As a food lover, I'm fascinated by great names given to recipes and the way they are presented. The vegetables and meats can be cooked in different ways and named in various themes. To try out a typical North Indian like menu, I went to Samarkand which is a Central Asian/ North West Frontier Cuisine restaurant having very similar roots. It is run by the Bengaluru-based BJN group, who also own many other restaurants in the city. The restaurant is right in the middle of all hustle bustle of the city and still in a cozy corner of a street, I was greeted into caves lit dimly as I entered.
Infantry road lies in the central business district (CBD) of Bengaluru city and close to a lot of businesses and up market localities. True to any CBD, Samarkand is one among many restaurants in this part of the city.
Address : Gem Plaza, 66, Infantry Road, Shivajinagar, Bengaluru - 560001
Phone : 080-41113366
The restaurant is open for lunch between 12 PM and 3:30 PM and for dinner between 7 PM and 11:30 PM. Early reservation is an absolute must; the tables start to fill beyond 8:30 PM, so plan for 15-20 mins waiting time even with bookings. Parking can be difficult in this region, however the restaurant provides a valet service just outside which should be used.
The restaurant is one of its kind, sporting a look of a cave with flame torches look-alike ("mashaal") at the entrance and a big poster of Samarkand warrior on the back wall. It has an open kitchen with the chef's swirling up the dough balls every now and then to make different kinds of Central Asian & Indian breads (khameeri tori, roomali roti etc). The seating is wooden tables with slightly low chairs.
The waiters are all dressed in black North West Frontier (I would call Afgani/ Pathani) dresses. The food menu comes in form of Samarkand newspaper (which you can actually take away) and drinks menu on a copper bottle.
The waiters are well trained with the menu and suggest their signature dishes and portions, while being aware of your needs. The place is fairly compact so you always have someone to call up to. The servings are helped in your plates - overall, a nice experience.
A dinner for two without drinks would be about INR 1800/- ($30) including tax and service charge. The drinks are priced at about INR 180/- to INR 360/- ($3 - $6) for domestic brands.
We went to Samarkand to try out a typical Central Asian menu which has been customized to the local tastes. Colorful bread sticks are served with a chutney sampler on all tables. This sampler includes Yellow organic chili, Coriander & mint, Tomato & garlic, Yogurt, and Tamarind chutneys.
Peshawari Paneer Tikka is one of the signature vegetarian starters and an absolute must have. A good selection of non-vegetarian options include Sabuta Chooza (char grilled spring chicken) and Gosht Ke Pasande (Mutton with Indian spices cooked over a griddle). The meat is mostly well done true to the Indian concept.
There is a big selection of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian main courses with various types of breads. Some of the signatures include Shahi Dum Aaloo (stuffed potatoes in Kashmiri gravy) & Meloni Tarkari (seasonal vegetables in prepared home style) in the vegetarian and Murgh Peshawari (chicken in rich brown gravy) & Nalli Ka Salan (Tender cooked lamb gravy) in the non vegetarian. I do recommend trying their Dum Biryani which is cooked "dum" (covered and sealed) with a bread over the utensil.
I also tried a kulfi which was usual, I would say fill yourself with amazing starters and the main course, rather than look at the desserts.
The food is different and tastes good, the ambiance actually accentuates the whole experience. Go with friends and family for a good evening outing in central Bengaluru.Published On: Friday, January 10th, 2014