Food that traverses from all over Maharashtra!
A good trend has kicked off in Pune for the past few years, that of Upscale Maharashtrian cuisine restaurants, and there are a handful around now.
Deewan Khana at Balewadi recently opened its doors, with nicely done interiors. Majority of Maharashtrian food serving restaurants in Pune have more or less similar dishes and curries, but here they have put in a lot of efforts in finalizing the dishes for their menu, they have explored the length and breadth of Maharashtra and finally come up with dishes like Sangameshwar Kombdi, Pathare Prabhu Curry, Nagpuri, Shahalyatali Curry and more.
The Food Prowl Team was invited for a food tasting at Deewan Khana. Mr. Shivraj Kale, the owner of the restaurant graciously welcomed and hosted us. Our food tasting here on a sultry afternoon started with a refreshing quintessential Solkadhi followed by starters that were served quickly. Kheema Samosas where the first to arrive, and these samosas are made with traditional maida crust for samosas and not the very thin phyllo pastry sheets, those don’t taste like a desi samosa but most places do non veg samosas in them. Gladly here it was the traditional crust with some ajwain infused in it and neatly stuffed with delicious kheema. This dish was one of the highlights from all that we ate. Malai chicken, while the chicken was cooked well and tasted good, there was excess of mayonnaise dressing atop the chicken morsels. The mayo didn’t fit the bill and the restaurant took that as a feedback from us to replace it with cream or a similar more Indianized dip. Malwani Sukke Chicken had big chicken pieces with a robust flavorful masala, it has enough flavor complexity to keep taste buds intrigued. DK Special had fusion style flavors, tantalizing and chicken was cooked to perfections. Mutton Unde is served with medium sized kheema balls tossed in a red masala, while the flavors are good, unde themselves were not juicy enough, this needs some improvement. Green Masala Mutton Chops are done using goat meat and not lamb meat that probably is much used across Pune and that adds to overall mutton dish flavors. The Mutton Chops were tender and the masala had an earthiness to its flavors that worked for it very well.
Overall all the starters were really good except a couple of them requiring a bit of a tweaking which is pretty much easily manageable.
The curries were a complete different story, which each of them having distinct flavors that tempted our taste buds, as we tasted as many as seven curries, accompanied with Bhakaris of Jawar, Bajra, Tandul and Chapatis. The various curries we tasted were Nagpuri Mutton, Achaar Mutton, Dahi Chicken, Methi Mutton, Varhadi Kharda Mutton, Pathare Bandhu Mutton Masala and Gharghuti Mutton Rassa. Our choice for meat was mutton surely as getting goat meat in Pune is not common.
Nagpuri Mutton is not as spicy as saoji but is very flavorful and has a decent level of heat to it with a hint of smokiness in the dark gravy.
Pathare Prabhu curry has meat and potatoes cooked together, the gravy has a medium consistency and flavors overall have a long lasting after taste.
Dahi Chicken, a recipe from Vidarbha is high on spices and dry chillies and that get toned down with dahi, a very decent preparation.Varhadi, Methi and Achaar curries were good.
Gharghuti had a wonderful aroma but its taste was a bit of a damper as the coconut in it just didn’t feel right. In all the dishes the Mutton was tad overcooked and its fat content was more than usual, something that kitchen staff needs to work on. The feedback was shared with the owners. Post the curries and bhakris we had Mutton Pulav, it was a aromatic preparation with tender mutton, nice blend of spices without any overpowering masala. For desserts we had Chikki Icecream, here they didn’t infuse chikki flavor in the icecream itself but topped vanilla icecream with melted chikki, that extended the crunch stickiness from jaggery and groundnuts to the icecream which was a sweet welcome. Another dessert that none of us had heard of and tried for the very first time was Purnalu. Big deep-fried balls of lentil, jaggery and rice flour. They were served hot and we were supposed to break them open pour ghee on it and eat, the flavors were very mild and rustic, and its texture was also very peculiar, it’s a welcome change from the usual desserts available elsewhere.
In summary, the team that has curated the menu of Deewan Khana has put in lot of effort in getting together a challenging menu for kitchen staff, now onus is on them to improve the consistency and serve rural Maharashtra delicacies on our plates.
Special Thanks to Mr. Rahul Tatooskar (PR, Deewan Khana) for inviting us and Mr. Shivraj Kale (Owner, Deewan Khana) for hosting us.
Deewan Khana, Balewadi, PuneFollow Us: Instagram: @FoodProwl Facebook Group: Pune Food Bloggers Guild