Juicy kebabs, fragrant biriyanis, fresh vegetables and a host of other royal dishes await the guests at the Awadhi Food Festival at Peacock

Awadhi cuisine made popular by the Nawabs of Lucknow is known for its flavourful, meaty kebabs and dum-biriyanis. Dum, a style of cooking that involves slowly cooking meats in its own juices over a direct flame is quintessential to Mughal cuisine.

Rich aromas of meat and Indian spices waft in the air at the Peacock restaurant of Le Meridien Hotel where the ‘Shaam-e-Awadh'- Awadhi Food Festival is on. We begin the feast with some supervision by Velu Thirumalali, Executive Chef.

It is the famed Lucknowi Kebabs first. Soft cottage cheese finished off with a generous coating of malai is cooked in the tandoor to give it a smoky flavour. This is Panneer Malai Kebab. Then there is the Murgh Badami Kebab. Tender chicken marinated in a rich chilly and almond paste is garnished with badams.

Seer delight

For seafood lovers, the Mahi Lassoni Tikka which is seer fish marinated in a thick garlic and chilly paste and grilled is perfect. The fish inside remains soft and tender. Though not traditionally part of Awadhi cuisine, the Tandoori Achari Jhingha that has gigantic, crunchy prawns marinated in tangy mango pickle is definitely lip-smacking.

Soup is next. The Yakhni Gosht Shorba, a light soup made out of the extracts of mutton bone is refreshing. It is after the bones are cooked slowly for over six hours that the extract and the stock are used for the soup.

For the vegetarians, there is the Zaffarni Lasooni Subzi- a thin vegetable soup with saffron and garlic.

The main course offers Galouti Kebabs, that look like tiny cutlets. Made of minced mutton mixed with papaya paste, they just melt in your mouth and go perfectly with the Ulta tawa ka paratha topped with ghee. This is definitely a winner! And of course, there is biriyani! The traditional Awadhi Dum Gosht Biriyani has just the right amount of spice and masala, with the meaty flavour of the mutton.

There is the plain, steamed rice, too to be had with the Bandh Gobi Gosht Nihari. A fiery red mutton gravy that has cabbage ground into is perfect for those who like spicy food.

For the vegetarians, there is Paneer Lababdar- paneer cubes mixed in a rich cashewnut, tomato and onion gravy, or the Masale Dar Hara Sabzi, which has an assortment of vegetables cooked in a gravy of spinach.

Sweet ending

The dessert too lives up to the rest of the meal. A creamy yet light rice preparation, topped with badams, pista and raisins with a hint of saffron is Zaffrani Kheer. Have it with pomegranate and watermelon pieces. Fit for a nawab!

The ‘Shaam-e-Awadh' Awadhi Food Festival is on at the Peacock Restaurant, Le Meridien Hotel till January 29 from 7 p.m. onwards. For reservations, call: 0422-2364343.