Me and two of my colleagues wanted to sample the food at Samarkand at Infantry Road. So, we booked a table for yesterday at 7.30 pm. One of my colleague, Rueben, also wanted to bring his wife and son (or maybe it was me who suggested that it would be a good idea – I don’t remember). Sadly, the other colleague, Mainak, had to come alone as his wife won’t be here until two weeks from now.
Yesterday, there was a transportation strike (bandh) called by KSRTC and the auto unions demanding the implementation of Kalasa Banduri project. The bandh acted in our favour. It took Rueben to drive the entire 20 km stretch, pick both of us up and reach Infantry Road in 45 mins. Even as I draft this post, I can see huge stretches of jam at four places.
Rueben’s son, Rehaan, was very quiet throughout the ongoing journey. Apparently, he has grown fond of car journeys and loves the traffic around him. “He is born for Bangalore,” Rueben joked.
I have been to Samarkand before. I knew that the Biriyani is good and we had to reach there before 8.00 pm to sample the Biriyani[see note]. Rueben and his wife, Krithika, liked the ambience. (I rarely pay attention as long as the place is clean.)
They provide some complimentary breadsticks and an assortment of dips. We had three starters – Khumb Khazana (some mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cheese), Cheese Kurkure (mini wraps with mushroom and cheese) and Gosht ke pasande (a spicy slice of mutton grilled in tandoor). Meanwhile, Rehaan, enjoyed dipping his breadstick in lemon, mayo and curd and then sucking it. He accidentally dipped his breadstick in a chilli dip. It was so piquant that even we had trouble holding back our tears and mucus. You can imagine what the kid’s reaction would have been.
We ordered a Mutton Biriyani, a Chicken Biriyani for our main course. Being a vegetarian, Krithika ordered a Roomali Roti and Corn Methi Palak. It is a good desicion to skip the Vegetarian Biriyani and get some other dishes.
The biriyanis are cooked dum style (cooked over slow flame with a layer of wheat dough preventing any moisture to escape). Regarding quantity, if you have filled yourself up with quite a bit of starters, one biriyani would be good for two. Since we hadn’t done that, two biriyanis were perfect for three of us. The mutton tasted far better than the chicken (it’s not bad but it falls short of its former variant.) The biriyanis have a subtle sweet taste to them and the piquancy is not very apparent while eating. You start getting that burning sensation in your tongue slowly.
We rounded up the evening with some kulfis. They are expensive and I wouldn’t say that they are priced for what they are worth. Still, it is the only place that I know of that serves kulfis made with jaggery. You might as well pay for this novelty.
Samarkand is on a tad bit expensive side. They charge about 33% over their listed price which includes a 10% service charge.
While we were busy savouring the kulfi, Rehaan, who had been sitting quiet until then, started running around. He wanted to get in the car and get back to what he loves doing best – observing traffic.
Note: Samarkand cooks a very limited stock of biriyani. I think it is a sign of a good restaurant. That way, they can have a tight control over quality. One of my friends, Tapas, had given me a heads up. Hence, I knew that if we had to eat biriyani, we should place the order before 8.00 pm. In fact, it might be a good idea to reserve a table by 7.30 pm. In weekends, the waiting list piles up by 9.00 pm. Most people, who came after 8.30 pm were disappointed to hear that they are not going to get any biriyani. Two couples got into an argument with the management because they were not informed about the unavailability a priori when they had booked the restaurant specifically for that. I think that would have been overkill on the restaurant’s part.