‘Shahi Davat', a Nawabi food festival is on at Travancore Court Hotel. The food is, indeed, fit for royalty.
East India Company (the restaurant) is all dressed up for the occasion too. The décor (for the food fete) is kitsch; shiny turquoise blue and bright fuchsia fabric hung like drapes. At the entrance to the restaurant is a scaled down (in terms of size, raw materials etc) version of India Gate.
And on a corner of the buffet table there is faux, again scaled down and maida-coated (the colour almost matches!) Taj Mahal. The staff has clearly gone to great lengths to create the ambience for there is a sombrero clad merry Mexican (doll) with a stole thrown over him.
The fest (dinner/buffet) boasts of royal sounding dishes alright. There is Dal Sulthana, Methi Malai, Bagara baigan, Rada (Rara?) Gosht, Chicken Lababdar…these are just samplers. There are almost 10 vegetarian dishes, an equal number of desserts; the usual vegetarian and non-vegetarian shorbas (soups); plenty of non-vegetarian fare too; rice and Indian breads (live and brought to the table);
there is raita, dahi bhalla, kadi pakodi etc…and if you are not feeling like loading up on the ‘rich' food then there is the live chaat counter. For those who like the food of the seas, there is ample choice though Nawabi cuisine is more to do with meat than fish. There is a daily change of menu.
We want to keep it simple and therefore the Chef Anil Kumar recommends Chicken Lawabdar, Nawabi Chicken Biriyani and Mushroom Saagwala. And the action starts with a refreshing fruit juice (there is grape here, melon there…orange?) and the soups follows. Next comes the ‘main' course. The biriyani looks pretty and again kitsch in parts.
Chicken Lawabdar is of a fiery hue (red/russet/orange) perfect for that naan or rumali roti or maybe even that Lasuni kulcha.
The mushroom saagwala is nice, bright and green, “no artificial colours, this is the original colour of spinach,” assures the Chef. The biriyani is not loaded with masalas and is easy on the belly too. The mushrooms were done well, firm and you can taste the mushroom. The desserts; the kheer and the rasmalai were delicious. There are the other ‘continental' desserts as well.
Nawabi dawat would conjure visions of all manner of exotic foods, rest assured you are bound to like it as there are no surprises but there is profusion of variety
The fest concludes on May 9. The buffet costs Rs. 400, taxes included.