Eating out The food festival at Hilton Janakpuri celebrates a traditional style of cooking
Istill remember visiting my grandmother who lived in a small town of Uttar Pradesh, Rampur, during my summer vacations. And the best thing which still rekindles my mind is the tasty food she used to prepare for us in a kachchi haandi (unglazed pot). The food was cooked on a low flame and had the aroma of the earthen vessel. My cousins and I would be licking our fingers after eating those delicious meals.
After years I got the chance to eat similar food at Hilton Janakpuri which is conducting a unique Kachchi Haandi Food Festival at its Indian restaurant Zune till October12. This time it was prepared by Chef Irfan who also hails from Uttar Pradesh but from Lucknow. The menu he created was simple and well selected. I started with fish, Haandi Macchi Chili Masala. The large chunks of sole were tender and tangy. Haandi Boti Masala Kabab was a bit spicy but delicious. It did justice to its name keeping the texture of the boti intact and was not too tender — otherwise it would have tasted like a burra.
But the best was the Haandi Ki Bhuni Tangdi. Well seasoned drumsticks of chicken marinated in two stages for almost 15 hours, the dish had absorbed the flavours to its core. It was juicy and tender with the soothing fragrance of the haandi.
All the three starters were accompanied by onion rings and mint chutney. The vegetarian Dal Paneer ki Tikki was also tasty and filling. But now it was time to try out some serious food, Kacchi Haandi ke Ghee Dum Murgh. The chicken was presented in a sealed kachchi handi placed on stones and charcoal. As soon I de-sealed it, the aroma emanating from the piping hot dum murgh was divine. It was smooth textured boneless chicken gravy, low on spices and full of the taste and aroma of desi ghee. Haandi ka Dhaniya Gosht was also delicious. Even Haandi Paneer Bhujiya was tasty and went well with the pudina laccha paratha.
Though every dish was up to the mark, Chef Irfan’s expertise was best illustrated by the Haandi Ka Palak Halwa: Truly delectable. The chef had managed to retain its original light green colour and, cooked it to perfection and topped it with finely grated pistachios and almonds. One of the most innovative and tasty desserts I have tried in recent times.
POT OF GOLD
What: Kachchi Haandi Food
Where: Zune, Hilton Janakpuri
Price: A meal for two costs Rs.1200