Rajdhani Thali (Kurla, Mumbai)

“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life” (The Fountainhead)

It’s seems a rather esoteric location for a sit down restaurant; Rajdhani Thali is slap bang in the middle of the Phoenix Kurla’s food court. Through the ceiling to floor window you can enjoy the scenic view of finger-lickin’ KFC chicken eaters and fake Momo munchers at Dumpling King (as if I need to be reminded of that place)

I inadvertently find myself caught up amidst a load of Zomato reviewers. It has turned into a wild camera orgy with photo “close-ups”, group shots and of course, one-on-ones with the chef being taken from multiple angles. If this is what food reviewing has become, then it is now a lamentable art. Naturally I eschew any such photo opportunities….

We order the thalis all round. They arrive in record time, but surprisingly every dish is stone-cold, even the first round of puris are as cold as a bodies in a morgue. The fig chutney just didn’t work with the samosa. The mango dhokla was overly unctuous and missing that light spongy consistency.

There was a pervasive sweetness running through the daal, the daal dhokli and the pakora curry. I was hoping for some contrast amongst the dishes, but could not find it. It is very hard to appreciate cold Indian food as you miss out on all the wonderful aromas and sensations. Some hot varieties did arrive later including the Mango Jalebi. Wow! That was a thoroughly abhorrent combination. The thick jalebi batter was heavy and did nothing for the already delightfully sweet king of fruit filling.

Do not forget that these Zomato meets are a clever ploy being spun by the marketing gurus of many a restaurant in the city; simply invite a bunch of slobbering Zomato reviewers to your place, give them some free snap (food) and watch the praise roll in.  I have always been a firm believer in the premise that if you get your food right, the diners will follow. Such over-zealous marketing, not only undermines the core proposition of any restaurant but also attracts those shameless individuals who will exchange a few kind words for a free meal.

Nevertheless, I always pay for such meals (around 500 INR for the Full Thali in this case) to avoid any accusations of “ingratitude” that could be waged upon a guest complaining about free food. I now feel at liberty to brand the cold and sickly Rajdhani Thali with a 2.5 star rating.

I suppose I won’t be asked again.

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