Gourmet Couch from the ITC stable is now home delivering from some of the hotels’ restaurants
There was a time as a child, when I wanted to be an ice cream seller. I thought I’d have a van full of the stuff all to myself. The dream remained unfulfilled, but something equally good happened to one of our friends: She went and joined the ITC group of hotels. Thanks to her job, she got us the most delicious ham tarts from ITC Maurya for every celebratory occasion. Over the years, ham, sadly, gave way to chicken, but even now, when someone says ITC, I think of those crispy-creamy pastries.
There is, of course, a lot more to ITC than the ham or chicken tarts. Most people love the food of Bukhara, which serves what is described as northwest frontier cuisine. I am not greatly fond of Bukhara, but I have had memorable meals at Dum Pukht, the restaurant where you get some divine Awadhi food; and at West View, where the chefs would gently sizzle a steak or prepare pork chops that you’d not forget.
To cut a long story short, here’s some good news for those who like the food of ITC: It has started a home delivery service called Gourmet Couch. In this terrible age of the pandemic, when people are still wary of going out to restaurants, even the high-end ones, many luxury hotels have decided to come to us. You sit at home, look at the menu, place your order, and the food arrives at your doorstep. I got one such hamper from Gourmet Couch last week.
If you do want something from Bukhara, I would recommend its burrah kebab. Now burrah kebabs, as most of us know, are really difficult to cook to perfection. They have to be somewhat charred, but not overdone, as that leads to a bitter taste. The Gourmet Couch burras (₹2,299) were superb — well done, yet still juicy, a combination that is hard to get.
We also enjoyed the mutton Dum Pukht biryani (₹1,575). The rice was long grained and had all the mild flavours of a good biryani, with just the right fragrance of mace and kewda. The murgh handi korma (₹1,599) was delightful. The chicken pieces — boneless drumsticks — were tender, and I loved its smooth gravy. Clearly, the masala had been strained, and the outcome was a velvety dish.
I am afraid the galouti kebab didn’t work for me. The meat was too densely packed, which made it more like a shammi kebab than a galouti. I am not very fond of Dal Bukhara (₹950) either, as I tend to find it a bit too smoky. The meal ended with superb gulab jamuns (₹599) — which were huge, soft and juicy.
The menu includes food from its Italian kitchen (crusted stuffed chicken served with roasted baby potatoes and veggies, ₹1,250), and the Indian section includes hara kebab Awadhi (₹1,099), mirch baigan ka salan (₹1,225) and shahi nihari (₹1,625).
My friend in ITC communications tells me that a ‘no contact’ protocol is followed for all deliveries. There are mandatory temperature checks for chefs and other staffers, and the food — packed in corn starched clamshell, corrugated paper boxes — is delivered in their own fleet of cars. The service is open from 11:30 am to 3 pm and 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm (call 011-66325137).
All in all, Gourmet Couch is good news. Stay home, stay safe — and eat well. What could be better than that?
The writer is a seasoned food critic