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On a Mediterranean voyage

The Mediterranean food festival at Encounters in Taj Krishna is the answer to the adventurous foodie's prayer for something exotically different.

DIFFICULT CHOICE: Chef Melhem Karaky.

AFTER QUESTIONS of life, the universe and everything have been answered, the only one that remains, as we all know is where shall we eat tonight. And the answer is not the restaurant at the end of the universe (not yet at least), but Encounters at Taj Krishna where you could sample Lebanese, Egyptian, Turkish and Syrian delights at the Mediterranean food festival.

Though Lebanese Chef Melhem Karaky (who has come down from Souk, Mumbai) hates to play favourites and would like you to try out everything on the a la carte menu, he relents and makes a few suggestions.

For starters you could go for Kibbe (a Syrian preparation of deep fried ground lamb and cracked wheat shells filled with meat and pine nuts) or Sambousik (the fried pastry crescents with meat and pine nuts are a hot favourite in Beirut) or the absolutely delicious Spinach Fatayer (the oven-baked pastry triangle - like a samosa with spinach, pine nuts and feta cheese finds its roots in Damascus).

In grills, one could check out Kebab Meshwi (ground lamb flavoured with parsley and Lebanese spices) or Grilled lamb chops (the Athenian delicacy is marinated with cumin, cinnamon, garlic and onion.

Syaddieh (fish with Egyptian rice) occupies pride of place in the main course with Roz bi Dfeen (a kind of chole rice) and Filfil Mahshi (bell peppers served with a mildly spiced tahina sauce) come a close second.

On the sweet side is the divine baklava. While opinion is divided on its origins with the Turks, Greeks, the Lebanese and the Egyptians claiming to have invented it, there is no argument about its rankings on the taste-o-metre.

WORLD CUISINE: A fine opportunity to check out different tastes.

Chef Karaky imports the pastry sheets and takes over two hours to make this mixed nut pastry. You can go totally native and indulge in the hookah with imported flavoured tobacco (grapes and rose).

The festival is on for lunch (12 pm to 3 pm) and dinner (7.30 pm to 11 pm) till August 31.


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