Food spot Metroplus

The multi-layered cauldron

Two distinct dishes being served at the ongoing festival at IGNCA Photo Shanker Chakravarty.

Two distinct dishes being served at the ongoing festival at IGNCA Photo Shanker Chakravarty.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

The festival at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts offers an array of dishes from different parts of the country

The days before Diwali are always busy. If you can cope with the maddening traffic, there are a great many interesting shows in the city that you can go for. Classical music concerts are being held in some parts; and some colourful dance shows in other parts. And in most places, there is good food to be had.

I went to the festival of culture at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and had a very nice time, indeed. I like going to the IGNCA. It’s bang in the middle of the city – on Mansingh Road at one end and Janpath on the other.

Usually there is enough space in the complex for parking, but this time I found that cars had to be parked outside the sprawling centre. I found a small spot, and entered to discover that the place was awash with colour and sound. Drums were beating somewhere, and there were people dancing to the rhythm. I saw a bit of that and went to the area that interested me the most – the food court.

There are stalls there from various parts of the country. Nagaland, for instance, has some interesting pork dishes (including pork pickled in oil for Rs.100), Assam has steamed fish (and a crab platter for Rs.150), Sikkim has momos and Manipur for some reason has only vegetarian food to offer. I went around the stalls once stopping to have a look at the Maharashtrian stalls (with some spicy mutton and chicken dishes, prepared by the Maharashtra Sadan cooks in Delhi) and the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana stalls where dosa batter was being evenly spread out on hot tawas.

There was a stall from Dilli 6 (I thought it would have kababs, but they were busy frying bhaturas), one from Amritsar and a couple from Uttar Pradesh. The Kashmir stall had some of the region’s special dishes, and a host of little kiosks sold sweets, from hot jalebis to cold rabri and kulfi.

I was tempted to buy some food from the Bihar stall, for I have become quite fond of Bihari food. But what I was looking for was their delicious garlic mutton. It turned out that the food was all vegetarian and litti chokha was the dish most in demand.

So I moved to a Hyderabadi counter and sniffed the aroma in air. The flavours were appealing, so I asked for a plate of mutton biryani, and some haleem (both for Rs.180 a plate).

From the Rajasthan counter we packed some vegetarian thalis – one with ker sangri ki sabzi and the other with gattey ki sabzi. The thalis came with missi roti and jawar rotis, and a churma laddoo. Gattey is a particular favourite of mine, so I was looking forward to my dinner back home.

And the dinner was very nice, indeed, but for one mishap. Instead of mutton biryani, the Hyderabadi stall’s staff had packed chicken biryani for me. But the haleem was so good that it made up for the error. It was thick and creamy and simply delicious. The meat mash was topped with chopped coriander, fried onions and small broken pieces of peanuts, which really added to the taste.

I ate this, and then tried out the rotis and the Rajasthani sabzis. The rotis, I am afraid to say, were so hard that I feared I needed to visit my dentist. But the gattey ki sabzi was excellent – soft and spicy and in hot gravy. The sangri wasn’t bad either, and had been tarted up with pieces of pickle in it.

The IGNCA festival is on till Sunday. It’s a place that one has to visit for a photography exhibition, for cultural shows, for the spectacular art work and, of course, for the food.

Let’s go dip into the multi-streamed cauldron.

(the writer is a seasoned street food connoisseur)

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 12:31:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-multilayered-cauldron/article7851318.ece

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