Enclosed in the grandeur of the luxury Fairmont Jaipur hotel is the property’s newly launched gem – Zarin, an Indo-Persian restaurant that serves up delicacies from the pre-Mughal era in an elaborate set-up.
Zarin, in Persian, means gold.
That explains the stunning entrance to the restaurant – with elaborate carvings on the ceiling soaked in golden hues; intricately-designed ceiling lamps and heavy furniture that harks to a legacy gone by – much like the fort-like Fairmont Jaipur itself.
The idea behind the new eatery – one of the five that the hotel offers – is to look beyond the Mughal era, which has primarily inspired the property’s look and feel, the hotel’s general manager, Rizwan Shaikh, said.
"The theme of the hotel is Mughal and we thought we will go a step ahead of the Mughal era. After extensive research, we found that Persian cuisine is not practised on a large scale in India and we thought of attempting something that has not been tried," Shaikh told this visiting IANS correspondent.
"We plan to make it more of a lifestyle experience rather than just food. We will incorporate different aspects of Persia, like the fabric, and celebrate its cultural richness," he added.
The menu is not very elaborate, but what’s interesting is the layout of elongated tables, meant to encourage the idea: "A family that eats together stays together."
Deepak Sharma, the hotel’s director (Food and Beverage), said this was deliberate to seize the ‘family moment’. And as far as the limited menu is concerned, that’s to avoid bombarding guests with umpteen choices – and to stick to authentic dishes.
Talking of the dishes – when the staff laid a delectable meal at a special preview session, each dish looked like a work of art prepared with love.
In the warm and cosy environs of the restaurant, folk songs like "Kesariya balam" playing in the backdrop and a Kathak performance that added to the old world charm.
While awaiting the meal – which comes all at once (no one by one system here) – dig into the shiraz salad or try some Persian breads with three dips — Ajika, Satsivi and Labneh. Don’t miss out the bun with a filling of dates, raisins and walnuts.
Shishlik, lamb chops marinated in sweet onion, light olive oil and a mild dash of saffron, is another jewel of the restaurant. Just a single bite tells you that the spices are minimal with the focus on flavour.
Don’t miss out on the Tabriz koftey. The dish has some character with stuffed chicken dumplings filled with nuts and spices accompanied with onion broth. The flamboyance of Persian cuisine can be experienced in every bite – the dish is succulent, flavourful and subtle.
The atmosphere turned magical with the arrival of the atta raan, leg of lamb wrapped in sour dough that takes two days to prepare.
The chef cut open the dough to bring out a marvel. Though the meat was juicy with subtle flavours, I found it a bit hard to chew.
Zarin earns an edge for also offering a plethora of good vegetarian delights.
Try the vegetarian haleem prepared with pumpkin and concocted with the right amount of spices. The dish can give meat haleem a good run for its money. There are also dishes like dal adas and paneer changezi.
For dessert, you can try the baklawa platter replete with the richness of dry fruits or go for the badshahi faluda – vermicelli combined with milk and rose flavouring – a sheer delight for those with a sweet tooth that will surely leave you asking for more.
To settle down these delights, go for Iranian tea. Don’t expect it to taste sweet because it will spring a ‘salty’ surprise!
Zarin is open for dinner only from 7.30 p.m. to 11 p.m on all days except Mondays.
* Location: Riico Kukas, a little over 250 km from Delhi.
* Meal for two: Rs.3,000 (without alcohol)