I have made my love for Ayna pretty clear in my previous posts and an invitation to try out their new Hyderabad food promo was welcomed with open arms by me and my blogger friends who came along to revisit this wonderful Indian restaurant at Hilton.
I was expecting my favorite gulkhand mojito to welcome me, but the chef refused! He said I have to try their new drink and all of us agreed and he brought out a winner! A drink, slightly milky, but watery enough to quench your thirst, with cashews, rose petals and a few more condiments, served chilled. It was like drinking melted kulfi ice cream. The first set had ice cubes in them, so if you leave it for long, the ice melts and spoils the drink, so if you plan to drink it slowly, ask for it to be chilled and not with ice cubes.
But as usual the starters were stunners. The first one, a lal mirchi Jhinga, a superbly flavored tandoori prawn was loved by all of us, except of course the one vegetarian blogger who did not try it out. And there was this dahi kebab, which I had first tasted at marriott and kept raving about it, but chef Vijay has cracked it and bettered it! He added some spices and cashew to it and made it a brilliant kebab. While the Hyderabad mirchi murgh and the shami kebab were all nice, the galouti kebab was almost perfect. Almost because while the kebab itself was perfect, mouth melting, superbly flavored, it was served on small rotis, instead of bigger ones, so there was more kebab than roti and half the kebab was eaten without the roti. Thats why I said it was near perfect. My vegetarian friend did enjoy her stuffed chili bajji and her paneer, but I was not able to judge the vegetarian food after eating so much meat.
I have always been a fan of their Zafroni parota and asked the chef to make me one, but while he gave me the Zafroni, he insisted that I try their new breads, of which the roghani naan turned out to be great. Super soft inside, slightly sweet and milky. The lal mirchi roti was nice, but though it looked hot and spicy, it was pretty mild. After these wonderful starters, the main course gravies were slightly off the mark, maybe because of the high standards or the starters. I did like the mutton dalcha, but others were ok. While you know that I have not rated any biriyani very highly anywhere, Ayna was no different. Good biriyani, but not great. The deserts were too sweet and all of us felt that it had to be toned down.
Overall, we had a great time. My recommendation at Ayna would be to go big guns on starters with their breads and you will be very happy. While the food was very good for the most part, it lacked the zing of Hyderabad cuisine, primarily because the hotels caters to a large number of foreigners and they were not too keen on their guest smoking from their ears. So, while the food fest lasts till next Sunday, Ayna is a great place for Indian fine dining, with its palace like setting, great staff and a chef who is willing to listen and cook up anything you feel like eating, within his resources. Ayna continues to be my first choice for Indian fine dining.
I would rate the dining experience at Ayna, a 4/5.
My favorite dishes were the guloti kebab, the prawns, and the indian breads.
Ayna is at the Hilton, near Kathipara junction.
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