When there is an Awadhi food festival anywhere, you can judge the whole festival by their Galouti Kebab. If it is on the menu the day you go, that is! I’ve been unlucky sometimes, but time around luck was on my side. I am going to focus on two stunning dishes. Besides the great jelabi with curd that is apparently a breakfast staple in Lucknow.
The Galouti. The visiting chef, the winner of the first edition of Masterchef India has decided to serve the food of his hometown instead of doing it the Italian way! And just for that, my respects for him are high. With deep knowledge of the cuisine along with some technical things like the differences between attar and ittar (the former is a just a perfume and the latter can be used both for food and to smell nice!), the chef dissects the differences between Awadhi and Mughalai with ease. The use of saffron, rather the non-use of saffron seems to be the biggest difference and without the food being as rich and heavy as the Mughal counterparts, Awadh is one of my favourite Indian cuisines.
The night would have simply belonged to the Galouti kebab. The chef dismisses the story about the king who couldn’t chew and all that and insisted that the Kakori kebab is his favourite, toppling the Galouti, but there was no Kakori kebab on the menu that day. So, Galouti is still king. Whether there was a king behind the story or not. Beautifully spiced, soft and melt-in-the-mouth served on a tiny paratha, there was nothing to not love about the Galouti.
But there was an underdog who didn’t let the Galouti run away with the prize. The lamb gravy called the Karele ka Korma. If I wasn’t so biased towards a Galouti, the winner that night would have been this korma. Making a melt-in-the-mouth kebab with meat that was minced, then minced again and then made in to paste suddenly didn’t seem like a big deal. The gravy with chunks of mutton, almost as easily melted away. With the super soft naan, the sheermal, giving stiff competition to the evening that could easily be titled, melt-in-your-mouth, the lamb was simply the winner. But due to my self confessed bias, I will declare the lamb as the joint winner with the galouti.
I didn’t taste much else, but the little bit of biriyani, supposedly the king of rice, was overshadowed by its humble side-kick, the raita. So much so, that I left the biriyani alone and drank the bhagara baingan raita. Literally. With beautifully spiced curd with nice nutty flavour notes, the biriyani had no chance of competing.
This is possibly what happens when a passionate chef wins a Masterchef title and still goes back to his roots! Reasonable perfection at a young age!
Awadhi Food Festival is on till the 16th of April at the Dining Room, Park Hyatt, Velachery.
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