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Crazy about kebabs?

There is enough to choose from at the Taj Connemara food festival

The normally stolid, black waist-coated waiters at The Verandah in the Taj Connemara have exchanged their cummerbunds and cufflinks for bright red and gold-fringed jackets and turbans as the hotel's coffee shop celebrates a Tawa and Kebab Festival.

For the rest of the week the menu is a combination of kebabs and tandoor fare, which the chefs decide on each evening. The chefs have set up shop outside the Verandah's glass-panelled doors, beside the swimming pool, and bake, fry, roast and toss various meats and vegetables in the sweltering heat, while guests look on calmly from the air-conditioned comfort of the dimly-lit restaurant, serenaded by a group of ghazal singers.

The kebabs arrive as platefuls of flavour, colour and taste. The unmistakable tang of mint and coriander rules the vegetarian kebabs. The paneer achari tikka is drenched in masala, while the subzi hara seekh kebab relies entirely on its mint and coriander blend for taste. The subzi taka tak consists of ladies finger cooked on a tawa with a paste of mint and coriander. The baby corn and mushroom is saturated in a combination of flavours. The pomfret kebab's a bit tricky, though the seasoning with red Kashmiri masala gives it an unusual taste, while the Ajwaini machili tikka is firm and succulent with a touch of herbs. The shami kebab (mutton) is surprisingly spicy and the chicken kebabs are tender. The marinade of ginger paste, curd and lime give the kebabs a deep essence, which is offset by the various dips and masalas used for the final flavouring. Guests are served a complimentary glass of beer with the kebabs.

The rotis and naans are served with a smooth dal makhani. Try the kashmiri naan — it's got a lovely candied fruit taste that is accentuated by the simplicity of the dal. The biriyanis are flawless blends of flavour and fragrance and the mirchi ka salan is a perfect accompaniment.

For dessert, there's a lovely variety to choose from — the rasamalai, kala jamun and kulfi are delicious but the winner is the moong dal halwa, which has a wonderful caramelly texture and taste and is not overly sweet.

The Tawa and Kebab Festival is on till April 25, 7.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. at The Verandah, Taj Connemara, Binny Road and is priced at Rs. 550 inclusive of taxes.


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