients blend together to lose their individual identity, in search of a superior homogeneous nature. and a dal with fewer ingredients is a rarity today. But Riyasat team did well here.
Non-veg main course
For the main course, we went for a single dish and as per the suggestion, it was Khad gosht. Khad gosht is pit-baked mutton- a game specialty dish from the desserts. I’m not very sure what or how they did here at Riyasaat, but what we got on the table was a super smooth gravy with baby lamb- sprinkled with some melon seeds. Paired with the Warki Paratha, it was damn good.
Dessert at Riyasat
In most of the North-Indian food serving restaurants, desserts section is one of the most unnoticed segment. Apart from some Gulabjamun and few other staples, we’ve rarely seen anything else. But at Riyasat, it’s a different game altogether. It seems Chef Jolly worked really hard in this segment.
We had ordered for Balu shahi Tukda. Now, we’ve seen Shahi Tukda and Royal India Restaurant serves a damn good version of it. But the Riyasat team gave it a twist here. They’ve replaced the bread piece with a piece of Balu Shahi. In a layman’s language, it’s a rich Indian version of Doughnut and is definitely better than a piece of bread- on any given day. Topped with some chopped pistachio, this product is a must try there.
Apart from this, maybe I was looking really stupid, or my friends were a lovely overseas couple, we were given a tasting sampler of a few of their desserts. And let me praise the nicely shaped bhapa doi and the tender coconut ice cream- they were outstanding.
And when we were over and billing is done, we expected some mouth freshener but what came, was a surprise. It was edible chocolate spoons with a sprinkling of Gulkand and gold dust. Riyasat was shouting about royalty inspired Indian cuisine and the mouth freshener really sealed the deal. And after a long long time, I was happily praising a restaurant for its food, leaving apart the posh decor.
And regarding the service, I must praise Ms. Sneha, who’s a management trainee there and be trained by the Four Seasons Group. She actually took the pain of describing all the dishes with great enthusiasm and served us really really well. Overall, it was a great lunch and Riyasat- great job done …
Bon apetit !!!
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