Chennai, Oct 31 (IANS) The Culinary Express at the Ayna restaurant in Hilton Chennai at Guindy is now chugging at good pace with the on-going Hyderabadi food festival – the second in the series, the hotel’s top chef said.
“The Culinary Express concept is simple. Like an express train that halts at major stations, every month we will hold a region-specific food festival. The first stop for our Culinary Express series was the Kerala food festival last month,” Yogendra Pal, executive chef at the Hilton Chennai, told IANS.
“Next month we will hold a Goan food festival followed by Rajasthani, Punjabi, Delhi and going up to Kashmir. We bring expert chefs from our properties located in those regions to whip the dishes at Ayna,” Pal remarked, offering the tasty special rose milk as the welcome drink.
The concept could also be seen differently. Like a railway station, where trains from different regions come and halt, at Ayna this time the aromatic Hyderabadi food festival train has pulled in.
Devouring the smoky flavoured char-grilled in tandoor Hare Masale Ka Murgh (half a chicken braised in green herb paste) the question arose: Why Hyderabadi food festival? Why not Telangana food festival as Hyderabad is now part of Telungana?
“The Hyderabad region offers several interesting dishes. Our festival menu lists many dishes like Dalcha ghost (spring lamb braised with yellow lentils and tempered with asafoetida and red chillies) that are not commonly featured by hotels during food festivals,” Pal said.
In the same vein he added: “Our Culinary Express will continue to chug and we will certainly have a Telangana food festival.”
While the tasty crispy and not spicy Laqumi (spiced lamb mince deep-fried pastry) and the Garle (minced lamb dumplings) started vanishing from the plate, Pal said the beauty of Indian cuisine is its variety – regional and intra-regional.
For vegans, there are appetisers like Kairi Bharri Shammi Kebab (pan fried vegetable patties filled with raw mango and yoghurt mix) and Achari Aloo (baby potatoes marinated in traditional pickling spices and grilled in tandoor).
According to Pal, Indian cuisine also poses the greatest challenge for a chef as compared to any other cuisines of the world.
“As compared to the western cuisines, there is logic in each cooking process in the case of Asian cuisine,” he said offering small portions of the main course and accompaniments.
For non-vegans Dalcha Ghost, Hari Mirch Ki Chaap (lamb chops braised in a green chilli and yoghurt gravy), Ananas Aur Murgh Ka Salan (chicken braised with pineapple) and Zaffrani Dum Ka Murgh (chicken cooked with saffron and cream) are there to be enjoyed.
Fishaterians can go for Machhi Ka Salan (fish catch of the day braised in a tomato and tamarind gravy).
Biryani lovers can choose between Hyderabadi Kacchi Gosht Ki Biryani (lamb cooked along with the rice) and Hyderabadi Pakki Biryani.
Vegetarians should not miss the mild and yummy Kaddu Ka Dalcha (pumpkin cooked with yellow lentils) and the Paneer Aur Tamatar Ka Kut (cottage cheese braised in a tomato and tamarind gravy).
These can be had with Indian breads – roti/naan/laccha paratha, khameeri roti and khasta paratha.
As for dessert, Kaali Mirch Aur Gur Ki Ice Cream is most recommended as one can enjoy the flavour of pepper as well as the jaggery.
According to Pal, a meal for two would cost around Rs.2,000, including taxes.
The festival is on till Nov 2.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])