The treasure trove of Awadh

Sheermal and Bakharkhani. Photo: Hari Shanker R.   | Photo Credit: Hari Shanker R.

Hot flavoursome biriyanis and meaty kebabs would be the first images that come to your mind when it comes to Awadhi cuisine. However, there is much more to this cuisine that originates from the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh (now Lucknow), than kebabs and biriyanis. The ongoing Awadhi Food Festival at Garden Grille restaurant, Hilton Garden Inn, is a veritable celebration of the multitude of delectable dishes from Lucknow.

“Awadhi cuisine is unique in the sense that it satisfies everyone’s palate,” says Arun R. G., sous chef at Hilton. “The cuisine, which draws inspiration from the Mughal style of cooking, offers a rich array of delicacies that ensures that there is a dish for one and all, irrespective of taste preferences,” he adds.

The restaurant is decked-up in Awadhi style with decorated tables and shehnai music playing in the background as part of the fete. Even the restaurant staff are donned in kurtas to recreate the setting of a Lucknowi ambience.

The sheer variety of the cuisine is evident as one takes a glance at the menu. “To make you fully aware of the diversity of the cuisine, each day of the 10-day fest, will feature an entirely different set of dishes served at live counters in a buffet format,” the chef mentions.

Each day features a unique amuse-bouche (an appetiser). There is a healthy variety of salads, starters and breads, as well as vegetarian and non-vegetarian side dishes and desserts for each day. Some of the many dishes featured across the week include Lamb Galouti Kebab and Chapli Kebab for starters, Sheermal, Bakarkhani and Munshi Naan as breads, Chilman Murgh Tangdi Biriyani (chicken biriyani), Lucknowi Gosht Biriyani (mutton biriyani), Lucknowi khatta Chengeji Gosht (mutton), Murgh Wazid Ali (chicken), Shajahani Paneer and Dahi Wala Baingan for the main course. The dessert offerings include Badshahi Mitha Roll and Jalebi with Saffron rabdi (prepared live). Vegetarians are also in for a treat, thanks to a neat line-up of vegetarian dishes as well.

The fete also features some interesting mocktails, namely the Aam Ras (prepared by mixing mango juice with salt, lemon and rocksalt for a tangy sweet/sour taste), the ‘Dil Se Lucknow’ (A kiwi fruit based cream with vanilla essence and litchi juice for a sweet taste) and the signature drink ‘Jashn E Awadh’ (a strawberry and banana based frappe).

What makes the cuisine from Awadh special? “The style of cooking as well as the richness of ingredients, makes each dish special,” the chef explains. “Tender meat is a major highlight of Awadhi cuisine. Most of the dishes are slow-cooked (in a lower temperature for a longer period) on top of charcoal – also known popularly as the ‘dum’ style. This adds a distinctive flavour and tenderness to meat and makes it well-marinated too,” he adds.

We decide to try out the Lucknowi breads for dinner. Starting off with the Paneer tikka amouse-bouche, we order the Sheermal (saffron- flavoured bread with yeast) and Bakharkhani (thick spliced bread prepared with flour, semorina, sugar and saffron) along with a Lagan ka Gosht (mutton dish prepared in a ‘lagan’ – copper like dish) and Akbari Paneer. Both the breads make an exquisite combination with the side dishes. While the Sheermal is soft, the Bakharkani is thicker. The mutton pieces in the Lagan kagosht are tender and yummy, thanks to a perfect marination. The dish was less spicy compared to other mutton dishes, which made it all the more delicious. The paneer dish was also quite palatable. The mocktails, especially the sweet/sour combination of the ‘Aam Ras’, gave a satiating conclusion to this memorable meal.

The fete is on till August 2. Timings: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The food is served in a buffet format and is priced at Rs. 1,200 per person (plus taxes). Each mocktail will cost an additional Rs. 300 (inclusive of taxes.)

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 9:30:17 AM |

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