35 Years of the Royal Afghan, ITC Windsor
My first experience at the Royal Afghan, at the then Windsor Manor, was way back in 1992. A young boy of eight, who never expected that his love affair with food would go on well into his thirties, I knew the evening was a special one. Immaculate service, perfect music, a pool side table… and of course food that blew my mind in ways my young self couldn’t comprehend. I also remember being reprimanded later on for behaving like I had never seen food before; that too in front of guests. Anyone born in an Indian household knows the gravity of the consequences when you don’t behave appropriately in front of guests. I digress. The Royal Afghan was among the top restaurants the family would go to for really special occasions.
The Royal Afghan recently celebrated their thirty-fifth anniversary. In a day and age where restaurants struggle to make it past the two-year mark, the Royal Afghan stands tall and proud. Sticking to a menu that I don’t think has changed in ages, the sole focus of the Royal Afghan is to offer its patrons food that’s prepared with the best ingredients and offers a consistent top-notch flavours every time.
I was invited a couple of weekends ago to indulge in some of the best that the team at Royal Afghan had to offer. From delicious Reshmi Kababs to nearly-rhapsodic Tandoori Jhinga, to tender morsels of lamb with the Barrah Kabab, we were served the best of everything Royal Afghan had to offer.
While everyone at the table were staunch non-vegetarians, we were served a platter of some of their best vegetarian dishes that covered tandoori aalo, tandoori simla mirch and more. The tender and delicious Murgh Tandoori was skewered with a mix of yellow chillies and turmeric instead of the regular red chillies was wolfed down by yours truly in a matter of minutes. Not to forget the Sikandri Raan. I’ve only once had the pleasure of savouring that delicious whole leg of lamb when we had gone with a much larger crowd. It’s one of those times I wish I had two stomachs and four times my current metabolism.
If you’re already thinking it… yes, there was a main course. Because no trip to the Royal Afghan is complete without their classic Dal Bhukara. And not to forget the rich and creamy Murgh Makhani. Dessert was some delicious Kulfi, Phirni and Gulaab Jamun.
Food at the Royal Afghan is one of those things that words can’t quite describe. One needs to experience the perfection and elegance that sings tradition. Chef Riyaz Ahmed and his team have continued to do a spectacular job of keeping the flavours consistent. While we see restaurants changing their menus every few months to keep the crowds coming back (not that I am complaining), there’s something to be said for consistently good food that delivers on all counts.