Thursday, 3 March 2016
Khyber, Fort, Mumbai
Think of the stories from Aladdin and Arabian Nights. Now imagine yourself as a character in one of those stories. Picture yourself as a trader passing through mountains and deserts transporting exotic spices. It is late at night and you are tired. Suddenly you see a magnificent inn in the middle of desert. You walk in and are mesmerized. There are columns engraved with delicate carvings and walls adorned with beautiful paintings. There are little caves made of rock and solid sand with intricate branches in all directions. There are extremely polite and wise men to take care of you,to provide you comfortable lodging and food that satisfies your soul. Yes, the price is a bit high but you know that this is an experience worth it.
This is all that I thought of within 5 seconds of entering Khyber about 2 weeks ago with my family when an uncle came visiting from Delhi and wanted good Indian food. He usually prefers to go to Copper Chimney but this time,he wanted to go some different place and I remembered reading about Khyber some time ago in Lonely Planet! Yup, this is a famous place and when you enter it,you can see more foreigners here than Indians. Don't let that discourage you though! There are many people who think that a place with more patronage from foreigners will be snooty/ snobbish or at the very least, the food here will be 'pandering' to their tastes. None of that is true at Khyber. Just be that exotic trader from Arabian Nights,keep your eyes open and let the magic of Khyber wash over you :)
Khyber's exterior itself is akin to entrance to a magical cave. It is a place with constant hustle and bustle, the ambiance (as I already explained) is magical, rooted, rustic, ancient and timeless - all at the same time! Soak it all in. The only drawback is that it is almost impossible to take good pictures since everything is washed out or comes out lit by a blinding golden hue. EVERYTHING :D
Anyway, that is a minor grouse. Maybe this will finally make the selfie crazy people stop down and actually admire the unique ambiance from their own eyes instead of via a camera lens :D
The staff is very efficient, warm, helpful and attentive. No frantic arm waving to attract their attention. Water refilled on time, food served promptly, feedback taken seriously and the smile on their faces intact from beginning to end. We were not in mood for heavy duty eating so between the 4 of us,we ordered Reshmi Broccoli, Paneer Khorma, Mix Veg Curry, Roomali Roti, Garlic Naan and Tandoori Roti. Every dish was very good, perfectly balanced in terms of spices, flavors and nothing overpowered nothing else. The Paneer Khorma was a very different dish. I expected it to be made in a typical white cashewnut gravy that almost every restaurant uses. But here,they made in a very unique way. It was dense yet not heavy and felt like it was made by a grandmother somewhere! Yes, it had a very rustic way about it yet it was probably the most elegant dish I have had in a long time. Full of raw pan fried paneer and milky flavor (difficult to describe!), it might not suit everyone's palate but I sure loved it :) Mix Veg Curry had a little creamy touch to it which again was brilliant, quite different to the usual mix veg in other restaurants.
I did not see any out of this world innovative dish (read:the masterchef craze spreading everywhere!) on the menu but everything is so flavorsome and satisfying,I don't see the point of asking for anything unnecessary flashy. Portions were good and in fact,if we had just ordered 1 main course dish it would have been enough for us for light eating. No complaints, since everything was so tasty and we were taken care of so warmly. Paid just about Rs. 2200 for a beautiful evening spent chatting and eating with family for about 2 hours in a mind-blowing ambiance :)
I definitely see why this place has been so popular for so long, I cannot wait to go back sometime soon :)