Value for money | Daily News
Restaurant review

Value for money

Indian Chef Singh
Indian Chef Singh

Sri Lankan cuisine has many healthy influences from neighbouring India. Having said that, Indian cuisine has garnered its own fan base in this island. Needless to say both countries enjoy the zest and flavour of spicy food. The Alhambra Restaurant has been operating at the Ramada Colombo, for almost four decades since this opulent hotel opened as Holiday Inn in the 1970s. This makes the Alhambra one of the pioneer hubs for traditional Indian cuisine, with emphasis from the Moghul Empire era. I have been able to savour the authentic Indian food here for many years. The unique selling point for this hotel is their weekly Friday night buffet. This also makes this Indian buffet the longest running of its kind in Colombo.

The buffet

I was at the hotel after the long pause brought upon the tourism industry by the Covid pandemic. The restaurant still had its refined and regal appeal. This adds to the overall dining experience. One of the beautiful visuals I always look forward to is the long line of copper pots, which make up the main buffet spread. However I didn’t hear the familiar sound of the live music group which normally plays soothing tunes. We started by having our soup- Creamy Mushroom Shorba. The soup tasted good, but its visual colour could be improved. When it comes to food, we appreciate the food with our senses first. There was a myriad of salads, of which I relished the Tandoori marinated seafood salad. They were fresh and supplemented the main buffet. From the main section we tried the prawn biriyani, which was cooked to perfection and lavishly released its vibrant alluring fragrance.

The Indian chef at Alhambra is certainly a master of this dish. For me the Gangura Mutton dish further enhanced the biriyani. This is a famous mutton preparation in India, and it was cooked nicely retaining the juicy texture of the mutton and keeping it soft. The other items were Chicken Shai Khurma and Machi Ka Jhol (fish). The latter went down well with some naan. There were some vegetarian dishes of which the black dal was a very good dish. The paneer kolaphuri was exceptionally good, as paneer is most commonly found in many Indian regions. After a rather heavy dinner, eating dessert is somewhat of a challenge. The traditional desserts were there as usual. The jelabi rings oozed with flavour and would have been a favourite among the children. I was surprised to see a type of western cake on the dessert table. This put a mild shade on an otherwise lovely authentic Indian buffet. The Indian buffet at the Ramada Colombo has witnessed the victories and vicissitudes of the tourism industry, but maintained its rich culinary legacy. Congratulations to the kitchen brigade of Alhambra Restaurant. The buffet is real value for money and a cool venue to unwind and enjoy a Friday night.

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