Awadhi cuisine at Gokulam Park recreates the rich cuisine of Mughal kings

Ghee, butter, cream, cashews and all things luscious and delightful make Awadhi cuisine, says Manveer Singh, Chef de Partie of Periyar restaurant in Gokulam Park. And the spread at the dinner buffet certainly proves his word: it is an assortment of 10 vegetarian dishes and 5 non-vegetarian ones along with a variety of desserts. “Awadhi cuisine originates from Lucknow and is essentially the food of the Mughal kings. Hence the preparations are usually rich,” explains Manveer.

We open with Murgh Hara Dhaniya Shorba, a light broth of chicken stock well flavoured with coriander. You could also build up an appetite with the quick cuts of fiery Tandoori Chicken, served with coriander chutney to calm you tongue down after. There’s also Mughlai Subzi Tikki, small, tight cutlets of mashed and mixed vegetables, as well as a live chaat counter.

For the main course, we’re treated to the signature preparatory style of Awadhi cuisine - the dum method of cooking, which prepares food over a slow fire. In the non-vegetarian section there is Dum ka Murgh, a soft make of chicken in creamy gravy, and in the vegetarian section, there is Sabut Dum ka Bhindi - whole ladies finger marinated in heavy masalas. For lovers of fish,there’s Awadhi Seafood Lajawab with tender slices of melt-in-your-mouth fish, prepared somewhat like our fish moilee. “Awadhi food is traditionally non spicy,” says Manveer, “But since the Malayali palate is accustomed to spice, I’ve introduced green chillies and red chilli powder in a few dishes.” The Adraki Gosht - mutton done with ginger and garam masala is hence quite hot to taste.

The main course comes with some good Saffron Murgh Biryani, which Manveer says is the chef’s special for the day. The same comes with black channa instead of chicken, as well. In terms of curries, do sample the Subzi Makhmali, vegetables soaked in thick tomato gravy, Paneer Takatak, chewy paneer served alongside cripsy capsicum and the typical Rajdhani Dal. The dry dishes include the North Indian staples - Aloo Methi and Gobi Mutter Masala - both true to traditional style. The menu for the buffet changes each day of the festival.

To close a rich and heavy meal, there is mixed-fruit rabadi, a sweet dish made of condensed milk poured over slices of banana and grapes. Manveer also recommends the kaddu (white pumpkin) ka halwa and the coconut santara made from crushed coconut and orange. The dessert counter also has regulars such as the chocolate gateaux, orange flan, fruit terrine and apple custard. The festival is on for dinner (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) till October 13.

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