Rajasthan Rifles is an exploration into the coming together of two cultures. Anglo-Indian cuisine is the delicious by-product of a fragile period in history. One of the first places that these two cuisines met was in the army. In the 1920s the British Indian Army stationed in the subcontinent started accepting Officers of Indian heritage and the mess halls were where everyone came together to eat but also to socialise, play cards and connect. While the relationship between the two nations was, to put it mildly, fraught, the cuisines came together in a surprisingly harmonious and lasting manner. In the same way that chutney has found itself into basically every cheese sandwich in Britain and curry has become one of their national foods, in South Asia club sandwiches, chicken chops, tea drunk with milk and a love for whisky and gin, have all taken root in much of the region. And of course, in the charming way that these things evolve, the adopted dishes have all been given their own regional twist at the hands and palates of those making them.
The Rajasthan Rifles ultimately became the Rajputana Rifles, now the senior-most rifle regiment of the Indian army and famed for their bravery and skill, but popular legend has it that there was one unit of the Rajasthan Rifles that were better known for their fondness for whisky, gin, cricket and grand balls than for combat. “Rajasthan Rifles is Black Sheep Restaurant’s salute to what we imagine their Officers’ mess hall was serving. A lot of us South Asian kids grew up hearing military stories from our Grandfathers, we have added a hearty dose of fantasy to those rose-tinted memories of a tense time. Even now mess halls in India and Pakistan have a lot of pomp and ceremony around them, the food is always simple but delicious and we keep that ethos at Rajasthan Rifles, simple food with great ingredients, executed well” says co-founder Syed Asim Hussain.
This will be Black Sheep Restaurants’ first foray onto the Peak and unlike other eateries in the neighbourhood, it aims primarily to serve the residents. “We hope to create a hub for the people who live in the area, serving them from breakfast until late and offering membership to the Rajasthan Rifles Peak Society to anyone who lives on Stubbs Road or above, allowing them the exclusive perk of table bookings at any time at Rajasthan Rifles” comments co-founder Christopher Mark.
Executive Chef Palash Mitra of the group’s Michelin-starred tandoor grill house, New Punjab Club, oversees the kitchen which will ultimately welcome guests daily from breakfast onwards. For now hikers and dog walkers can enjoy the evening views from the 45-seat patio while undoing all their good work with a hearty Rajasthan Rifles Club Sandwich ($148), bloomer filled with chicken tikka chaat, masala omelette, tomato chutney and English cheddar or a hot, sizzler plate of Soola Salmon ($278), ideally washed down with a refreshing Minted Pimms Cup ($98). At dinner, the tandoor is fired up and chef puts out smoky plates of Goat Seekh Kebab ($228) spiced with green chillies, roasted cumin and loaded with cheddar cheese. Or familiar, comforting curries like Butter Chicken ($178) a favourite dish of chicken tikka in tomato and butter, or Dal Rifleswala ($108), the cook-room’s signature slow-cooked lentils, smoked over embers.
The interiors transport guests through a sepia lens back to the tropical heat of Rajasthan. The design with its two main materials of dark timber and brick embodies the simplicity of an Officer’s mess hall, but is layered with vintage details through the footlocker bases on the banquette seats, rattan, milk lights and officer themed uniforms for the service team.
Rajasthan Rifles is currently open from noon until 10 pm, Tuesday to Sunday. The mess hall takes limited bookings at dinner time but also welcomes walk-in guests. Rajasthan Rifles Peak Society members will be able to make reservations at any meal period. For more information on membership please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
G/F, The Peak Galleria, Hong Kong
(Opposite Peak Tram)
Tuesday to Thursday: 12PM-10PM
Friday to Saturday: 12PM-10:30PM