Ever wonder why a restaurant chooses a particular name?
Or why it specialises in a particular cuisine?
There has got to be a reason to pick just one thing..
We were pondering on these thoughts as we entered Khiva in Pheonix Market City. Their top-notch hospitality began the very moment we pushed open the door of the restaurant. We were seated at our reserved table where the menu lay, in the form of a daily. And this daily answered a lot of our questions.
Khiva is a place in Uzbekistan, a heritage city covered in vast stretches of sand and beautified by amazing pieces of architecture. The city was an important landmark on the Silk Route, has seen many a war and is famous for its hospitality and cuisine. Marinated meats and veggies, rich and creamy food, slow cooking and overnight cooking are some techniques involved in the food preparation in Central Asia that the restaurant wants to make us acquainted with. The menu/daily goes on to explain some techniques like that of making dal or naan.
Khiva (restaurant) specialises in a variety of cuisines from the northern and central Asian regions like Bukhara, Peshawari and Mughlai cuisines. Basically, everything that is as flavourful as it is calorie rich.
The restaurant is done up in shades of brown and ivory and bears an elegantly rustic look. Walls are covered with paintings depicting the people and their lifestyle. The restaurant is well lit but yet has a warm and dark appeal. One of the things we really enjoyed was the Middle Eastern music which was just apt for what they were trying to achieve in terms of ambience. The glasses and jugs and some of the crockery are copper based vessels, again adding to the rustic charm. The wait staff was dressed in Pathani suits. On one side was the open kitchen, where, through the glass, we could see all the magic happening!
Our meal started with breaking these buttery crisp bread sticks and digging into the cheese yoghurt dip! Delicious.
Bread Sticks and Yoghurt-Cheese Dip
Another thing we loved was the way the menu was designed. Each course of the meal was defined in a particular style, which we will copy here, ‘coz we loved it so much! So here we start…
The Central Asian warriors knew only one way to start anything….Attack!
And so we began the attack with Tamater Shorba. The shorba was fragrant and well spiced. Coriander and pepper did wonders to what would otherwise have been a regular tomato soup. It had a sweet tinge to it but left a spicy aftertaste.
The reason why man discovered fire…. so that we can make Kababs!!
No, they don’t just merely make a statement. They go ahead and prove it to be a fact!
What mindblowing Kababs! No wonder everyone we spoke to about Khiva, raved about their Kababs!
We were confused with which ones to order and then we were advised to go for a platter. They do not have it on their menu, but like I said, top-notch hospitality…. they offered to make us a platter with a few items we chose so we do not miss out on much! Our platter consisted of some of their best Kababs.
Makai Seekh Kabab was non-spicy and so soft that they melted in the mouth.
Peshawari Paneer had paneer that was marinated in a yellow chilli sauce. The paneer in itself was flavourful and a little firm but not chewy. Sprinkled with Chat masala, these were delicious.
Cheese Kurkure was an amazing combination of mushroom and cheese stuffed in a thin but really crispy dough and deep fried. These were not oily and the cheese melted with every bite! Heavenly when hot and equally good when they cooled down a little!
Chowki ki Tikki is one of the Kababs you have to try! You have to! Potato and cheese mixture that is deep fried. Green chillies added a spicy flavour. These tikkis just melt in the mouth
Kumbh Khazana, a mixture of cheese and spinach stuffed in mushrooms. As bland as it sounds, this was amazing. One of the favourites, although it is difficult to pick one! The mixture was not spicy and the flavours of spinach really came alive
The tikkis and kababs were served with five dips/chutneys ranging from super spicy to sweet.
Chilli Garlic dip is not for the faint-hearted. It was incredibly spicy and had a slight taste of garlic. Chikko and Tamarind chutney is a combination with the sweetness of chikoo being well-complemented by the tang of tamarind. In the Tomato and Garlic chutney, garlic overpowered the palate. Both Yoghurt Mint and Mint chutney were good too.
Speciality curries have gourmets asking for more.
And more we asked for! We called for Dal Khiva and Paneer Kurchan.
Dal Khiva is a delicious, creamy and ghee laden black lentil dal, which was slow cooked overnight. It was delicious. Ghee gave it a very very slight sweetness (as common with ghee) and we could not keep our spoons off the vessel.
Coming to the spoons and cutlery, the wait-staff advises that we rather eat our meal with our hands, the way this cuisine is supposed to be enjoyed. Not that they won’t give you the cutlery if you ask for it, but where else do you find the restaurant staff asking you to enjoy the food with your hands?!
Paneer Kurchan had huge cubes of paneer, well marinated in the spicy-sweet gravy and had lots of capsicum and bell pepper.
From the Hot Rotis for Tough Warriors section, we had the Khameeri ki Roti which was a super soft and fermented roti. It wasn’t heavy at all. Chakori Warqui is a layered roti/bread with a slight sweetness and is really crisp.
Sheeriene – A selection of desserts from the land where sweetness was a rarity!
We tried Zaffrani Angoori Rasmalai and the chef special Lychee ki Tehree.
Zaffrani Angoori Rasmali was just mind blowing. Really light ras malai in a thickened saffron flavoured rabdi and garnished with pistachios. You cannot each just one. A must have here!
Lychee ki Tehree had a creamy and thick textured rabdi with litchi and pistachios. It had an aroma like that of rose syrup, was not very sweet. An interesting combination, we liked it!
Overall Experience: We are a fan of their food and hospitality. Just loved the place.
The Battle: The Kababs here are mindblowing! You definitely are going to fight over them!