As far as destinations for fine dining in India go, the Leela Palace Udaipur is one to
visit. Sheesh Mahal, a terrace restaurant where
guests dine beneath the stars, as well as the interior Dining Room, are both counted within
Rajasthan's finest restaurants, where traditional cooking and
innovative culinary techniques meet.
To find out more about the Leela's restaurants, from special
dishes and locally sourced ingredients to their Rajasthani
specialties and spa fare, we spoke with Kayzad Sadri, the hotel's
Executive Chef Kayzad Sadri
leads the dining programme at the Leela Udaipur © Leela Palace Udaipur
You've spent the bulk of your career working for some of
India's most impressive hotels - the latest being the Leela Palace
Udaipur. How does a hotel's restaurant factor into its overall
Over the last few years, hotel restaurants have, with their
unique concepts, sleek design, and highly talented chefs, gained
prominence and now command a strong identity within a hotel. A
great example of this is our hotels in Mumbai and Delhi, which are
very well known for restaurants like Le Cirque and Megu.
One of the focuses of the Leela's menu is 'spa cuisine.'
Which dishes are best for guests looking for light and healthy
We at the Leela Palace Udaipur keep a lot of things in mind when
drawing inspiration for the menus, one of them being the need for
our guests to eat healthfully.
One example of a light and healthy dish on our menu is the
watermelon salad with feta cheese mousse, homegrown cress, and
sherry vinegar gel - it's spa cuisine that is also visually
stunning. Another example is pan-seared red snapper with Valencia
orange, fennel sauce, pistachio puree and braised beets, which is
Breakfast in the Leela's Dining
Room © Leela Palace Udaipur
Many of the restaurant's dishes use organic, wholesome
ingredients. Do you source ingredients locally? What difference
does that make in your fine dining in India?
We source exotic vegetables from a farm locally; in winter we
also have a small chef's garden on the premises where we grow
herbs, lettuce and vegetables. This makes a big difference to the
flavour profile of a dish, as ingredients taste better and more
natural when they are grown without preservatives.
We also source corn-fed chicken and duck from a local farm, the
flavour and texture of which are both superlative.
How does The Dining Room's menu blend different fusion
influences - from local culinary touches to international fine
dining techniques? Which other cuisines inspire you?
The Dining Room is a concept that allows the team of chefs here
a wide creative space within which to showcase their craft. The
international menu has dishes ranging from modern European cuisine
to Mediterranean, Thai, and beyond.
The Indian selection in The Dining Room also covers popular
cuisines from the length and breadth of the country, though it is
anchored by a strong selection of local Rajasthani cuisine.
Gourmet dining plus plush
accommodations make for a sumptuous experience © Leela Palace Udaipur
How is working in Udaipur different from New Delhi,
where you were based previously?
Udaipur is a beautiful, luxurious city that attracts travel and
food aficionados from around the globe. Given that it's a resort
destination, we can engage our guests with lavish culinary
offerings like a nine course degustation menu with wine pairing,
something guests in Delhi never have the time for.
How much do dishes at The Leela reflect Rajasthani
culinary heritage? Can you tell us more about some defining
elements of Rajasthani cuisine?
Rajasthani cuisine occupies pride of place on the menu at Sheesh
Mahal. The most defining element of Rajasthani cuisine is the
climate - a dry, long summer and absence of fresh produce for six
months of the year ensures that locals use a variety of milk
products and meat, especially lamb, which I may add is the best in
the country. Also, dry pulses and dry vegetables like ker sangria
and punkuta shaak are very unique to Rajasthani cuisine. Another
feature is the vegetarian diet of the Jain and Marwari communities
settled in Rajasthan. This cuisine is cooked in 'ghee' or clarified
butter, and uses lentils frequently.
The terraced Sheesh Mahal
restaurant overlooks Lake Pichola © Leela Palace Udaipur
When it comes to planning a menu, where do you begin?
What inspires you creatively when devising a dining
For me the, menu-planning phase is the happiest time of the
season. It is a creative process that gets everybody in the kitchen
excited. I also like to involve non-culinary team members of the
hotel in menu planning, as their feedback is often in line with
what our guests want.
Seasonality is also very important when planning a menu as it
assures proper availability when a particular ingredient is at its
What are a few of the hotel's signature dishes that
guests should try?
Guests can start their day with any of our three signature spa
juice offerings before moving on to a black truffle omelette or
baked eggs with parma ham and goats cheese. For lunch, our Angus
tenderloin burger, served in a brioche bun, can be ordered with a
thick slice of pan seared French foie gras - it's an over-the-top
burger experience. For dinner, guests can select from the grill
station, be it Wagyu sirloin or made-to-order lobster risotto, and
then finish with a baked-to-order soufflé.
Guests who like Indian cuisine are also well catered to, with
kebabs and biryanis for lunch and the quintessential Rajasthani
dish laal maas for dinner.
Sheesh Mahal is perfect for
romantic dining © Leela Palace Udaipur
You're also well-known for your desserts. What's the
most elaborate bespoke dessert that you've ever made?
I do have a sweet tooth! I remember in February we had a dinner
for a top food journalist's birthday and we decided to do an Indian
take on a baked Alaska. Since it was a formal dinner of about a
dozen guests I decided to flambé each portion at the table, so 12
plates of dessert were set aflame at the same time!