Awadhi Festival at The Masala Bay Taj Lands End Mumbai – A bit about Awadhi Cuisine , a native to Lucknow, which is the Capital of Uttar Pradesh in North India. I heard one great Chef saying it’s very closely related to Bhojpuri cuisine of the neighbouring region Bhojpur. After which I have not heard much about Bhojpuri part. Cooking Style somewhat similar to Central Asia/Middle east and Obviously Northern India (Both Vegetarian and Non Vegetarian) this cuisine is greatly influenced by the Mughlai Cooking style or you can call it the Nawabi Food.
We all have heard about the DUM STYLE of Cooking ( Slow Fire ) which was Invented by the Bawarchis ( Chef’s ) and Rakabdars ( Gourmet Cooks ) They do Boast of their kebabs/Kormas/Biryani/Nihari-Kulchas/Waqri Paratha and the list can go on and on.
When it comes to Modern Indian Cuisine one name stands out – QURESHI’S OF LUCKNOW (maybe the pioneers on Indian cuisine, Traditional style of cooking)
Here we have Chef Sadab Qureshi ( Young and Dynamic ) an ex Westin now with Masala Bay who has curated this Menu specially for the Awadhi Festival which is ON from the 11th Aug Till 21st August and has been extended till maybe the end of this Month. Its Extended till 3rd of Sept 2017(Sunday)
Not going much into other details let’s start with what we had. Before I start would Like to tell you that it was an amazing experience (meeting the chef) interacting with him and knowing more about the famous cuisine which we are proud of.
Started with CHARDONNAY Tarapaca 2016 – deep yellow gold, having intense aromas of tropical fruit with a note of citrus and vanilla.
Instead of going for half/full portions we asked for tasting portion of some of the Signature starters both vegetarian and non vegetarian and small portions of the mains and desserts.
Coming to the Vegetarian:
Badami Tandoori Aloo – Rich/Aromatic. Nut Based marinade. Stuffed Potato drenched in Nut based (almond) marinade and Tandoored to perfection. Soft and has lovely balance of spices and aroma.
Nashboo Paneer Tikka- When they use Khoya/Cheese and Nuts this has to be rich at the same time Aromatic and full of flavours. Chunk of Paneer cooked in tandoor. No flaw. Nailed it.
Hajratgunj Ke Shaam Ki Chaat – A major shopping area in the heart of Lucknow but one can get the best of Chaats in this area as well. This Chaat which the Chef has introduced in the menu is a household name. I have had a Spinach Chaat before but this one had Spinach and Brinjal with Tamarind/Mint Chutney/Curd and a surprise element was shredded beetroot. Garnished with pomegranate and cilantro. Had that Sweet/Tangy/Crunchy taste to it. Served COLD on a crunchy Spinach. Served Fresh. Loved it.
Non Vegetarian Starters:
Kakori Kebab – This has and will always be called the KING of kebabs. Fantastic texture. Mouth watering. Minced lamb with special Kakori spices. (One gets Cardamom/Peppercorns (Hit) Cloves/Mace (Javitri) and many more spices. End result – YUM. Texture wow.
Chunks Ke kebab – Another famous place is Aminabad (heart of Lucknow) known for iconic eating joints serving amazing kebabs. Chef Sadab has done nailed the finely minced Lamb kebab. This has a different texture. Not that soft but has its own speciality. Correct balance of spices and Aroma.
Mughlai Jheenga – Jumbo Prawns (fresh catch) Rich/Buttery. Garlic Marinade and kebab masala Tandoored to perfection. Maybe a bit of Cream (not sure) but wow. Spices and aroma no complaint. Had a lovely sheen to eat.
Coming to Mains:
Vegetarian – Tried Phali Ki Subzi (Cluster Beans) Semi Dry Preparation, Onion/Tomato gravy with ginger/garlic had a good punch to it. Spices Subtle. Overall a good dish which went well with Khameeri Roti.
Paneer Pasanda – Rich and Creamy. This is all about Awadh food. Cream/almond/Onion Lovely texture. Cashew nut based. Paneer Stuffed with Khoya cream. A bit of Spices. Overall lovely preparation. Can’t go wrong with this.
Dal Sultani – Preferred the Yellow Lentil over the Kali Daal and this was awesome. Garlic all the way. Garam Masala and a bit of Ghee/Oil floating. Looked rich tasted better. Perfect with Biryani/Plain Rice.
Non Veg Mains:
Kareli Roganjosh – for me this was the star dish of the day. Just amazing. It’s Legendary. Prepared to perfection. Shin meat of lamb had that velvety texture. Lamb slow cooked. Soft juicy melted in mouth. Spices aroma perfect flavoured with Badi Sauf (Fennel) can’t get better than this.
Awadh Murgh Korma – Frankly did not try this lovely chicken dish but looked good. Korma is an Indian name for a technique of braising meat. Had that Velvety texture spiced sauces. Chunky of boneless chicken. Could not have gone wrong with this.
Macchi Ka Salon – Yum. This had thin Slices of Fish (Pomfret) in Salan gravy made Awadhi style (rich / Creamy) Garlic/Mustard/khus khus a bit of oil cream to get the texture. Overall lovely flavours and rich in taste. Garnish of Cilantro enhanced the Flavours.
Breads: Khameeri Roti/ Masala Naan (Red chilli and masala) this went well with the above dishes.
Aloo Mutter Ki Tahiri – Popular rice dish (call it Pulav/Biryani) but is made of Potato and green peas. Very popular in UP. Nice long grain basmati rice lovely fragrance and flavour. Could not find oil. Overall perfect light went well with the Raita served (Tomato/Cucumber/Onions/Masala) Loved this.
Shahi Tukda – wow this was rich. Hot milk spices, saffron, cardamom and garnished with pistachio. Loved it.
Gulab Jamun – Steaming hot made in house a bit sweet for me but loved it. Topped with Pistachio.
Lahsoon Ki Kheer – Usually Kheer is Rice and Sugar but here the Chef has prepared using Milk/Garlic (that’s culinary art for you) one can’t get the taste of Garlic as the same time the texture is different. The method is different. Garlic soaked overnight goes into saffron and then mixes with the Milk. All said and done this was good.
Overall – what do is say about this amazing Lunch. It’s good to know that they have extended the festival. One has to go there soon to RELIVE AWASH cuisine with Chef Sadab Qureshi.