What's cooking? Awadhi cuisine over slow flame (Foodie Trail)
Apart from ingredients, it is the flame that plays an important part in imparting taste to food; in Awadhi cuisine, the food is cooked over slow fire, said a senior five star chef.
"Good food is a combination of ingredients, and the time when they get added to the food that is being cooked is important. It is equally important to know whether the food needs to be cooked in medium, high or low flame, to bring out its taste," Yogendar Pal, executive chef at Hilton Chennai, told IANS.
Hosting the Awadhi food festival at the hotel's Ayna restaurant between April 23 and May 2, Pal has prepared an elaborate menu for the occasion for vegans and non-vegans.
"But any food would taste good if it is cooked by your heart's flame," the senior chef at Hilton chuckled.
The Awadhi cuisine is basically from the current Lucknow region in Uttar Pradesh, a region that is also known as Awadh.
The aroma of spicy gosht ka arak soup (essence of lamb scented with saffron and cardamom) is delectable.
According to the 42-year-old Pal, one of the key attributes of Awadhi cuisine is the slow cooking process, faithful to the Mughal influence of bringing out subtle flavours.
Does Chef Yogi, as he is popularly known, get requests for 'Yogic' food by foreigners?
He replied equally in jest, in the negative, and offered the vegetarian soup kaaley channey ka shorba (essence of black chick peas flavoured with roasted cumin and fresh coriander).
Taster's portions of appetisers also arrived at the table.
The harrey masaley ka murg (half a chicken marinated in a green marinade, slow cooked); lagan ki boti (spring lamb braised in a traditional Awadhi copper utensil with warqi paratha) and galouti kebab tasted great.
The small crunchy warqi parathas vanished from the plate in no time.
The vegetarian appetiser's khumb ki galouti (pan fried mushroom kebab); balai ka paneer tikka (cottage cheese marinated in a cream and carom marinade and tandoored) and chowk ki tikki (spiced potato galette filled with green peas with tamarind and mint chutney) competed with one another for space.
A product of the Institute of Hotel Management, New Delhi, Pal has worked in major hospitality groups like the Taj and the Oberoi and joined Hilton last November. As he was recounting his experiences, small portions of main course and accompaniments arrived on the table.
For the non-vegans dum ki nalli (spring lamb shanks braised in a fried onion and spice gravey); khatti macchi (fish braised in yoghurt gravy); and Awadhi speciality murgh korma and chukandar gosht (spring lamb braised with beetroot and raw mangoes) are there to be relished.
One can have them with warqi paratha, sheermal or khamiri roti.
For those who want rice-based dishes, there is vegetable biryani, minced lamb pulao with lentils and fresh fenugreek.
Pal offers several options to vegetarians as well, including tamatar ka dulma (tomatoes filled with spiced green pea mash braised in a tomato and fennel gravy) and bharwan dum ki lauki (bottle gourd filled with cottage cheese, braised in cashew nut and saffron gravy).
The veggie dishes were as 'savourable' and were as elaborate and time-consuming to prepare as the non-veg ones, according to him.
For those having a sweet tooth, lacchedar rabri is the recommended item.
A meal for two would cost between Rs.2,500 and Rs.3,000.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 30-04-2014)