You may not learn the secret of a great kebab, but you can certainly taste it at The Residency's food fest

“Put the pen down and eat,” instructs Chef Robi Roy sternly. He can’t stand that I’m talking to him instead of eating the hot kebabs placed before me.

“They are getting cold,” he admonishes me. I taste them one-by-one — the chicken, fish, prawn, paneer and mushroom kebabs as he, along with chefs Zashimuddin and M. Manohar, explains what went into making them. The chefs have put together an interesting line-up of vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs for the kebabs and curries food festival at The Residency.

“All the kebabs have been cooked in clay tandoors,” explains Robi. “This way, the flavours seep into the meat.”

The Bhatti Da Murgh, a chicken kebab and the Teen Mirch Ka Jhinga, a prawn kebab, are proof to this. With the meat well-cooked and just the right amount of spices, the kebabs are excellent. The Mahi-Be-Nazeer, made of sear fish, is just as good.

Zashimuddin says that the menu consists of kebabs from Hyderabad, Lucknow and Bengal. “Kebabs from Lucknow are extremely rich. They are cooked with a generous smearing of ghee.”

If rich kebabs are your choice, there’s plenty to pick from. The Makkhan Chooze de Tikka, for instance, comes wrapped in cream cheese while a cauliflower kebab called Sarsoonwali Makhan de Phool comes stuffed with cream cheese and nuts.

The Hari Mirch Palak Bharwan Khumb, is one of the best vegetarian kebabs on the menu. The mushroom kebab has a mildly-spiced filling made of cream cheese, palak and coriander. Paneer is at its softest best in the form of the Sialkot tikka — it just melts in the mouth. The chefs have also made a sweet-tinged paneer kebab that has a stuffing made of dried figs and green chillies.

From the simple dal makhani to Ambada Murgh, a dish of chicken cooked with many spices, the Festival also features an interesting offering of vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries. The Dekhani wale gosht, could be a mutton-lover’s delight. The reddish gravy has flavourful chunks of mutton floating in oil.

If you’d rather stick to good-old paneer masala, try the paneer lababdar Amritsari, a sweetish dish that has a rich flavour, thanks to Robi’s touche.

Phool gobi mushroom ka salan, a mushroom and cauliflower curry, Mogewala kukarh, a chicken tikka curry, Chingri malai, a prawn dish and Bandh gobi ke kotte, a curry made of cabbage balls, are some of the other curries on the menu.

So, what is the secret to the perfect kebab? “I will not divulge it,” smiles Zashimuddin. “It’s inside the pages of an Arabic book of recipes Naaveena Ustad, my first teacher, gave me when I was a little boy.”

The ‘Kebabs and Curries Fest’ will be on till February 4 at Afghan’s Grill, The Residency. The restaurant is open for dinner from 7 p.m. onwards.

For details and reservations, call 98430-71777 and 89037-17742.