Ambience: Located in the heart of Delhi’s lush green stretch, Shraman stands coyly in a quaint corner at the majestic Ashok hotel. A rustic staircase with subtle notes of royalty, contoured by gentle pots of plants hanging merrily, escorted us to the restaurant. There was something very ‘vintage’ about this place. Wooden furniture embossed with intricate silver work were laid aesthetically; turquoise blue table cloths became backdrop to white cutlery and a grand art piece flaunting a gorgeous peacock , carved in meenakari work stood splendidly on one of the walls. Old-world charm juxtaposed with essences of Rajasthani culture made the whole setup beautifully intriguing.
Food: This restaurant serves only vegetarian food, breaking the taboo of Rajasthani food mostly being related to laal maas, etc. Being a pure non-vegetarian, I was initially a little stuck up about the idea; but to my surprise, their varied options on the menu turned out to be pleasantly delightful. I started with khas aur paan ka sherbet—a divinely delicious mocktail made of beetle leaves; it was absolutely refreshing and a must-try! Usually, I don’t take more than 5 minutes to decide on ordering my food; but here, I was left spoilt for choice with so many mouthwatering names floating in front of my eyes. However, after much speculation, I ordered some starters—dahi ke sholey (cakes of fresh curd blended with crushed black pepper and chili flakes) and Shraman chappan bhog (an assortment of vegetarian kebabs). Dahi ke sholey was soft, slightly grainy in texture and downright delectable. The later one had a range of appealing kebabs made of cottage cheese, potatoes, chilies and more; my favourite was the bharwa aloo, which was stuffed potato cubes infused with cottage cheese crumbles, cooked in typical Rajasthani spices.
For the main course, I ordered the stereotypical dal bati churma; it is literally synonymous to Rajasthani cuisine. You cannot miss to have this whilst dining at a Rajasthani eatery. This traditional nomad’s meal was brought to me moulded in warm, desi ghee. The dal was rich in flavour and the bati was soft in the center and stiff at the coating; thus, it was very well cooked. I relished upon this one. This was followed by methi malai mutter—a beautiful vegetarian dish that comprises of fenugreek leaves and peas cooked in thick, rich and creamy malai (cream). This was consumed with mutter parantha. By the end of the meal, I think, my whole pre-conceived notion on vegetarian food had majorly altered. I would recommend this place to everyone (including non-vegetarian folks)—if you want to savor upon classical, vegetarian Rajasthani food in an elegant fine dining setup then this is the place to be.
My lunch concluded with lip-smacking desserts. I had to myself a plate filled with shahi tukda and a bowl of phirni. The bread slices in the shahi tukda were crunchy and well-toasted and the rabri was fresh, thick and super creamy. The smell of elaichi (cardamom) and occasional fragments of broken pistachios brought forth an ecstatic feeling. The phirni on the other hand was nothing extraordinary. Overall, I had a great experience lunching here.
Chef’s recommendation: With its many cultural influences, this place offers a varied selection of cuisines to satisfy your palate. Signature dishes like Saundhi Paneer Tikka, Shraman 56 Bhog, Paneer Lazeez, Dal Shraman, Gatta Curry, Jodh Puri Mirchi Paneer, Vegetable Lohla Puri, Sabzi Balluchi and Shraman Punch will leave you craving for more.
Find them at: The Ashok, 50 B, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
Call them at: 011 24672384, 011 24123593