Thalis are the embodiment of Indian culinary ethos – colours, variety, a melange of every flavour and best of all, limitless refills. The last point is usually not of much use to us, since we barely manage to finish one serving of an elaborate thali. But at Mercure Dwarka’s Maakhan restaurant, we actually mustered the courage (and tummy space) to have another helping of the dessert, snack and bhaingan aloo ki sabzi (potato brinjal curry). While the Gujarati thali was no doubt the highlight of their gastronomical offerings, the a la carte menu and buffet breakfasts had us smiling ear to ear as well. Let’s dig into the details.
An earthy colour scheme with nicely lit alcoves and ample seating space made Maakhan seem very inviting. We were a large group that inevitably ended up at one of the long corner tables, although for breakfast, we’d sit at a table next to the veranda (which was actually the smoking area but the windy outdoor space endeared itself to us for other reasons). We were at Mercure Dwarka for two nights and enjoyed most of our meals at Maakhan.
The aforementioned thali was the first meal we had at the restaurant, after checking into the hotel and it impressed us completely. The tomato sev sabzi was quintessentially Gujarati, as was the potato brinjal preparation and sweet dal. We were offered a choice of theplas or roti and of course, we chose the local thepla. Some khakra, kachori, salad, rice and gulab jamun for dessert completed the perfect luncheon. The ubiquitous glass of masala chaas (on the milder side) accompanied our sumptuous meal.
That night, we enjoyed a buffet dinner which featured numerous varieties of Indian and international vegetarian dishes. Yes, the restaurant doesn’t serve meat or eggs because Dwarka, being a Hindu pilgrimage site, is an all-vegetarian state. However, the variety of vegetarian food is more than enough to keep food ennui at bay. For lunch on the following day, we ordered a buttery paneer preparation, non-sweet dal tadka, an interesting bharwan aloo (stuffed potato) and pasta in red sauce.
The pasta, dal and paneer were supremely delicious. The cheesy, flavourful pasta assured us that Chef Inderpal Singh could do a great job with non-Indian dishes as well. The thick and creamy dal was so comforting that we ordered another bowl. The potatoes had a luxuriant cream cheese stuffing but the gravy was a tad tangy. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful, nap-inducing meal. Yet, we made room for chocolate and vanilla ice-cream at the end of it all.
Breakfasts are often our favourite meal while travelling because not only are they usually complimentary, they also feature the widest variety of dishes. We missed South Indian cuisine (idlis and dosas) at Maakhan but thoroughly enjoyed the poha, upma, fruits, salads, flavoured yoghurt and muffins. The variety of juices were also very refreshing though there was nothing to beat the serene perfection of their masala chai.
Have that thali!
Where: Hotel Mercure Dwarka, Porbandar-Dwarka Highway, Dwarka, Gujarat
When: Everyday, all day
Damages: A little expensive on the pocket, but worth it
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