Seemingly straight out of 1,001 Arabian Nights with its Mughal palace-like feel, Jyran at the Sofitel Mumbai BKC hotel is a fine dining restaurant and gin bar that expertly references the cuisine of India’s erstwhile North-West Frontier Province that’s now a part of neighbouring Pakistan. With its luscious curries, smoky kebabs and buttery breads, the food is definitely the highlight here, but more on that a little later.
The restaurant itself is a stunning space. One that took birth from the imagination of restaurant designer Isabelle Miaja and her love affair with India. The interiors are complemented by rather nuanced influences like the palace style windows whose glass panes reflect a plethora of pendant light fixtures suspended from the high ceiling. One also notices an imaginative blend of furnishings in the main Art Deco inspired dining area with plenty of jali (trellis) screens and geometric floor tiles.
Making the most of the last of Mumbai’s pleasant weather evenings is the al fresco terrace lounge that spills forth from the main restaurant. Perfect for those pre- or post-dinner drinks, the lounge is surrounded by water bodies and highlighted by bowls of fire. A gargantuan and rather impressive recycled metal elephant sculpture weighing several tonnes finds itself moored in one of the shallow pools and is poised as though it were walking on air.
The sculpture also creates a dramatic icon that is intended to initiate conversation about the genesis of the restaurant’s name. Now, while ‘Jyran’ also means ‘lost love’ in Persian, and thus becoming a de facto symbol of hope and new beginnings, there’s more to it. The name, I’m told, was also inspired by a heart-warming tale (the veracity of which is at best a moot point!) of a young boy named Jyran and how his friendship with an elephant taught him the lessons of life.
But never mind the name, it is the food here that tells the most glorious tale among all of Jyran’s assorted accoutrements! Created by Jyran’s chef de cuisine Shadab Ahmed who has had an illustrious career spanning over 25 years, the menu here is an interesting one. The signature set menu that we’re served reads like a ‘top hits’ one and is testimony to the chef’s oeuvres. And one that reveals a real mastery of flavours and textures.
Take for instance our amuse bouche of a small bowl of paya yakhni shorba served alongside a tangy chur chur roti. The kid goat trotter soup is full-bodied and delicious, replete with a nice spicy hit at the back of the throat. Straight to our table from the gin bar, a well-made negroni revelling in all its bitter orange notes does its bit to temper down the soup’s chilly bite I find myself grappling with.
My dinner date’s perfectly concocted gin collins served in a jazz era-style coupe saucer glass goes well with our assorted kebab platter. One where the lamb gosht galawat ke kebab, the tandoori jhinga (prawn) al shamreen, and the hung curd dahi kebab shine the brightest among the other stars of our appetiser course like the baked chicken sheekh kebab that’s anointed with a swirl of cheese sauce.
For mains we’re taken on an edible journey of wonder with the silken nihari al subho and the sublime chooza makhani. While the former is a robust – if a tad thin in body – goat meat curry that’s generally had for breakfast (hence the Urdu word for morning ‘subho’ in its name), the latter is chef Ahmed’s take on a butter chicken. This iteration is well-saturated with flavour and smokiness and pairs well with the flaky laccha paratha.
Speaking of breads, the aabi roti that has been invented by chef Ahmed at Jyran itself is a dense looking, but light as air baked roti. Perfect for mopping up the unctuous dal al Jyran which is a riff on the popular, buttery lentil dish of dal makhani.
The rice lover in me is satiated with the final dish in the mains; the Awadhi lamb biryani. Named after Awadh which was what modern day Lucknow was previously called, the subtle flavours of the meat, rice and light spices blend perfectly with that of kewra (screw pine) extract and khoya (thickened milk). The last two ingredients being the lynchpins of an authentic Awadhi biryani.
Our first dessert is a creamy, yet light angoori ras malai where grape-sized bits of cottage cheese are dunked into a bowl of sweetened, saffron and cardamom infused milk and served with slivers of pistachios and almonds. Though a wee sweet for my taste, the almond and ghee halwa is a fitting curtain call to a meal that’s memorable for myriad reasons. Great food, great drinks, great ambience. Take your pick!
In a nutshell
Perfect for a celebratory dinner or a romantic date night, Jyran is the place to indulge and be indulged like royalty with food and drinks that are a cut above the rest.
Address: Sofitel Mumbai BKC, C-57 Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East) Mumbai, India.
Phone: +91(22) 61175000/5115