United Kitchens of India is a bold and ambitious entrant in the Hyderabad food scene. From the moment you step in, UKI impresses with its audacity. It can currently accommodate around 180 diners. That figure will jump to 240 once it gets its alcohol license and the entire second floor becomes operational. And they are not even using a huge chunk of their property! I was told there’s something special planned for the yet unused space. Besides the regular dining area, United Kitchens of India houses a coffee shop called Dawn to Dusk, 10 alfresco private dining areas where you can relax over a hookash, and a lounge and bar called ETC on the first floor.
The menu of the restaurant continues to reflect its “think big” attitude. United Kitchens of India strives to give you a taste of some of the most popular cuisines from around the country. The menu features food from six regions of India – the united Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Bengal. I was invited to a tasting session and got to sample a few of the delights from the menu. UKI is still waiting for the liquor license, so currently only mocktails are available. I started off with Tee Toddler, which is a brilliant non-alcoholic version of Sangria prepared with Hibiscus tea with a generous sprinkling of Apples and Olives. There were also a variety of Masala Sodas on offer with either Sprite or Fanta as the base. The presentation of each mocktail is unique and clearly a lot of thought has been put into them. The most striking among them is the Lota, which is a fascinating concoction of various fruit juices including plum and orange.
The appetisers included a Bhutteyan da kebab and Murg Angar from Punjab, Malai Paneer Roll from Rajasthan, Fish Kobiraji, Veg Chop, and Narkel Poshtor Bora from Bengal, Grilled Korameenu and Kodi Roast from Andhra, and Grilled Garlic Prawns from the BBQ section. The Paneer being used in the Malai Paneer Roll is amazingly soft, and definitely ranks among the best I’ve had in the city. The combination of sweet corns, tangy yoghurt, and crispy semolina worked brilliantly well in Bhutteyan da Kebab. The cheesy Veg chop was also delicious, but this dish will definitely let down any Bongs craving for a Veg Chop. It didn’t even remotely resemble the original dish. Narkel Poshtor Bora is not something I would have as an independent starter, but I can’t flaw the execution of the dish. The Grilled Korameenu looked brilliant, but the Prawns stole the show among the non veg. starters. The Fish Kobiraji, however, disappointed. The fish cutlet was a little bit soggy, and definitely needs some work.
In the main course I started off with Chingrir Malaikari and Aloor Dum with Radha Ballavi. The Aloor Dum was done just right, but would have been even better had UKI used baby potatoes. The prawns in the Chingir Malaikari were soft and juicy, and I enjoyed the rich cashew flavour in the gravy. But, the name is once again a bit misleading, as the dish is a far cry from the original. After finishing off the Radha Ballavis I moved onto Laal Maas and Patiyala Sahi Meat. Laal Maas, a fiery lamb curry from Rajasthan, went really well with the humble Missi Rotis. I love spiced Naans, and I loved pairing UKI’s Red Chilly Naan and Chilly Cheese Naans with some of the more mellow dishes like Papad ki Sabzi. The final dish to arrive was the humble Sambar Rice. It’s never easy to impress with Sambar Rice, but UKI managed to pull it off. I’ve no clue what goes into making a perfect Sambar Rice, but I can confidently state that UKI serves a really delicious version of it. The Lal Maas and the Aloor Dum were my favourite among the mains, but none of the dishes gave me room to complain. All of the dishes served were good, which is an impressive feat.
UKI is still working on the logistics of dessert, but for now they are serving some Pannacotta with Blueberry compote and Tiramisu. The Panacotta was the first bad dish of the day. There was nothing remarkable about the flavour, and the one that I was served seemed to be a bit old. The Tiramisu was not brilliant, but the rich flavour of coffee and liquor was enough to make me happy.
It’s still early days for UKI, but they’ve already managed to get most of the dishes right. Bongs looking for an authentic Bengali meal might be left disappointed, but there are several other places for that. UKI’s unique appeal lies in providing foodies in the city a unique opportunity to experience so many dishes under one roof. Where else can I dunk Luchis into Lal Maas and pair a serving of Natu Kodi Pulusu with Mishti Pulao?