The Residency's Hyderabadi food festival has the regular delights, cooked differently
The first thing the chefs showed us were the spices— roots like ratan josh and betel, and kashmiri chilli and poppy seeds. The Hyderabadi fest, this year, has gone back to the basics, using traditional spices like those mentioned and, the mysterious potli masala.
We start off with shikampuri aloo tikkis. These potato cutlets are spiced and have finely chopped and pounded vegetables in them. They make the perfect starters- oily but light. They go wonderfully with the tricolour chutneys- chilli, mint and garlic.
The garlic chutney and sheermaal are the stars of the festival. The former wears beige colour and has a bit of peanut in it too. It is sautéed before being pulverized into delicious chutney. Almost anything goes well with this buttery chutney.
I try it out with tandoori pomfret and dakshin murgh. These kebabs are marinated with hung curd and Hyderabad's potli masala. The muslin potli (same as potlum in Tamil) has aromatic herbs and spices. The ingredients are unique to and, closely guarded by each kitchen. It is tossed in while cooking and its aromas penetrate deep into whatever it is cooked with.
Chef Ashok tells us that hung curd not only binds the kebabs, but also minimizes the need to use lime juice as marinade. The citric acid of the juice roughens the surface of meat.
The combined flavours of curd and masala put the proverbial chaar chand into these starters. The garlic chutney and the kebabs are just made to be together, with you, forever.
Keep some space for the main course. Of course there are the usual biriyanis, but Team MetroPlus insists you go straight to the Sheermal. This farsi flatbread beams of ghee and saffron. It's mildly sweet and salty and, goes really well with any of the side dishes— vegetarian or non vegetarian. It has nuts and flavours and all that's nice. You will not regret just eating it alone, or maybe even with ice cream.
Try it out with the bagara baingan and order for some spinach, done with cream. The latter is fabulous. It's also accompanies well with haleem. Hyderabad's famous haleem is a salty porridge of broken wheat and mutton. The strong flavour of mutton, derived after slow tempering, is evened out with a sprinkling of lime juice.
The Residency promises to have all of Hyderabad's traditional sweet dishes like kubani ka meetha, kaalaa jaamun and firni. We are served the Gulqand. This rose preserve has petals, honey and host of other ingredients like bits of jamun. It tastes most reassuring, after the meal. Gulqand has a host of healing properties. It cools and, heals ulcers and eye inflammation. It's also a really nice dessert. It is also dense and you can't have too much too fast. The kulfis— strawberry (recommended), pistachio and saffron- are also very good.
During the whole exercise if the spices get the better of you, cool off with the almond and rose sharbat.
The Hyderabadi Food Festival is at the Pavilion restaurant, Avanashi Road. It is on till September 26. The buffet is for lunch and dinner on Sundays and only for dinner on other days. Charges are Rs. 550 for adults and Rs. 300 for children. Call 0422 2241414 for reservations.
Keywords: Hyderabadi food festival