At Trident’s renovated Samudra, you may need to fast before the feast. That’s how elaborate the portions are in an array of Mughal-influenced flavors in this four-course, 14-course experience. Think of skewers as succulent ground lamb kakori (which was created to be particularly tender following an insulting remark from a Briton at a Nawab party that the skewers were ‘soft’) or the fragrant Moradabadi Murgh Biryani (bringing together the flavors of Awadh and Delhi). Executive Chef Vijay Shahi tells us how, after two years of dedicated research through travel, locals’ stories and binge-reading books like The Mughal Feast: Recipes from the Cuisine of Emperor Shah Jahan, this gustatory journey through history is now open for dinner. And you don’t have to worry about decision fatigue despite the ocean of heirloom plates to choose from, as Chef Vijay keeps it simple with just two options, “vegetarian or non-vegetarian?” Luckily for us, we visit a tasting menu that gives us a taste of both.
A feast of skewers
We start our meal with a Zafrani Murgh Badami, a saffron-infused chicken and almond broth that’s warm and comforting, but not too heavy because a sumptuous spread like this requires deft pacing. An eclectic mix of skewers makes us slide our fork through the meat ChaprikAfghan flattened hash patties and Murgh Kasturi, pieces of chicken marinated in fenugreek and yoghurt. All thoughts of eating in moderation are quickly forgotten as we accompany them with hot dishes. Ultimate Tawa ke Paratha and Roast Roomali.
Vegetarians will appreciate the unique Dabare Aloo, a recipe filled with Jammu pomegranate seed breaded potato pancakes. But the kebab we will say until the cows come home is simply called Doodhiya. Imagine layered cottage cheese squares filled with the goodness of cashews, raisins and almonds, then the lightest cotton swab of mango chutney for a hint of zing.
Meat and greeting
We are happy for the short wait before our dishes arrive. And in the meantime, let yourself be seduced by the stories of Chef Vijay. For example, we discover that “in Shah Jahan’s kitchen, chaat was a non-vegetarian dish! Although we pay more attention to Shajahanabadi Nehari which showcases braised lamb shank with red onions and a blend of aromatic spices from potli masalaherbs and metha attar. The slow cooked meat literally falls off the bone and the brown stew is full of flavor. We savor this alongside the delicate notes of the aforementioned Moradabadi Murgh Biryani cooked imbecile-style. Quite the opposite of decadent and heavy, as you might expect with a wedding biryani, this concoction is more like a weekend comfort meal. However, the main dish turns out to be the Lucknavi Murgh Korma. Simmered in caramelized onions, cashew nuts and chironjee – this dish keeps us coming back for refills more than once.
Kiss of a rose
A trio of desserts appear on our table to complete the experience, just in time for a treat on old-fashioned rose water. Chief Vijay tells us, “Akbar only drank water from the Ganges. It is said that there were rose gardens placed on the riverbank, as the roots would filter the water. Then rose petals were sprinkled over the water to give it both aroma and flavor. Soon we’re digging into an infused rose essence Makhan Malay whipped cream flavored with cardamom and saffron. But the Chahi Tukda Chaandisuperimposed with malai rabri and the pistachio is what really brings us home. The silver leaf at the top reminds us that even the most gourmet plates are enhanced with a simple touch of opulence.
For dinner only. Non-vegetarian at INR 2,650++, vegetarian at INR 1,950++.