54 Praangan, a name so beautiful that it’s sheer poetic timbre can exert influence on a culinary-inspired clan. Epitomising the Sanskrit derivation of the word Aangan, or an open-air Nawabi courtyard, Praangan is Indore Marriott’s new launch that brings alive the ancient essence of royal dining. Subsequently, the restaurant gets its numerical addition from the busy neighbourhood of 54 scheme, where its located. Having said that, despite being roosted in Indore’s busiest-poshest locality, 54 Praangan transcends you to a quiet gastronomy fare, swathed delicately, amidst nature.
On this clear evening, I was welcomed to “54 Praangan,” by a whiff of a crisp breeze that gently whispered in my ears and guided me through a trail of sophisticated festivities. While I trailed around the soothing ripples of the air, Marriott’s adept waitstaff escorted me to an ‘exquisite’ Chef’s table. From where I was seated, the “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh had come alive by 8 PM. In the frame, I had a waning moon and a sky full of twinkling stars bowing down to me. Although, the gentle breeze carrying the exotic aromas from the Live cooking stations is, what indulged all my senses.
To complement the truly artistic interiors, 54 Praangan brings to you suaver and perhaps, Indore’s most luxurious dinnerware. Cloaked in an ornate sheen, the napkin holders and the golden cloches were the first to intrigue me; that followed by, a lavish culinary experience that the affluent wouldn’t mind shelling out extra for.
As for the indulgent menu, 54 Praangan introduced me to both their veg and the not-so-veg menu. Each dish showcased ingenious culinary art complemented by the Indian flavours and traditions, however, this intricately personalized meal comes at a cost if you are thinking about booking the Chef’s table. Then again, who doesn’t want to walk in for a fairy tale dinner lit up with an individualized menu and butler service?
While I was watching the chefs prepare my food at the live-stations, 54 Praangan’s mixologist sent across their refreshingly ‘signature’ cocktail, the Pan Maharani. The bar menu states that it’s an ode to all the lovely ladies, be queen forever. This beefeater london dry gin cocktail, infused with beetle leaf syrup was best accompanied by sparkling conversations with Sous Chef Ajaz Qureshi (related to Chef Imtiyaz Qureshi) who excitingly revealed, how every dish at 54 Praangan is prepared, in its most authentic form by implying ‘traditional’ cooking techniques. The gastronomic tour bettered forthwith as Chef Qureshi divulged information on the Indian fare, I was about to get treated to!
The decadent menu of the day kicked off with Indian soups such as the Badam Palak Shorba and Paya Ras, an anti-ageing bone broth. Loaded with nutrients, the vegan ‘Badam Palak Shorba’ was a captivating surprise, laden with a rich blend of spinach, almond butter and almond milk. With a creamy consistency, this is the perfect soup for the nippy Indian weather. Paya Ras, on the other hand, was a clear flavourful soup prepared by slow-cooking the trotters of a lamb with various spices and herbs. Other than being stacked with a high amount of the nutrients, this bone broth was very delicious yet, light on the stomach.
Before we could get going with the starters, I was served yet another cocktail, the Mojito 54. This herbal concoction is the restaurant’s unique take on the traditional Cuban highball and is made by muddling fresh cilantro, lemon and mint topped up with masala lemon soda. It’s a perfect summer cooler with perfectly balanced citrus and herbaceous mint notes. A few sips down, the savoury dishes were unpacked on the table. From the vegan section I was served, Zafrani Paneer Tikka, Pothwari Bharwaan Aloo, and the Peshawari Subz Shammi Kebab. Wherein, the Zafrani Paneer Tikka was a scrumptiously soft burst of flavours, the Pothwari Bharwaan Aloo, on the other hand, was a baked golden delight from the kitchens of regal Luckhnow. Slathered with hand crushed Lakhnawi spices, this appetiser is more or less, Shahi Dum Aloo with a twist.
The ‘Peshawari Subz Shammi Kebabs,’ were a wonderful culinary-choice, as if, imported right from the legendary, kitchens of the Peshawar’s. Just the aroma of Peshawari spices was so aromatic that I could have gone munching on these all night. Chef Qureshi promptly revealed that a coarse mix of Peshawari spices, yoghurt and soya keep these kebabs moist. Together with veggies, these integrants make a soft textured mixture, which is then rolled into smooth, flattened Kebabs, to be browned, on a Tandoor or a grill.
From the non-vegetarian selection, I was tasting the Galawati Kebab, Murgh Malai Tikka and Fish Radoli Tikka. While the mouth-melting Galawati Kebabs from Lucknow were the star of the non-veg savoury, Murgh Malai Tikkas were a complete change of flavours. As we dined, Chef Qureshi unveiled how Tunday-Kebabs or Galawati Kebabs, were first cooked for a legendary King of Lucknow. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, as it goes, loved tender lamb, however, with ageing time, he had to give away the temptation for racks and chops, and instead, settle for a less-chewy preparation. The royal chefs duly fulfilled his guilty pleasures by introducing these soft and succulent Kebabs to the royal menu. Murgh Malai Tikka, in contrast, was a creamy, lightly seasoned summer preparation with an over-night marinated chicken cooked to perfection.
Legends have it that Indians adapted the Afghani Kebab culture in the 13th-century which is when Murgh Malai Tikka first saw its way through the royal kitchens. At 54 Praangan, expect the same taste with an identical panache. Lastly, I relished the Fish Radoli Tikka, an oven-dish replicating the fresh flavours from the Rajgharanas of Rajasthan. This finger-licking-good culinary delicacy was slathered with Indian spices and basted with lemon juice. Needless to say, Radoli Fish Tikkas were extremely enjoyable!
As for the lavish main course, I had the pleasure to devour Palak Methi Papad Paneer, Aloo Bukhara Kofta, Bhindi Nain Tara, Padoli Wali Daal and Sabz Tehri with the choice of bread. Methi Papad Paneer is a Gujarati main course loaded with the goodness of spinach leaves and fenugreek. This unique combination allowed me to savour the crunchiness of the roasted papads to go with the paneer methi curry.
54 Praangan’s Aloo Bukhara Kofta was a wholesome Shahi dish epitomising Pakistani (or ancient Sindh) influence. The Apricots were delicately stuffed, then encased in a spicy potato mixture and finally served with a spicy Indian gravy. Loved the texture and the richness of this dish! Padoli Wali Daal from Padoli village, Bhindi Nain Tara and aromatic, spiced Sabz Tehri were great accompaniments.
The non-veg main course included Gosht Khada Masala, Lagan Ka Murgh, Murgh Yakhani Biryani, and Dal-e-Dum. Each unclasping customary-flavours from the kingdom of imperial provinces. Whether it be, Awadh or Hyderabad! Indubitably, the Gosht Khada Masala cooked with Awadhi whole spices was a pure delight. This spicy, delicious ‘slow-cooked’ Mutton delicacy is a perfect dish for any occasion.
Likewise, spicy Lagan Ka Murgh, also popularly known as Dum ka Murgh is a Hyderabadi culinary wonder that gets its richness from cashews and poppy seeds. It goes best with Butter Garlic Naan or Roomali Roti.
Murgh Yakhani Biryani, to illustrate, had a very Kashmiri taste and all thanks to the master chefs of 54 Praangan, who have beautifully preserved the essence of the original recipe. I was served this flavourful pot rice, the way they do it in Kashmir that is by covering the earthenware with dough. This tempting chicken rice was served with Boondi raita, garnished with fried onions.
The last course was a festoon of traditional desserts with a twist. On the plate was Kala Jam, Motichoor Rabri Parfait, Kesari Rasmalai and Thandai Mousse Cake. Deconstructed desserts are in trend, and at 54 Praangan, Pastry chefs are consistently working to customise and re-assemble the favourite ingredients of a guest into a modern dessert to suit their taste. Brilliant, isn’t it? Don’t believe us? Try it yourself!
And with that, the night came to an end, as we bid goodbye to the moonlight that kept us company all through. Big thanks to Indore Marriott for hosting and spoiling me to a wide array of Royal delicacies from all across India. The ‘swagilicious’ regal menu of 54 Praangan, sure won my hearty appetite although, I’ll need to return for many such poetic nights to indulge all my senses.