Named after the famous diamond believed to have been mined from Golconda, ITC Kohenur is the latest addition to the shimmering landscape of Hyderabad, overlooking the picturesque Durgam Cheruvu and Golconda Fort in the distance.
There are six food and beverage outlets in the hotel — three signature restaurants, a coffee shop, a chocolate boutique and two bars, each of them excelling in their respective cuisines and drinks.
Ottimo – A taste of Italy
Ottimo which means ‘excellent’ in Italian is exactly that. The amiable Chef Vittorio Greco has created a menu with such delicacies as the fresh-tasting scallops carpaccio with its delicate scallops dressed with tomatoes, capers, olives and oregano dressing. The aromatic seafood broth is cooked in the Ligurian style native to north-western Italy and is brimming with fish, tiger prawns and squid in a tomato soup with cous cous to add texture and seasoned with basil.
A must-try is the rabbit ravioli; these little parcels of pasta filled with braised rabbit and finished off with a dash of balsamic vinegar and wild thyme are delicious! Another must-order dish is the lobster risotto with its chunks of lobster along with creamy, arborio rice. The tender Australian lamb chops are complemented with a gin and juniper berry sauce and truffle, paired with a smooth vanilla mash, spinach and sautéed vegetables. As for the desserts, the beautifully plated panna cotta with wild berry coulis should be your preferred choice.
Golconda Pavilion – All day dining redefined!
The buffet spread at the cheerful coffee shop is vast with a colourful salad counter, bread section, Indian and continental section, a live grill counter with the choicest of ingredients and an extensive spread of desserts. I started off with a refreshing beet and ash coated feta salad. The chef’s modern, fusion take on the classic shrimp cocktail was also a delight. The shrimp in cocktail sauce was served with a boiled egg filled with coconut vinaigrette and a distinctive kokum ice cream. The healthy Himalayan barley and mushroom soup was packed with flavour. The mains of grilled lamb chops with sautéed vegetables were cooked perfectly and complemented with a robust jus. Dessert was a rich chocolate and caramel mousse which was piped into flowerettes.
Dum Pukht Begum’s – The Cuisine of Royalty
Dum Pukht is known for its slow-cooked Awadhi style dishes and with the addition of ‘Begum’s’ to its name in Hyderabad, it includes the Nizami style of cooking too. The menu is extensive with appetizers such as seb zameeni — beetroot stuffed potato patties; dudiya kebab — cottage cheese stuffed with spiced potato and cooked in the dum-style, jhinga dum nisha — jumbo prawns with cheese and yogurt, dum pukht kakori — a minced lamb kebab, Shikampur kebab –— traditional Hyderabadi lamb patties stuffed with yoghurt and onions and patthar gosht — thin slices of lamb marinated with spices and cooked on a stone slab.
The main course has curries like qasar-e-pukhtan, which has paneer cubes in a tomato and fenugreek gravy, dal dum pukht — a heartwarming yellow dal with yoghurt, yellow chillies and tempered with caramelised garlic, dum pukht koh-e-Awadh — a qorma of lamb shanks cooked in their own juices and scented with saffron and asaf jahi murgh qorma — chicken marinated in curd and spices, grilled in the tandoor and finished on dum, amongst many other dishes. Of course, there is the fragrant dum pukht biryani which is made in the Awadhi-style, in a sealed handi. The all-time favourite, Hyderabadi Gosht Biryani takes pride of place with its flavourful combination of rice and lamb marinated in spices and yoghurt which is cooked dum-style in meat stock and saffron. The meetha course includes the shahed-e-jaam which is a luscious gulab jamun filled with almonds and pistachio, dipped in saffron honey syrup; the badami kheer and the Hyderabadi speciality — kubani ka meetha, made from stewed apricots and stuffed with whole almonds.
Yi Jing – An Ode to the Orient!
Yi Jing is also known as the ‘Book of Changes’, which is one of the oldest and most classic Chinese texts. While the restaurant interiors are a blend of the classic and the modern, the menu presents contemporary versions of classic Oriental dishes with some very interesting flavour combinations.
Start your meal with the unusual Spicy carrot and wasabi dumplings with their fiery kick and the sake and edamame dumplings which are shaped like edamame pods and will simply melt in the mouth. The Sichuan style crispy prawns are fried king prawns with a spicy, pronounced flavour that will appeal to Indian palates. The lobster with XO Sauce is a tasty dish of stir fried lobster smothered in this common sauce used in Cantonese cooking. The stir fry itself was attractively presented in its shell. The Hoisin chicken with micro Greens consists of shredded chicken in a piquant Hoisin sauce which goes well with steamed rice. The stir fried green beans with dried chilli is also delicious in its simplicity.
Beijing duck pancakes are loved the world over and the ones at Yi Jing are authentically made with a soft pancake filled with Beijing duck, juliennes of cucumber, spring onions and plum sauce. At the restaurant, you can also gaze endlessly at the chefs kneading and swirling the noodles around in the open kitchen. Do also try the sliced noodles with tomato and egg.
And while Chinese restaurants aren’t exactly known for their sweet endings, Yi Jing is different. The jasmine tea tart with Madagascar milk chocolate and apricot sponge is a work of art. The smooth milk chocolate hits you first with the apricot sponge giving a feeling of texture while the hint of jasmine tea leaves a lovely aftertaste.
The star of the show is the anise caramel custard with Porcini mushroom ice cream! May not sound very appealing in print, but the unusual combination works, with the anise flavoured custard offset by the sharp mushroom ice cream.