A SOUL STIRRING EVENING
[Mouth-watering Memories of a Yummy Foodie Date]
Falling in love?
Wondering where to go on that crucial Foodie First Date in Pune?
We had a truly soul stirring evening at Soul on a warm Sunday evening last summer. Let me tell you about it.
It’s easy to get to Soul – just drive down North Main Road in Koregaon Park and turn into ABC Farms to your left, let the valet park your car and walk straight ahead into the lovely ambience of Soul.
The surroundings are green, natural, with trees – wonder why they’ve put a cover over the top of the dining area – dining under the clear night sky is much more pleasurable and romantic.
You may find the place full, like we did, even though we reached as early as eight.
There is a mini golf course to keep you occupied while you wait for your table, or you can sit at the impressive well stocked bar, like I did, sipping deliciously soothing “mocktail” Virgin Pina Colada. I am sure I would have sampled something more potent and exciting from their ample cocktail repertoire in my heyday!
I look around the truly contrasting cosmopolitan crowd – young “table-for-two” lovey-dovey couples having a tender romantic candle-lit dinner, a boisterous group celebrating a birthday, lively friends spiritedly wining and animatedly dining and happy families thoroughly enjoying themselves.
The ambience is wonderfully friendly and relaxing – generous use of wood, wrought iron chairs, candle-lit tables – a rather alluring charming atmosphere in natural verdant surroundings.
Soon we sit comfortably at a table, and as if on cue, the music starts – one of my favourite golden oldies.
I listen with rapt attention, lose myself in the nostalgic music, feel rejuvenated, and as the song ends I realize that my vivacious “date” has already ordered Soul Kebab, Rogan Josh, Chicken Makhani and Naan.
I browse through the tempting Italian delicacies on the menu and look at her in mute supplication, but the lovely young lady sitting opposite me is not moved and closes the issue in her typical peremptory manner “My friend told me that the Soul Kebab and Indian dishes are good here!” Period!
The Soul Kebab is indeed really good – in fact it is superb – a really creative innovation I’ve not had anywhere else – a spicy Mutton Seekh Kebab encased in delicious breast of chicken wrap. I wish they’d serve a more generous plateful as the small pieces of Kebab dunked in the tangy green chutney vanish in a jiffy.
The Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken [Chicken Makhani] and Naan arrive.
“Rogan Josh must always be eaten with rice!” I affirm to my foodie companion.
She looks at me curiously, and orders steamed rice, and while it arrives, I dig into the Butter Chicken.
The Butter Chicken looks good and tastes good.
This preparation is in the same league as the celebrated Butter Chicken I’ve relished at the famous original Moti Mahal of Daryaganj and at Gaylord in Churchgate.
The soft Naan drenched in the lip-smacking creamy gravy scintillates my taste buds.
She wants a Roomali Roti. “Sorry,” says the waiter, “No Roomali Roti, only Roti and Naan, there is a shortage of staff.”
She frowns in disbelief. A pity! A real pity for a posh restaurant; but at least they are honest about it!
I look at the Rogan Josh. I am disappointed. It doesn’t look like Rogan Josh, so I ask the waiter whether he’s brought Mutton Masala or some other mutton curry dish instead, maybe, owing to shortage of staff, but he confirms that the thick greenish brown gravy with rather muddy coloured chunks of meat is indeed “Rogan Josh”.
Authentic Rogan Josh is the most visually appealing, passionately tempting and appetizing dish which makes your mouth water and entices you to eat it. I feel it is vital that food must look good, for we “eat” our food twice – first we eat with our eyes, then with our tongues.
I taste the gravy – yes, distinctive taste of pure ghee is clearly discernible and this locally improvised version of Rogan Josh seems quite tasty, the mutton is well cooked and succulent, a decent passable mutton dish, certainly not superb.
We eat our meal slowly, enjoying the delightful music.
It is “open mike” night and spontaneous spur-of-the-moment singers from the diners, egged on by active participation from one and all, enliven, and almost electrify, the atmosphere.
It’s good, real good, a truly unforgettable soul-stirring dining experience.
Wish we could have enjoyed the exhilarating environment much longer, but there are people waiting for a table, and the dessert menu hasn’t much to offer, so off we go to our favourite place for a late night dessert.
I’m glad we visited Soul.
It’s good, real good; we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, good reasonably priced food, invigorating music, breathtaking ambience, a truly unforgettable soul-stirring dining experience.
Dear Reader, if you enjoyed reading this, and want to relish more such delicious foodie adventures, do read APPETITE FOR A STROLL:
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.