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Thursday, Oct 24, 2002

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Royal fare

The succulent meats are spiced to perfection and kebabs are done just right at the dum pukht food festival on at The Park, till October 27.

THE FOOD is of royal origin. One can almost hear the soft murmurings of silk and the tinkling of bangles and draw in the fragrance of khus scented punkahs, attar and rose water. Take the dastarkhwan from the courtly surroundings and place it in a bold, art deco interior of a coffee shop. Little hard to take, isn't it? Well, the cuisine is dum pukht and the setting, the `601' at The Park, next to Gemini Circle.

The dapper Qureshi brothers, Ashfaque and Irfan, have taken over the tandoor or the `lagan' and `dekchi' side of the kitchen. They did admit to the difficulties of sharing space with pastas and pizzas. And if they have used sun-dried tomatoes in the biriyani instead of dark dried plums, they are willing to talk about it. By the way, the tomatoes tasted great in the aloo bukhari biriyani.

The Imtiazi khana began with sumptuous kebabs. The pick of the platter was the paan ke kebab (Rs. 345). Delicate and smooth, it was gorgeous. It was a picture of understatement, no fiery fireworks, no over the top nuts or dry fruits, just faintly flavoured roasted brinjals wrapped in betel leaf. The wine leaves used in the original dish can't beat the distinctive betel leaf taste.

Another lovely improvisation was the Imtiazi kebab (Rs.395), which is a combination of Hyderabadi burra gosht and classic Lucknowi sheekh kebabs. The variation in the texture of the mince and shredded meat was interesting. The taftaan and nihari were good. Of course it was quite difficult to decide which was softer, the bread or the mutton. It sounds a bit far fetched to compare the meat with bread, but there is no exaggeration here.

Ashfaque shared the secret; it's all in the cut of the meat. What's more, they personally cut the meat to ensure that no two unlike cuts are used in a dish and each dish calls for a distinctive type of meat. The biriyanis of the night were Afghani and aloo bukhari. Again, the Afghani meat was perfect.

The dessert dum ki lauz was from Hyderabad. It is a typical example of Western influence, in this case French on Indian royal cuisine.

The buffet menu (Rs. 450) per person is inclusive of tax. The dum pukht festival is on till October 27.


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