Ramzan Special Menu at Neel

Insia Lacewalla , 23 Jul 2013
Paya Shorba
Paya Shorba

All year long, we wait patiently for the 30 days of Ramzan so we can venture out into the festive streets of Muhammad Ali Road and gorge on specialty meats, curries and sweets. However, there are times you want to enjoy the same food in a comfortable and hygienic setting, seated at a well lit table away from the crowds  (especially if you’re with the faint of heart who refuse to walk through the more adventurous by-lanes of Bhindi Bazaar.)

We walked into a Neel on a rainy afternoon for just such a meal, looking to devour some selections from their recently launched Ramzan Special menu that boasts preparations mainly seen during this month. Unlike the food available on the streets of Mohammed Ali Road, these dishes are cooked with a little more precision, and a lot less oil.

Accompaniments
Accompaniments

I was raised in a Bohra Muslim household so Ramzan holds a very special place in my life, especially the food served during iftar (when you break your fast). This is the kind of food I was brought up on.

The Chef took pity on my plight as there was no way I could choose between a Paya Shorba and a Subz Santre ka Shorba or between the Haleem and the Ghosht and Paya Nihari – so he offered me a tasting portion of every item on the menu.  Genius!

The Subz Santre Ka Shorba, which is basically an orange soup, was served in a tea cup and was one of the best items on the menu. It was light, tangy, citrusy and spiced to perfection. This was followed by a Paneer Tikka, which fortunately was not plastered red with food coloring and was lightly seasoned leaving the paneer flavour intact. The Ghosht Shikhampuri, a traditional kebab very similar to Galouti (ground lamb cooked for hours with a bunch of Indian spices) came next, and was served as a succulent medallion that didn’t last long on our table. Unfortunately, the Adraki Mutton Chaap was not quite as impressive, slightly dry with a marinade that conspicuously lacked in flavor.

Subz Santre Ka Shorba
Subz Santre Ka Shorba
Mutton Shikhampuri and Paneer Tikka
Ghosht Shikhampuri and Paneer Tikka

Next up came the Haleem, a mixture of wheat, barley and meat slow-cooked until the ingredients have blended into one another completely. Neel’s preparation had a soft and creamy consistency, while fried onions and cashew bits added some extra zing. I would highly recommend the Mutton Kheema and Gurda, which is minced meat and pieces of mutton kidney (this may not sound as appetizing as it looks and tastes) blended perfectly together. This dish was slightly more spicy than the rest of the food served.

Haleem
Haleem
Mutton Kheema and Gurda
Mutton Kheema and Gurda

Ghosht and Paya Nihari lovers will find Neel’s version slightly thinner in consistency, however the tender meat easily slid off the bone making it a memorable dish. It is served with Taptana soft bread made of dough raised with yeast, perfect for thin gravies such as nihari.

Ghosht and Paya Nihari
Ghosht and Paya Nihari
Taptan
Taptan

Our meal ended with a heavy dose of dessert: a deliciously ghee laden Shahi Tukda with a rather chewy texture, an Apple Malai Phirni that we could have passed on, and Rabri with Malpua which was dense and heavy.

Shahi Tukda and Apple Malai Phirni
Shahi Tukda and Apple Malai Phirni
Malpua and Rabdi
Malpua and Rabdi

A word of caution to vegetarians – Neel’s Ramzan menu is unabashedly a meat-lovers feast. They do serve some vegetarian items, including a curry of lotus stems and mushrooms stuffed with cheese and pomegranate – but none of these dishes really did it for us. If meat is not an issue, however, then this special selection makes for a great meal on a rainy day. Most of the food is kept simple and prepared exactly as described, without any unpleasant surprises. The only downside is that it lasts only as long as Ramzan –  once it’s gone, the waiting game begins all over again.

The Details

Neel at Tote on the Turf
Mahalaxmi Race Course
Opposite Gate No 5 & 6
Keshavrao Khadye Marg
Mahalaxmi, Mumbai – 400011
Tel: (022) 61577777
Neel’s Ramzan Special Menu is available until August 7, 2013.

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