The new lunch menu at Jamavar in The Leela Palace, Chennai is rich with flavour
Jamavar at The Leela Palace Chennai is now open for lunch. And the most expensive dish on the new lunch menu is neither the salmon nor the lobster. But in fact, a mushroom dish! “A kilo of morel mushrooms, sourced from Kashmir is priced at `30,000,” Chef de Cuisine, Debdash Balaga, tells us as the waiter arrives with a portion of two of these exotic fungi, treated much like foraged treasure in the restaurant’s kitchen. We do the math. It turns out that with an average of 45 mushrooms in a kilo — a single mushroom is worth a little over INR 600.
This takes expectations of what this dish is going to taste like — the Bharwan gucchi methi mushroom — as high as the 18 carat gold leaf on the ceiling. The verdict: the build-up is well deserved. Meaty, earthy and nutty — the morel has a distinct texture. And filled with a creamy cashew and cottage cheese paste at its centre, that melts into your tastebuds, we chew slowly, hoping to make our mushroom experience last just a wee bit longer.
Moving on to other highlights of this Indian speciality restaurant (previously open only for dinner) — the chef serves us his tandoori spin on the popular lotus root from Thailand. Marinated in a homemade spice mix and yoghurt — the slender spheres offer a beautiful balance of sweet, spicy and tangy.
We also sample a degustation of what is in store for the set lunch menu — which includes two appetisers, a main course with a choice selection of rice and pulao, Indian breads and dosa paired with two veg and two non-veg dishes (or four veg side dishes) and a dessert. Cubes of Paneer Tikka Sunehri are soft as a cloud. Murgh Methi Malai blended with fresh fenugreek and cream tastes like dream. And a pail of ghee-laden Tomato Pappu (lentils), a recipe of chef Debdash’s grandmother has us returning over and over, for that familiar feeling of ‘home’. It turns out we aren’t the only ones that think so. “Every time actor Mahesh Babu has visited, he orders this dal,” the chef recalls with a smile. The reason, we’re told, “He (Babu) said it reminded him of ‘his’ grandmother’s dal!”
A la carte INR 2,500 per person. Set meal INR 1,350 for both veg or non-veg.