PCO. ATM Bistro. Ping’s Orient Cafe. PDA. DSSC homeboy Rakshay Dhariwal has slickly revolutionised the way #OurCity experiences F&B by leaps and bounds. Adding yet another restaurant to his repertoire, the Indiana University graduate conceptualised Jamun – regional Indian eatery & bar. “We were walking over from Ping’s and contemplating names for the restaurant. I happened to step on a jamun, and it got my mind churning,” shares the Power Packer gent talking about its genesis. Reminiscent of childhood memories and packed with health benefits aplenty, the humble fruit hit a chord (and his windshield) and this eatery & bar bloomed. All set to take the capital city by storm, as this #NewInTown prepared for launch, we made our way to Lodhi Colony Market to bring you Jamun, freshly ripened.
Mirrored windows, moody purple hues, and sneaky pops of bougainvillea on a red tiled roof, Jamun is a wormhole to simpler times. The teleportation is sped by Kumar, Rafi, and Burman’s old-is-gold serenades. Soaking in the eccentricity juxtaposed with familial elements, we sunk into the wicker chairs. A carefully researched menu boasting of over 70 dishes graced our table and talking about the inspiration behind it, Executive Chef Rahul Gomes Pereira says, “Usually each state has three to four mainstream recipes. We wanted to shine the limelight on regional recipes cooked at home, food enjoyed by locals.” Furthering the idea, “Indian food doesn’t have to be unhealthy in restaurants” an Ayurvedic Thali conceptualised by Dr. Om Arya from Kerala is Dhariwal’s way to support the cause. Sharing our passion for secrecy and mystery, the restaurant also prides a secret menu for the adventurous palates. Delving straight into this experimental menu, we kicked off with Pickled Dates. The sweetness of dates countered by the sharpness of tamarind and peanut pitla (a Maharashtrian chutney), this amuse-bouche is a stroke of brilliance and on our must-have list.
When dining at a Pass Code Hospitality establishment, you can’t miss out on tipples. Keeping with the theme of regional recipes, the capital city’s ace mixologist Vicky Thakur (and India Nightlight Best Bartender in Delhi NCR awardee) has crafted concoctions celebrating humble Indian ingredients. First on our radar, Jamun Old Fashioned substitutes sugar with jaggery and hits it out of the ballpark. If you believe an Old Fashioned is meant to be old school, wait till you try this. Pairing this bourbon, cinnamon, and orange blend with Prawn Rissois, we knew we were in for a ride. The crunch of fried pastry, the sweetness of prawns, the creaminess of potatoes, and the tanginess of fresh tomato salsa, this Goan delicacy hits just the right notes. The Tenderloin Croquettes however lacked lustre and the pasty texture didn’t appease our palates. Balancing the act, the Kokum Daiquiri reminded us of our days in Mumbai and bumped rum up our beverage (hic) list this winter.
With ace cocktails by our side we progressed onto their signature appetiser, Bharwan Gucchi. The delicate flavour of the Kashmiri morels is accentuated by water chestnut, truffle oil, creamed yoghurt, and homemade chaat masala, balanced better than a man rope-walking. “Truffle has become a huge sensation in India, and on the other hand gucchi is a beautiful indigenous ingredient people don’t know about,” shares Chef Pereira talking about this innovation. Next in, the Mathania Mirch Paneer Tikka, whilst crafted with care, failed to standout on the extremely crowded tasting table. With roots and ancestors from Marwar, this needs a punchier Mathania-mirch-kick that only fellow marwari Rakshay Dhariwal can and will fix in the coming days. The Lamb Seekh Kebab on the other hand are not to be missed. Cooked to perfection, the smokiness from the tandoor aligns itself with the rich brawny flavour of lamb to create an explosion in the mouth that will put a smile on your face (unlike the firecrackers on Diwali). Drawing inspiration from Koyla Kebabs, Chef Pereira is navigating contrary to the current trend in Delhi, i.e., there will be no over-charring. With a bottomless stomach in tow, we got a bite of the Squid Pepper Fry, which we thought packed too strong a peppery punch than it ought to. And the quintessential challenge of a land-locked city, the squid was texturally off the mark.
Amping up the taste-o-meter, the thali is preceded by Paya Rasam. Boasting of the simple flavourings of a rasam and rich umami flavour of paya (lamb trotters), the drink served in cutting chai glass is akin to a warm hug on chilly nights. Making acquaintance with the main course, Roganjosh, Rajasthani Gatte Ki Kadhi, Bhuna Palak, and Karuvepellai Prawns had us swooning. Holding shape yet falling apart upon the touch of a spoon, the Roganjosh is topnotch and delish enough to lure us back on its own. And the Jamun Poori prepared with beetroot reduction makes for its perfect partner in dining. Another creation we couldn’t bring ourselves to part from, Rajasthani Gatte Ki Kadhi treads the path of light and creamy seamlessly. Soft to a fault, the flour dumplings are the key to nirvana. Pushing through the food coma, Bhuna Palak had us hooked. Palak, methi, and coriander seeds cooked over tandoor and finished off with browned garlic, these leafy greens showcase the technique & skill Chef Pereira is known for in Delhi. Next up, Karuvepellai Prawns brought us to standstill on a kettuvallam (houseboat) in the backwaters of Kerala. The burst of coriander and the sweetness of prawns ranked it uber high on the #DSSCRecommends list of curries. While the traditional flavours of Madhurai Fish Curry prepared with Seer fish (skin on) were overpowered by an intense chilli heat.
As we drew closer to bidding adieu, the pièce de résistance had us gleaming. The eponymous Jamun Kulfi created using the blast freezing technique is everything a java plum is and more (yes, we mean it). Closing the night we got talking about behind the scenes of Jamun. “When Picu, Eeshaan, and I sat down to scribble a menu, the list went up to 180 dishes. We cooked our way through it, using matrices to balance it out,” shares Dhariwal. Sourcing ingredients, brassware, and embellishments from all across the country, Chef Pereira says, “It required a lot of footwork.” The intricate process is visible in each element and dish, from rock salt with mini graters to pathimugam (sappanwood) infused water for detox post meal. Helming the project, VP Pass Code Hospitality Eeshaan Kashyap hustled through the country to bring it all together. “From professional suppliers with catalogues to a picture of a guy with his name and a message stating what he is delivering, it’s been quite a journey. A learning curve. Specially in terms of geography!” chuckles Dhariwal. A journey it’s been, and a journey they promise. One that will take you around India.
#DSSCTopTip: If an intimate family supper is what you yearn, book the PDR on first floor, and do not miss out on the ace poetry by Radhika Dhariwal enroute.
Head over to Jamun, 17, Main Market, Block 13, Lodhi Colony, Delhi, and lose wallet weight equivalent to INR. 2000 for two (approx).