The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar - Inside the Book

Entering into the glorious stories of Rudyard Kipling, Palladium Hotel's The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar takes inspiration from that bygone era which we can only imagine now

By: Karishma Suri
Posted on: November 25, 2014
Entering in to the glorious stories of Rudyard Kipling, Palladium Hotel’s The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar takes inspiration from that bygone era which we can only imagine now
Once upon a time, during British raj (rule) in India, there lived many a majestic Sahibs (gentlemen), whose only love was for classy things in life. If dining like a Sahib is your thing, then you will not find it hard to fall in love with Palladium Hotel, Mumbai's latest offering in the form of The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar. 
The property's first Indian cuisine standing, it's signature offerings are reminiscent of ethnic culinary journeys, but with of course, finesse. Drawing from the lives and times of the Sahibs in the colonial-era, a time when these proper gentlemen would revel in the joys of rich, flavoursome food and traditional Indian hospitality, comes this new food haven. Because the sahib himself was a man of great taste and great taste comes from the finest ingredients, and of course – experiences - the team at The Sahib Room captures the eclectic spirit and opulence of this thoroughbred. Taking me, and its other patrons on a journey showcasing India in a rich light, it is one not to be forgotten so easily. But before you get to food, I would recommend a moment or even two in The Kipling Bar that leads into The Sahib Room.
The jungle book or the community table?
At the Kipling Bar, the beverage menu showcases the creativity of mixologists, with cocktails based on good ol’ classic libations infused with Indian ingredients. Mixing up inspiring cocktails at this colonial inspired bar, the bartenders will give you every reason to spend more time here, probably deciding what to drink - or just enjoying Rudyard Kipling’s magnifying glass, scripts and 'reserved' shiny board. With its verandah seating, the Kipling Bar is inspired by the prolific colonial novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling, who spent many a years in hill stations of India, observing the country life. His famous works like ‘The Jungle Book’ and protagonists like ‘Kim’ have served as inspiration for many of the cocktails on the menu. 
While glancing through their menu, which had interestingly named as well amazingly concocted cocktails and mocktails, the ambience sort of lent itself yet dominated with the set up of the bar. Royal Hibiscus, reminding of those mighty flowers, is a mesmerising cocktail in a spellbinding blend of tequila, saffron, rose and hibiscus, which could very well be a favourite with the ladies. Quite interesting to me was the drink Mowgli that took its name from the evergreen character of Kipling's ‘The Jungle Book’, in a wild mix of whisky, spiced tea, apple, orange and spices. Quite inclined to a mocktail called Eden, it was actually a  fulfilling creation of litchi, apple, cherry and clove that I chose. My companion went with the Spicy Delight with guava, chili, lime and chaat masala - such a fresh creation that I myself couldn't resist stealing a few sips every now and then.
At first sight  
The Sahib Room earns brownie points on its vintage old-world decor, with antique features such as telephone, gramophone, and prints dating back to the late 17th century to mid-1800s.  A veritable journey into a bygone era, with elements that salute the British India days, it comes as a refreshing change to the all whites and all browns that have become the rage today. Water-colour paintings from this period depict the colonial past of India when writers and poets romanticized the Indian countryside and its people. So, does The Sahib Room evoke a feeling of nostalgia when seen through the eyes of a young Maharaja? That is what I'm assuming the designers intended to do. 
Venetian mirrors, gilt and brocade, Ossler chandeliers, deep rich upholstery and European formality are the design details that make The Sahib Room a living room from a bygone era, and yet the play of colours and layout add a modern day contemporary touch. Large, exquisite chandeliers brighten up the dark wood furniture and its earthy tones while elegantly placed crockery on crisp white linen will take you back in time when oil lamps, ink pens and silver cutlery were a common feature on dinner tables. 
We meet again, India 
The menu boasts classic Indian favourites with familiar ingredients and slight hints of modernity. If you want to introduce Indian cuisine to a guest or rekindle your romance with rich Indian cuisine, this place will fit the bill. Chef Paul Kinny, with his years of experience, is at the helm of kitchen affairs and has a passion for fresh cooked food, ingredients sourced from their natural habitat and freshly ground spices and herbs. Using traditional ingredients and a style of cooking that masterfully blends innovation, taste and flavour, the team ensures that you are in great hands from the moment you step in.
Chef Paul’s recommendations include kebas and grills that range from the Lucknowi Seekh to the spiced mandarin orange soup with ‘chili dust’. I would recommend letting your server help take you through the journey that will tickle your senses. My non-vegetarian partner was most anticipating the Gongura Jhinga which was tiger prawns in a spicy red sorrel marinade, on the server’s strong recommendation. He also sampled the Vilayti Adraki Jhinga which translates to grilled jumbo prawns rubbed with young galangal and kaffir lime - one of the best dishes available for a non-vegetarian as it satiates on all levels along with being perfectly cooked and tender. Quite rare to achieve, it was nicely smoked and strongly flavoured. The Gilawati kebab - the famous Lucknowi lamb kebab with a distinct flavour of clove - also received a thumbs up from my companion who opined that it was literally as smooth as silk and just melted away in the mouth. Last on his platter were the Jaituni Murgh ke tikke (chicken marinated in green olive tapenade), which received some criticism due to the quality of the chicken not being upto the mark completely (slightly bland and chewy). The olive paste seemed to catch his attention and jog his tastebuds even a month later.
Being a vegetarian, I was offered a sampler platter that apparently had all the chefs favourites. Starting off with the Nadroo ke shammi, which literally melted in my mouth, the braised lotus stem patties were 'bhatti’ and seared to perfection. The Subzani paneer tikka (tandoori cottage cheese stuffed with spiced prune chutney) has now taken a big place in my heart as my most favourite paneer tikka in the planet because it ended before it started and danced with my palate! The dhungari kumbh were coal-smoked forest mushrooms rubbed with fresh cilantro and ginger. While not a big ginger fan, the technique that was used to flavour these mushrooms was so perefect and delicious (with the slightest ever notes of ginger), that I found myself to almost ask the chef for the recipe. My personal favourite on the platter, the broccoli dak bangla, earns points for innovation. Broccoli marinated in philadelphia cream cheese and kasundi mustard, it possibly is the most amazing preparation of broccoli!
For the main course, we took a few moments to pick our dishes, simply because there were so many to choose from. On the chefs recommendation, we went with the Purvanchal ka saag, a ‘tawa’ cooked puree of fresh organic greens and spice dust. Being an okra lover, we also went for the Amchuri bhindi which was okra sauteed in housemade white butter and piquant dry mango powder, which was a little extra salty if had unaccompanied by a roti. Don’t miss their Sahib Ki Khaas Dal Makhani which is their signature rich black lentils cooked overnight in a copper urn. Personally, it stands as the best black dal available in the city. And when my companion, who is not a dal lover reached out for a second helping with a grin on his face, I knew we had struck black dal gold!
My companion also sampled the Sasranga Meat which was Kashmiri hand-pulled lamb with garlic, cardamom and mace. While tasty, the oil overpowered every other flavour in the dish. A surprise winner was the Jhinga Anari which had fresh shrimp, hot spicy tomato salsa, pomegranate pearls and ginger. Seeming an odd combination at first, the first bite was like love at first sight as the tender prawns romanced the pomegranate, which enhanced the perfect spices.
To please the sweet tooth, not because we really were hungry, but because no Indian meal can possibly be complete without a dessert, we sampled the Elaichi gulaab jamun (golden dumplings stuffed with green cardamom soaked in sugar syrup), which unfortunately was the only disappointment that night. Unduly cold and hard, the exact opposite of what it usually should be, even the team refused to leave it on the table for longer than a second. But making up for all of this was the paan ice cream which was an unbelievable way to freshen the mouth as a perfect mukhwaas!
With ornate glass candelabras, chandeliers, Indian countryside paintings and the mellow lighting, The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar attempts to transport guests to a memorable period in history - the era of the distinguished Sahib. With recipes that are mastered and presented to perfection, and drinks that salute the bond between masculinity and feminity, this is one restaurant that has been, is, and will continue to be the Sahib's favourite!
Coordinates: Level 9M, Palladium Hotel Mumbai
Timings: Lunch 12.30pm - 2.30 pm and Dinner: 7.30pm – 11.30pm 
For Reservations: +91 (22) 6162 8422
Capacity: 54 seats at The Sahib Room & 66 seats at the Kipling Bar

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