Last week I had an amazing experience to savour the flavors of Awadhi cuisine. I was invited to be a part of Awadhi food festival hosted by ITC Maratha in all splendor to celebrate the traditional cuisine of Lucknow – You feel like a royalty when you enter Dum Pukht . The décor recreates the era of Nawabs and kings of Mughal emperor that gives you a royal feel of warmth , richness and leisure to augment your dining experience. The ceremonial dining spread laden with the finest repertoire of exquisiteness to savour in a Mughal ambience. The interiors are reminiscent of a period stamped by rich conventions of craftsmanship . Sparkling gold patina of fish-scale reflected “chinikhanas” decorated the walls while glass “Shamadans” stand sentinel on the floor.
Cuisine from Awadh comes with a legacy from the Nawabs and the kings. With heavy influences from the Mughal cooking techniques such as Dum, Awadh cuisine bears striking resemblances to those of Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad. It’s essence lies in its richness with liberal use of exotic spices.While Awadhi cuisine is predominantly known for its non-vegetarian delicacies, I wanted to explore the vegetarian delicacies of this region.
It’s a 5-course meal.We started with Kabab (veggie ones) First one was Kham Khatai– Its delicate aromatic patties of green moong lentils , spiced with brown cardamom seeds, blades of mace and saffron. Another one Seekh Nilofari – Its mix of puffed lotus seeds and otus stem, flavoured with fresh herbs and grilled on a skewer and sprinkled with aromatic kebab masala. I really liked this one not just for its flavor but for its preparation and it was very soft and delicious.
Now it’s was time for Main course Qorma, Qaliya & Salan
Four different subz that will make you drool over it. Starting with Qasr-e pukhtan -which is made of Paneer cubes simmered in silky fresh tomato gravy, flavoured with royal cumin seeds and dried fenugreek leaves. Subz Miloni – A mélange of seasonal vegetables cooked in a smoth green puree of spinach flavoured with white cumin seeds and garam masala. Dum Pukht Badin Jaan – It looks like cup cake shape but I never used to eat brinjals at home let me tell you friends this one was literally awesome it’s slices of round brinjals marinated,shallow friend and topped with tomato concase and garlic flavoured spiced yoghurt. The preparation is what makes every dish unique. The richness,color , texture is beyond the satisfaction. Last one was Mash Qaliya – Sounds filmy!! Isn’t it? Well its split gren moong lentils, slowly cooked with spinach and fresh ginger and green chillies.
I was almost done for the day when I got to know Biranj is still left. Guchhi Pulao just made my day.The smell of saffron seasoned basmati rice and flavor of morels stuffed with herbed cheese and finished in a sealed handi with cardamom.
Kuch Meetha ho Jaye! We come to the end before we leave let us have the sweet taste in mouth. Shahi tukda – An exotic dessert of sabbron rabri, spread on a sliceof syrup soaked homemadebread and garnished with silver leaf, pista and almond. What can you expect when you have three desserts in a row. Gulab ki Kheer– the name itself make it intrigued I definitely gonna have a taste. Basically it’s rice delicately cooked on low heat with milk and rose petals.
My Verdict – The combination of luxury and leisure makes it a unique experience to savour the Awadhi Cuisine. Don’t miss it if you are in Mumbai .
Cost – Rs 5000/- for two people ( VAT & service charges extra )