Food as good as a slice of paradise on your table
True to the F&B understanding, ‘First dish is all that it takes to win a customer’, ‘Wazwan’ made a reluctant diner eat non-stop and return with a changed perception. The fest dispelled the notion that Indian food is all about greasy curries and spices. We wanted to give Wazwan, an ongoing Kashmiri fest at Ohri’s Tansen, a try to see how it is different from a Kashmiri food festival hosted by a popular five-star chain earlier.
Ditching the beer and the mocktails for Kahwa was a good idea. But it was not the Kahwa that sent us back home happy but the food served in due course of time.
For starters, there was succulent, generous-sized lamb ribs on mini hand-held coal chulhas. Called Tabak maaz, the pieces looked non-messy and the first bite was enough to make even gravy lovers smile blissfully. These ribs might appear dry, but once in your mouth, you have clarity about the term ‘juicy meat’. Cooked in milk and spices and then shallow fried, these ribs are heavenly in taste without spices or stick-on dry gravy. Oh, and never mind how well you are dressed to dine at this speciality eatery with its opulent interiors, use your hand to eat — it’s an Indian eatery after all. After the first bite of the ribs, the fuss and inhibition about Indian food served at standalone speciality restaurants was history. But this fest is not all about non-vegetarian Kashmiri food. Kashmiris eat vegetarian food as well, making good use of lotus stems, paneer and turnip.
For vegetarians there is Nadir Yakhni, lotus stem cooked in yogurt gravy and a variety of paneer dishes. The next course was the chef’s ‘show off’ breads. Show off because he knew what he was about to serve and wouldn’t let it go without being tasted. So triangles of golden-brown Indian breads, some with nuts and some without, were placed on our plates.
Hard crusted but soft inside, one of the buttery and slightly sweet bread was Bakarkhani. . And this bread goes well with the Aab Gosht (Dahi Yakhni) or Miirchwagan Korma — a traditional Kashmiri lamb curry in typical Wazwaan style. Yogurt lovers will love the goasthaba (also called the ‘King of dishes’) made with hand-pounded meat cooked in creamy milk and yogurt gravy. Next try the taftan. A tightly-layered bread soft which soaks in the gravy like a sponge from the kokur korma. The taftan is a slice of ‘jannat’ on the table.
The Kashmiri rajma is a must have here with the pulao. A speciality of the region, these tiny rajma beans are cooked in light tomato gravy and coloured with Kashmiri mirchi powder. If that sounds a little too hot, there is kahwa waiting for you at the table. And yes, Kashmiri pulao is not cooked with pineapple nor should look like a sweeter version of the lemon rice. Nuts are added to the pulao to only get a sweet feel when the nut is bitten, otherwise the pulao is not sweet. The non-veg version might not be loved by diehard biryani fans as it is absolutely dry, non-spicy and non-greasy. The festival is on till January 27 for lunch and dinner.