Try the robust flavours of the Peshwari cuisine at Residency Tower

From the rugged lands of the North West Frontier Province comes a delectable cuisine that can be best described as robust. Although the food is mostly non-spicy, the dishes are balanced with usage of cream, cheese, dry fruits and saffron; the result, food for the body and soul.

An ongoing food festival at Residency Towers brings customers some of the best of Peshwari cuisine in a rustic setting at their roof-top Dhabba restaurant.

We seat ourselves at a table that faces the panoramic view of the city. The aromas that float from the open kitchen whet our appetite. Tall glasses of chilled aam ka panna and a basket of roasted papads are placed before us as a gesture of welcome.

Everything on the menu looks good. After much deliberation, we decide on Makhmalli paneer tikka, Jhinga Mehrunissa and Kaghzi Kebab as appetizers. Jhinga Mehrunissa is the star of our meal with its tiger prawns marinated with saffron and cooked in the tandoor. The pieces of prawns are juicy and melt in the mouth.

Artfully arranged in a pappad, roasted and shaped like a basket, the cheesy curd marinade made the paneer tikka soft and succulent, but it fails to tickle my taste buds. The Kaghzi kebab, which is pieces of well marinated chicken drumstick grilled to perfection and placed on beds of mashed mildly seasoned mashed potato that have been shaped into pates, is also well plated. A spoonful of sweet and sour tamarind sauce is poured on to each pate as a dipping sauce. It was a melange of flavours, right from the grilled drumstick to the creamy potato and the tanginess of the sauce.

I take sips from the fragrant Yakhni soup. A clear, lamb broth, the first sip was a little bland, but the flavour gets better and soothing as I take a couple more.

The Peshwari cheese naan which has bites of garlic in it goes well with the Murgh taar kurma and Murgh shahi Peshwari. While both dishes seem similar, both have distinct flavours. The Murgh taar kurma is rich and creamy, and the Murgh shahi Peshwari is faintly sweet with its use of nuts and sultanas.

Although the Keema paratha can be had on its own, it does go well with the Salan sada, a mildly spiced brown gravy mutton dish. As a Peshwari meal seems incomplete without biryani, we share Peshwari murgh biriyani. The biriyani is a treat for those who like subtle flavours in their food.

Stuffed, we decide to split a plate of Gajar ka halwa. And we are glad we did; it was a fitting end to a splendid meal.

The Peshwari festival is on in the evenings from 7 p.m. till 11 p.m. until February 9. Contact: 2331661