Indian fare has been all the rage in the world for quite a while now, thanks to a number of award-winning restaurants that have done their part in putting our varied cuisine on the global map. From our beloved chaats to rich and royal meat-based dishes, the world’s food scenario has welcomed Indian food with open arms, watering mouths and plates ready to be filled with food. So while the world makes itself privy to the gems of our cuisine, I came across Hyderabad's The Pink Elephant—the brainchild of chef Mrigank Singh—a restaurant that has not only borrowed from our culinary heritage, but also taken it up quite a few notches by fusing it with modern elements. While reading a sentence like this might be just a little confusing, by the end of this piece there will not be a doubt in your mind about what contemporary Indian cuisine actually is. So shall we?
First impression is the last impression: Ambience While India has always been associated with a lively scene full of colour, enthusiasm and a certain whimsy, The Pink Elephant leaves no stone unturned to transport you into a similar world. The 180-seater restaurant is further divided into four sections: the Fountain Courtyard, the Monument Room, the Elephant Lounge and the Courtyard. Located near the entrance, the two courtyards are bathed in peppy and vibrant colours, instantly lifting your mood from the moment you step foot in. Further inside you’ll walk into the monument room, sporting a remarkable black Taj Mahal. And finally you have the elephant lounge, separated into two levels, making it the perfect area to enjoy your lunch or even a couple of drinks as the sun sets at happy hour. They also have a private dining room in the first level, equipped with a dedicated bar, a long table sporting a bone inlay; perfect for big gatherings. At The Pink Elephant you’ll find a number of elephant statues (and as a challenge you can even try to count them and see how many you can spot), handcrafted and painted. All the décor sprucing up the space at this eatery are hand crafted and flown in from different regions of India in an attempt to encompass the vastness of our culture.
Shall we sit down to eat? The founder and executive chef at The Pink Elephant, chef Mrigank Singh, has inculcated his extensive expeditions and experiences to curate a menu that brings the best of our diverse cuisine under one roof. While maintaining a strict policy to uphold the authenticity of each dish and conducting a number of kitchen trials to evoke a sense of novelty, the menu here hosts an assortment of bold and simple flavours. We started off with a bowl of chicken shorba soup and asparagus shorba soup, and an amuse bouche featuring watermelon, feta cheese, peanuts and thecha. Rich and creamy, while I am not a fan of soups, this bowl was one I couldn't let go off until it was empty. Apart from the soup I also indulged in the Majestic Chicken, Pepper Chicken Lollipop, Chicken 65 and Andhra Fish Fry. For those looking for recommendations on the vegetarian menu, do try their assortment of paneers, Aubergine Fries, Malai Broccoli and Stuffed Mushrooms all paired with their garlic dip and pomegranate chutney. For main course we went all out with, right from their Plantain Galouti—Lucknowi-style kebabs made with raw banana— to Jackfruit Tacos, Pepper Chicken Tacos and more. I also sampled a unique Mutton Dahi Vada, sporting all the flavours of you street-side dahi vada, with the added richness of mutton; Pathar ka Gosht, Hyderabad’s iconic lamb dish; a South-Indian Platter featuring Crab Vadas, Patra ni Machhi, Fried Surmai, Fish Pickle, Sol Kadhi and Sundal. While each dish here is steeped in robust Indian flavours and techniques, The Pink Elephant’s fish preparation stand-out especially. One recommendation of mine that you absolutely cannot miss out on is the Shack Style Fish, championing a red snapper fish marinated and fried with Indian spices, a dish native to the coastal area of Mahabalipuram.
The Pink Elephant is equipped with a well-stocked bar that is all things classic, contemporary and fun. Featuring 33 classic cocktails, about six signature cocktails and a number of non-alcoholic drinks, you'll never run out of options here. The drinks are made with a special focus on technique and local ingredients, such as the Kesaria, a cocktail made with kesar infused gin. It’s smooth and the slight hints of saffron just elevates the taste. However for those who are a little more adventurous than me can definitely opt for TPE Rasam, a spirited concoction of tadka ghee washed tequila and Indian spices.
Who can forget dessert? After a lavish meal comes the time for dessert. As someone who loves a sweet treat I left no stone unturned. Starting with the OG Shahi Tukda and Rasmalai Cake, these are perfect options for those who love a true-blue Indian dessert. Their menu also offers a Malwa Pudding, which is essentially a South-African sweet dish, if you wish to bring a little foreign flavour to the table. The Gadbad Falooda is a fantastic take on Karnataka’s famous gadbad ice cream, served in a tall glass topped off with a cherry and the Classic Trifle comes with a little extra kick of rum for those who fancy it.
The final verdict Here I am going to be honest with you. On this visit I attempted to eat almost every dish placed on the table. I ate to the point I was full and still couldn't stop. Throughout the meal, I had my eye on their various fish preparations, be it fried, steamed or in a curry. The Shack-Style Red Snapper was a true delight followed by the assortment of desserts. But should I be presented with another chance to visit I’d go back for it all. In fact, I don't think I’ll wait that long to make it happen again.
Where: 2-91/9, Laxmi Cyber City Lane, Whitefields, HITEC City, Hyderabad, Telangana Contact: 091549 98635
Natasha Kittur is an aspiring writer. Her love for anything with cheese and spice is profound, but a white sauce pasta always tops her list. In her free time you will catch her reading or watching crime books and shows or go on and on about psychological experiments and theories. She aims to write a book in the fictional genre someday.