Chef, Chef's Special, Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Fusion, Indian, Pop Up Dinners, South Indian

Big Bandha takes a walk in The Park

A few months ago there was a tiny stall at a food exhibition that emitted some damn good smell. Intrigued, we walked in and sadly very few items were left. Clearly, the aromas reached more nostrils than I thought. Baked Parota. Lasagna styled Parota. Paya Ramen. Mexican Bhel. Clearly the guy who is doing this was nuts, I thought. We got the baked parota and as we dug in, we couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces. Soaked in a ‘salna‘, a form of thin gravy found in South Indian households, the parota was fabulous. Plus it had a smoky cheesy notes that probably came from the oven in which he baked something else before our dish.

Three days back, I met the guy behind this. He is nuts. What else can explain a finance company’s CEO with no chef training going around creating confusing flavours that is supposed to be the exclusive property of molecular gastronomy? As Manoj and The Park hosted me for dinner, course after course, came dishes with varying influences connected by two things. A story and no compromise on flavours. Everyday Exotics at The Park, curated by Manoj is an exotic take on every day dishes, but each one has been loved by somebody before going on the menu.

Like the Bombay Toast stuffed with chicken and pickles. Uh? Yes, uh! A sweet bread dish with pickles and chicken? Inspired by his son’s breakfast. That is the story. A Panko fried idly with spicy molaga podi (spicy chilly powder mix). Idly and Panko? Like really? I missed the Mexican Bhel at the exhibition, but thankfully it was on the menu here. All things Mexican tossed in Indian Bhel puri style.

Jack Slider. While I would call any vegetarian burger as Vada Pav, Manoj’s burger made me eat my words. A beautiful vegetarian slider. A Thai inspired burger, it had jackfruit in it and the lemongrass in the bun. In the BUN! So the flavour of lemongrass was unmistakable and overpowering, like it should be, but the jackfruit held its own as the patty. This is a vegetarian burger! Something that doesn’t have to be called the Vada Pav.

A vegetarian paya. Simply, that cannot exist. Cooked the ramen style, this had top ramen noodles in a paya. While they have the mutton paya, the veg paya was able to bring the soothing elements that the mutton paya brings. I almost wished I had fever, to relish it. Since a paya goes great with idiyappam (String hoppers), the stringy noodles were able to do justice.

The baked parota. Yay! As I was digging in, I could not but notice the smoky cheesy smell. I looked up. Did he bring the same oven? Or did he cook another dish that the parota took up the flavour? Apparently not. Apparently, it was intentional. To have a smoky flavour? A parota lasagna is creative enough, but to add a smoky BBQ flavour to an already Indo-Italian fusion? Are we aiming for World war here? So, Manoj keeps visiting Nagoor Dargah and in the streets of Nagoor, apparently they dole out parotas using stones that have been smoking for over two or three decades. And that infuses a smoky flavour into the parota that he wanted to recreate. Now, I want to go to Nagoor and eat that parota. More importantly, I could sleep. The baked parota at the food exhibition wasn’t a borrowed flavour.

I was too full for dessert, so I just picked a spoonful of the beautiful saffron ice cream and the chocolate, but was too overwhelmed to judge it. Maybe I will go back and have that. And the jack slider. And maybe the parota as well. Let’s see.

On till the 31st of July, Every Exotics is available both as a four course degustation and a-la-carte. At 899 for a four course degustation, it is ridiculously priced. A 5 star four course for under 1k? Awesomeness.

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Slider, South Indian

Nawab’s Kitchen on a Time Machine

What would happen if this happened? If indeed there was a time machine that took away the chefs from the Nawab’s kitchen and transported them to a time far away in the future, that is. Or if our minds cannot comprehend something that sounds as blasphemous as that, how about taking the cuisine of the Nawabs and adding a healthy dose of molecular gastronomy to it? I would expect disaster. Plain and simple disaster. A cuisine that is rich and grandiose being fused with a technique and concept that is minimalistic is bound for failure. Or at least you can’t do justice to both.
The chefs at J’Hind though, have nearly pulled it off!

An attukal paya, a simple soup made of lamb bones with strong Indian spices was re-imagined with a coconut heavy broth and the spices in a tea bag. Though mild, the memories of attukal paya was unmistakable. A truly wonderful soup with all the elements of a restaurant that tries to add a modern touch to cooking; a little theatre, a little innovation, but staying true to the flavours. On our second visit we got a good prawn soup with the same coconut heavy base, but it didn’t live up to our first visit’s mutton soup.

Yes, I jumped straight to the soup, but you get some pre-appetisers, an amuse-bouche of sorts with a platter of spheres that is now cliche! On the opening night, the galouti had dried out terribly, but thankfully in our second visit, the kebab was juicy. I don’t know why it was served on a plate of fried noodles though. It didn’t do anything to the dish, except maybe making it look slightly prettier.

And then a round of starters, each one vying to grab our attention and space in our tummies. The smoked lamb, no, no liquid nitrogen, but a smoke gun with wood. The smoke just carassed the already beautifully cooked, juicy lamb meat with a tinge or smokiness. Not overwhelming, but simply the right amount to retain its original flavours and add some meaning to the theatrics. That lamb was hard to beat. The liquid nitrogen based theatrics with a frozen bread pappdi chat, with a hint of shahi tukda was interesting. A hard and nearly terrible paneer tikka and a fantastic samosa completed the starters.

The first of the main courses was a tiny surprise. A bunny chow. Now, I don’t know when a bunny chow got into the kitchens of the nawabs! A molecular version with a tiny bread bowl filled with mutter gravy. Being bite sized, it disappeared in no time at all.

Then came the hits and the misses. Three dishes were spot on. The lamb gravy with a lamb so juicy, it could be reclassified as a beverage! A fish tikka with a fried fish lined up instead of being dunked in the gravy was rather unique. A single large prawn perched on an egg was lip smacking. There was a bread basket with a fabulous dried tomato roti, a saffron roti and paratha. And the hero of the day, the Arcot Biriyani was…….well…..disaster! I guess the rest of the meal set the expectations and expectation don’t go well with biriyani and the biriyani simply did not live up to the rest of the meal and was ordinary at best. In fact, calling it ordinary is doing great service to a terrible biriyani!

The dessert was minimalistic to look at, but quite rich in its composition. A blob of rich badam halwa was satisfying to the tummy (though the heart may have had trouble with the, well, healthy dose of ghee), the crisp shahi tukda with a molecular gastronomy styled sheer sphere on a fried bread, with the exact same emotions for the heart and a paan shot to coat the stomach. A dose of theatrics came again in the form of a quick liquid nitrogen chilled jackfruit ice cream.

Priced at Rs. 1650 plus taxes for the non veg (I think the veg is priced about Rs. 200 lower), this is a nearly 10 course degustation menu based on the cuisine of the Nawabs of Arcot. I was there for the opening night and went back with a friend a couple of days later, so this is based on two visits. The festival is on till the 31st of July at J’Hind, the modern Indian restaurant at Grand, by GRT.

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Slider, South Indian

Nawab’s Kitchen on a Time Machine

What would happen if this happened? If indeed there was a time machine that took away the chefs from the Nawab’s kitchen and transported them to a time far away in the future, that is. Or if our minds cannot comprehend something that sounds as blasphemous as that, how about taking the cuisine of the Nawabs and adding a healthy dose of molecular gastronomy to it? I would expect disaster. Plain and simple disaster. A cuisine that is rich and grandiose being fused with a technique and concept that is minimalistic is bound for failure. Or at least you can’t do justice to both.
The chefs at J’Hind though, have nearly pulled it off!

An attukal paya, a simple soup made of lamb bones with strong Indian spices was re-imagined with a coconut heavy broth and the spices in a tea bag. Though mild, the memories of attukal paya was unmistakable. A truly wonderful soup with all the elements of a restaurant that tries to add a modern touch to cooking; a little theatre, a little innovation, but staying true to the flavours. On our second visit we got a good prawn soup with the same coconut heavy base, but it didn’t live up to our first visit’s mutton soup.

Yes, I jumped straight to the soup, but you get some pre-appetisers, an amuse-bouche of sorts with a platter of spheres that is now cliche! On the opening night, the galouti had dried out terribly, but thankfully in our second visit, the kebab was juicy. I don’t know why it was served on a plate of fried noodles though. It didn’t do anything to the dish, except maybe making it look slightly prettier.

And then a round of starters, each one vying to grab our attention and space in our tummies. The smoked lamb, no, no liquid nitrogen, but a smoke gun with wood. The smoke just carassed the already beautifully cooked, juicy lamb meat with a tinge or smokiness. Not overwhelming, but simply the right amount to retain its original flavours and add some meaning to the theatrics. That lamb was hard to beat. The liquid nitrogen based theatrics with a frozen bread pappdi chat, with a hint of shahi tukda was interesting. A hard and nearly terrible paneer tikka and a fantastic samosa completed the starters.

The first of the main courses was a tiny surprise. A bunny chow. Now, I don’t know when a bunny chow got into the kitchens of the nawabs! A molecular version with a tiny bread bowl filled with mutter gravy. Being bite sized, it disappeared in no time at all.

Then came the hits and the misses. Three dishes were spot on. The lamb gravy with a lamb so juicy, it could be reclassified as a beverage! A fish tikka with a fried fish lined up instead of being dunked in the gravy was rather unique. A single large prawn perched on an egg was lip smacking. There was a bread basket with a fabulous dried tomato roti, a saffron roti and paratha. And the hero of the day, the Arcot Biriyani was…….well…..disaster! I guess the rest of the meal set the expectations and expectation don’t go well with biriyani and the biriyani simply did not live up to the rest of the meal and was ordinary at best. In fact, calling it ordinary is doing great service to a terrible biriyani!

The dessert was minimalistic to look at, but quite rich in its composition. A blob of rich badam halwa was satisfying to the tummy (though the heart may have had trouble with the, well, healthy dose of ghee), the crisp shahi tukda with a molecular gastronomy styled sheer sphere on a fried bread, with the exact same emotions for the heart and a paan shot to coat the stomach. A dose of theatrics came again in the form of a quick liquid nitrogen chilled jackfruit ice cream.

Priced at Rs. 1650 plus taxes for the non veg (I think the veg is priced about Rs. 200 lower), this is a nearly 10 course degustation menu based on the cuisine of the Nawabs of Arcot. I was there for the opening night and went back with a friend a couple of days later, so this is based on two visits. The festival is on till the 31st of July at J’Hind, the modern Indian restaurant at Grand, by GRT.

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Slider, South Indian

Nawab’s Kitchen on a Time Machine

What would happen if this happened? If indeed there was a time machine that took away the chefs from the Nawab’s kitchen and transported them to a time far away in the future, that is. Or if our minds cannot comprehend something that sounds as blasphemous as that, how about taking the cuisine of the Nawabs and adding a healthy dose of molecular gastronomy to it? I would expect disaster. Plain and simple disaster. A cuisine that is rich and grandiose being fused with a technique and concept that is minimalistic is bound for failure. Or at least you can’t do justice to both.
The chefs at J’Hind though, have nearly pulled it off!

An attukal paya, a simple soup made of lamb bones with strong Indian spices was re-imagined with a coconut heavy broth and the spices in a tea bag. Though mild, the memories of attukal paya was unmistakable. A truly wonderful soup with all the elements of a restaurant that tries to add a modern touch to cooking; a little theatre, a little innovation, but staying true to the flavours. On our second visit we got a good prawn soup with the same coconut heavy base, but it didn’t live up to our first visit’s mutton soup.

Yes, I jumped straight to the soup, but you get some pre-appetisers, an amuse-bouche of sorts with a platter of spheres that is now cliche! On the opening night, the galouti had dried out terribly, but thankfully in our second visit, the kebab was juicy. I don’t know why it was served on a plate of fried noodles though. It didn’t do anything to the dish, except maybe making it look slightly prettier.

And then a round of starters, each one vying to grab our attention and space in our tummies. The smoked lamb, no, no liquid nitrogen, but a smoke gun with wood. The smoke just carassed the already beautifully cooked, juicy lamb meat with a tinge or smokiness. Not overwhelming, but simply the right amount to retain its original flavours and add some meaning to the theatrics. That lamb was hard to beat. The liquid nitrogen based theatrics with a frozen bread pappdi chat, with a hint of shahi tukda was interesting. A hard and nearly terrible paneer tikka and a fantastic samosa completed the starters.

The first of the main courses was a tiny surprise. A bunny chow. Now, I don’t know when a bunny chow got into the kitchens of the nawabs! A molecular version with a tiny bread bowl filled with mutter gravy. Being bite sized, it disappeared in no time at all.

Then came the hits and the misses. Three dishes were spot on. The lamb gravy with a lamb so juicy, it could be reclassified as a beverage! A fish tikka with a fried fish lined up instead of being dunked in the gravy was rather unique. A single large prawn perched on an egg was lip smacking. There was a bread basket with a fabulous dried tomato roti, a saffron roti and paratha. And the hero of the day, the Arcot Biriyani was…….well…..disaster! I guess the rest of the meal set the expectations and expectation don’t go well with biriyani and the biriyani simply did not live up to the rest of the meal and was ordinary at best. In fact, calling it ordinary is doing great service to a terrible biriyani!

The dessert was minimalistic to look at, but quite rich in its composition. A blob of rich badam halwa was satisfying to the tummy (though the heart may have had trouble with the, well, healthy dose of ghee), the crisp shahi tukda with a molecular gastronomy styled sheer sphere on a fried bread, with the exact same emotions for the heart and a paan shot to coat the stomach. A dose of theatrics came again in the form of a quick liquid nitrogen chilled jackfruit ice cream.

Priced at Rs. 1650 plus taxes for the non veg (I think the veg is priced about Rs. 200 lower), this is a nearly 10 course degustation menu based on the cuisine of the Nawabs of Arcot. I was there for the opening night and went back with a friend a couple of days later, so this is based on two visits. The festival is on till the 31st of July at J’Hind, the modern Indian restaurant at Grand, by GRT.

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Slider, South Indian

Nawab’s Kitchen on a Time Machine

What would happen if this happened? If indeed there was a time machine that took away the chefs from the Nawab’s kitchen and transported them to a time far away in the future, that is. Or if our minds cannot comprehend something that sounds as blasphemous as that, how about taking the cuisine of the Nawabs and adding a healthy dose of molecular gastronomy to it? I would expect disaster. Plain and simple disaster. A cuisine that is rich and grandiose being fused with a technique and concept that is minimalistic is bound for failure. Or at least you can’t do justice to both.
The chefs at J’Hind though, have nearly pulled it off!

An attukal paya, a simple soup made of lamb bones with strong Indian spices was re-imagined with a coconut heavy broth and the spices in a tea bag. Though mild, the memories of attukal paya was unmistakable. A truly wonderful soup with all the elements of a restaurant that tries to add a modern touch to cooking; a little theatre, a little innovation, but staying true to the flavours. On our second visit we got a good prawn soup with the same coconut heavy base, but it didn’t live up to our first visit’s mutton soup.

Yes, I jumped straight to the soup, but you get some pre-appetisers, an amuse-bouche of sorts with a platter of spheres that is now cliche! On the opening night, the galouti had dried out terribly, but thankfully in our second visit, the kebab was juicy. I don’t know why it was served on a plate of fried noodles though. It didn’t do anything to the dish, except maybe making it look slightly prettier.

And then a round of starters, each one vying to grab our attention and space in our tummies. The smoked lamb, no, no liquid nitrogen, but a smoke gun with wood. The smoke just carassed the already beautifully cooked, juicy lamb meat with a tinge or smokiness. Not overwhelming, but simply the right amount to retain its original flavours and add some meaning to the theatrics. That lamb was hard to beat. The liquid nitrogen based theatrics with a frozen bread pappdi chat, with a hint of shahi tukda was interesting. A hard and nearly terrible paneer tikka and a fantastic samosa completed the starters.

The first of the main courses was a tiny surprise. A bunny chow. Now, I don’t know when a bunny chow got into the kitchens of the nawabs! A molecular version with a tiny bread bowl filled with mutter gravy. Being bite sized, it disappeared in no time at all.

Then came the hits and the misses. Three dishes were spot on. The lamb gravy with a lamb so juicy, it could be reclassified as a beverage! A fish tikka with a fried fish lined up instead of being dunked in the gravy was rather unique. A single large prawn perched on an egg was lip smacking. There was a bread basket with a fabulous dried tomato roti, a saffron roti and paratha. And the hero of the day, the Arcot Biriyani was…….well…..disaster! I guess the rest of the meal set the expectations and expectation don’t go well with biriyani and the biriyani simply did not live up to the rest of the meal and was ordinary at best. In fact, calling it ordinary is doing great service to a terrible biriyani!

The dessert was minimalistic to look at, but quite rich in its composition. A blob of rich badam halwa was satisfying to the tummy (though the heart may have had trouble with the, well, healthy dose of ghee), the crisp shahi tukda with a molecular gastronomy styled sheer sphere on a fried bread, with the exact same emotions for the heart and a paan shot to coat the stomach. A dose of theatrics came again in the form of a quick liquid nitrogen chilled jackfruit ice cream.

Priced at Rs. 1650 plus taxes for the non veg (I think the veg is priced about Rs. 200 lower), this is a nearly 10 course degustation menu based on the cuisine of the Nawabs of Arcot. I was there for the opening night and went back with a friend a couple of days later, so this is based on two visits. The festival is on till the 31st of July at J’Hind, the modern Indian restaurant at Grand, by GRT.

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Indian, Slider, South Indian

Nawab’s Kitchen on a Time Machine

What would happen if this happened? If indeed there was a time machine that took away the chefs from the Nawab’s kitchen and transported them to a time far away in the future, that is. Or if our minds cannot comprehend something that sounds as blasphemous as that, how about taking the cuisine of the Nawabs and adding a healthy dose of molecular gastronomy to it? I would expect disaster. Plain and simple disaster. A cuisine that is rich and grandiose being fused with a technique and concept that is minimalistic is bound for failure. Or at least you can’t do justice to both.
The chefs at J’Hind though, have nearly pulled it off!

An attukal paya, a simple soup made of lamb bones with strong Indian spices was re-imagined with a coconut heavy broth and the spices in a tea bag. Though mild, the memories of attukal paya was unmistakable. A truly wonderful soup with all the elements of a restaurant that tries to add a modern touch to cooking; a little theatre, a little innovation, but staying true to the flavours. On our second visit we got a good prawn soup with the same coconut heavy base, but it didn’t live up to our first visit’s mutton soup.

Yes, I jumped straight to the soup, but you get some pre-appetisers, an amuse-bouche of sorts with a platter of spheres that is now cliche! On the opening night, the galouti had dried out terribly, but thankfully in our second visit, the kebab was juicy. I don’t know why it was served on a plate of fried noodles though. It didn’t do anything to the dish, except maybe making it look slightly prettier.

And then a round of starters, each one vying to grab our attention and space in our tummies. The smoked lamb, no, no liquid nitrogen, but a smoke gun with wood. The smoke just carassed the already beautifully cooked, juicy lamb meat with a tinge or smokiness. Not overwhelming, but simply the right amount to retain its original flavours and add some meaning to the theatrics. That lamb was hard to beat. The liquid nitrogen based theatrics with a frozen bread pappdi chat, with a hint of shahi tukda was interesting. A hard and nearly terrible paneer tikka and a fantastic samosa completed the starters.

The first of the main courses was a tiny surprise. A bunny chow. Now, I don’t know when a bunny chow got into the kitchens of the nawabs! A molecular version with a tiny bread bowl filled with mutter gravy. Being bite sized, it disappeared in no time at all.

Then came the hits and the misses. Three dishes were spot on. The lamb gravy with a lamb so juicy, it could be reclassified as a beverage! A fish tikka with a fried fish lined up instead of being dunked in the gravy was rather unique. A single large prawn perched on an egg was lip smacking. There was a bread basket with a fabulous dried tomato roti, a saffron roti and paratha. And the hero of the day, the Arcot Biriyani was…….well…..disaster! I guess the rest of the meal set the expectations and expectation don’t go well with biriyani and the biriyani simply did not live up to the rest of the meal and was ordinary at best. In fact, calling it ordinary is doing great service to a terrible biriyani!

The dessert was minimalistic to look at, but quite rich in its composition. A blob of rich badam halwa was satisfying to the tummy (though the heart may have had trouble with the, well, healthy dose of ghee), the crisp shahi tukda with a molecular gastronomy styled sheer sphere on a fried bread, with the exact same emotions for the heart and a paan shot to coat the stomach. A dose of theatrics came again in the form of a quick liquid nitrogen chilled jackfruit ice cream.

Priced at Rs. 1650 plus taxes for the non veg (I think the veg is priced about Rs. 200 lower), this is a nearly 10 course degustation menu based on the cuisine of the Nawabs of Arcot. I was there for the opening night and went back with a friend a couple of days later, so this is based on two visits. The festival is on till the 31st of July at J’Hind, the modern Indian restaurant at Grand, by GRT.

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Chennai, Dhaba, Eating out, Indian, North Indian

Balle Balle on a Chennai highway

A few meters of the highway is where the dhabas are, aren’t they? It is not very different here. With most of the roads of Chennai becoming a highway (or has always been one and we only recently noticed), a few meters of it is a nice dhaba. But then, it is right in the heart of the city and inside a small mall! Its been around for a while now, but I only got there last week.

Chennai used to have a fabulous dhaba a few years back, with large chicken tikkas and excellent dhal, but it slowly faded into a poor copy of its old self. I guess it never got replaced for a long time and we didn’t have a good dhaba style food. Until now.

Dhaba by Claridges, the same group that runs the Mamagoto outlets have set up shop inside Ishpahani centre. It is definitely an upmarket place, both with its quirky interiors and the pricing, but for a city starved of good dhaba style food outside of hotels, it is being welcomed with open arms. When we walked in at 7, we were alone, but by the time we walked out by 8:15, there was a line snaking outside waiting to get a table.

Our drinks were a mixed bag. The lassi was a little too watery for my liking, but the paan drink (paan iced tea, I think it was) with its unmistakable paan flavour in a chilled drink was super refreshing. We started off with a galouti kebab. Soft, juicy and flavourful, this was a well made galouti, though the paratha on which it was served could have been better. We got a small bread basket with naan, rumali roti and a kulcha which we paired with their excellent dhal. Phew. They got their dhal bang on and I was thankful for it. Though at Rs. 385 it is not exactly cheap, there is a non 5 star good dhal now available. A khadi chicken, which was falling of the bone and smothered with mustard completed the main course.

The Dhaba Meeta, a beautiful dessert, not exactly dhaba style, but a refined version layered with ice cream, shahi tulsa and gulab jamun! It was an excellent and heavy finish to the meal. All of this set us back by about Rs. 2300, so the pricing is definitely not dhaba pricing, but there is good food to be had here. 

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5 Star, Chennai, Eating out, Iftar, Indian, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials

Nihari to the rescue!

With the iftar offerings going from bad to worse, and haleem and nombu kanji competing for the worst dish awards, I almost forgot about a dish that won me over last year. Served at the ITC Grand Chola, the Nihari was new introduction to the city’s iftar palate, but one that was poorly advertised. I checked with ITC and it was available this year too, so come Sunday, the family iftar eat out happened at Cafe Mercara.

It was as set menu. We were offered a choice between haleem and nihari for one dish and choice of breads for the second main course. A platter of fruits, dates and a rose sherbet arrived first to help the stomach ease into the next course.

There was no next course. All three courses arrived together in a neat set menu, similar to the Welcome meals served at ITC hotels. Since we were four adults (and two kids, their drinks came free), we were able to sample both the haleem and the nihari (and four different breads in each of our plates). Biriyani and Dhal Makhni completed the well plated platter.

The Nihari, a slow cooked broth with lamb marrow, had meat falling off the bone with ease, with some saltiness of the broth adding a nice flavour tone and the pink meat giving out all the flavour notes of a beautifully cooked lamb. Dhal Makhni at ITC hotels are usually spot on and today was no different. Four pieces of naan and butter naan and garlic naan and roti simply eased into the tummy.
The biriyani was all meat with a little rice here and there. Seriously! Every plate had good portions of succulent meat that the kids also enjoyed as there was so much to share. I also gulped down some haleem from my sister’s plate (and sneaked it into the photo)! Thankfully, the haleem was good as I had given up on haleem in Chennai. Thankfully!

A saffron phirni in a mud pot served chilled and thick with saffron dominating the plate completed an excellent iftar meal for the first time this Ramadan. We paid Rs. 6004 including all taxes for four adults with enough food to share with the two kids. This is probably the only place in Chennai serving a sit down iftar meal, appropriately priced! 

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Hyderabaid, Indian, Nizam, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials, South Indian

The Nizami Ramadan Repast

The search of haleem continues and the disappointments continue. Luckily sometimes the rest of the food makes up, or in this case more than makes up for the haleem. Hyatt has flown in a chef from Hyderabad to recreate the dinners of the Nizams. This is not an iftar buffet, but a dinner buffet. An invite to any royal food festival is exciting, but during Ramadan, festival like the Nizami past are more exciting. It gives us a chance to sample Ramadan food from around the country.

And the first thing he seems to have re-created is the Raan. Literally a lamb leg piece, which colloquially is a funny phrase, the first dish served on the plate was a stunner. Succulent and flavourful with spices adding depths of flavour without overpowering the natural flavour of the mutton, this one dish was enough to make dinner great. There were other starters, a nice but not-juicy sheekh kebab, an excellent chicken kebab and two wonderful vegetarian dishes, a cheesy grilled cauliflower and a soft vegetarian kebab, but the Raan was too good to miss and fill up the tummy with others.

But nothing prepared me for the biriyani. Kacche ki Gosht biriyani. First of all, I was surprised to see it on the menu. A kacche gosht biriyani style I thought is a dying art. The amount of patience that it requires is humongous and the training involved in making good ones is mediocre. So much so that some articles suggested that there were only a handful of those khansamas alive in Hyderabad. I believe it is being replaced by more mediocre techniques. That is why I was surprised to see it on the menu. Why is this so difficult? This type of biriyani technique uses raw meat over long grain rice and is cooked till the meat is, well, cooked. Cooking raw meat over rice is not an easy technique, so rarely do hotels make this form of biriyani. The outcome was a biriyani with a lot more flavour than ones from most hotels. Well cooked mutton and the flavours of slow cooking seeping in resulted in a lovely biriyani. A good brinjal side dish completed the dish.

The haleem though was a disappointment. It was partially cooked and finished off in the stove, something that was a turn off even before eating, and tasting it only confirmed the worst. The biriyani more than made up for the terrible haleem
The sweets of the festival were a mixed bag. The Qubani Meeta is something that should be left to the classics, especially in a festival like this. An alien flavour spoilt what would have been an otherwise very good dish. A little probing revealed that it was flavoured with Roohafsa, a rose flavoured syrup used extensively in the region. That ended up making the dish a little too sweet, even for someone like me with a sweet tooth. The double ka meeta and payasams were good enough to finish a meal with an awesome biriyani.
This festival is all about the biriyani and the raan. The menu changes everyday so I hope you get these when you visit. Fingers crossed! The festival is on till the 25th of June! 

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Chennai, Eating out, Food Festivals, Hyderabaid, Indian, Nizam, Ramadan, Ramzan Specials, South Indian

The Nizami Ramadan Repast

The search of haleem continues and the disappointments continue. Luckily sometimes the rest of the food makes up, or in this case more than makes up for the haleem. Hyatt has flown in a chef from Hyderabad to recreate the dinners of the Nizams. This is not an iftar buffet, but a dinner buffet. An invite to any royal food festival is exciting, but during Ramadan, festival like the Nizami past are more exciting. It gives us a chance to sample Ramadan food from around the country.

And the first thing he seems to have re-created is the Raan. Literally a lamb leg piece, which colloquially is a funny phrase, the first dish served on the plate was a stunner. Succulent and flavourful with spices adding depths of flavour without overpowering the natural flavour of the mutton, this one dish was enough to make dinner great. There were other starters, a nice but not-juicy sheekh kebab, an excellent chicken kebab and two wonderful vegetarian dishes, a cheesy grilled cauliflower and a soft vegetarian kebab, but the Raan was too good to miss and fill up the tummy with others.

But nothing prepared me for the biriyani. Kacche ki Gosht biriyani. First of all, I was surprised to see it on the menu. A kacche gosht biriyani style I thought is a dying art. The amount of patience that it requires is humongous and the training involved in making good ones is mediocre. So much so that some articles suggested that there were only a handful of those khansamas alive in Hyderabad. I believe it is being replaced by more mediocre techniques. That is why I was surprised to see it on the menu. Why is this so difficult? This type of biriyani technique uses raw meat over long grain rice and is cooked till the meat is, well, cooked. Cooking raw meat over rice is not an easy technique, so rarely do hotels make this form of biriyani. The outcome was a biriyani with a lot more flavour than ones from most hotels. Well cooked mutton and the flavours of slow cooking seeping in resulted in a lovely biriyani. A good brinjal side dish completed the dish.

The haleem though was a disappointment. It was partially cooked and finished off in the stove, something that was a turn off even before eating, and tasting it only confirmed the worst. The biriyani more than made up for the terrible haleem
The sweets of the festival were a mixed bag. The Qubani Meeta is something that should be left to the classics, especially in a festival like this. An alien flavour spoilt what would have been an otherwise very good dish. A little probing revealed that it was flavoured with Roohafsa, a rose flavoured syrup used extensively in the region. That ended up making the dish a little too sweet, even for someone like me with a sweet tooth. The double ka meeta and payasams were good enough to finish a meal with an awesome biriyani.
This festival is all about the biriyani and the raan. The menu changes everyday so I hope you get these when you visit. Fingers crossed! The festival is on till the 25th of June! 

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