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Awadhi aroma

WHEN THE traditions of the Taj Connemara and the Lucknowi and Awadhi cultures meet, it must be a delectable feast. When blended with hospitality, the gourmet's delight is transformed into a gracious art of dining. Yes, the nawabs of yore indulged themselves in delicious cuisine.

Till June 2, Taj Connemara is hosting a buffet to take us back in history to relive the nawabs' lifestyle, albeit in food only. If you step into The Verandah between 7.30 p.m. and 11 p.m., the ambience reminds you of Lucknow of a bygone era. Ghazals and a welcome drink, Khus Sherbet, usher you into the splendour of the ceremonial Lucknowi dastarkhwan.

True to its genre, the festival offers a range of kormas, salans, kababs, dals, pulaos, chulaos, rotis, sheermals and parathas. To anyone with a sweet tooth, the appeal of the dessert section is clear: `Come and get me'! Muzaffara, phirnis, sheer brunjs, gullatis and kheers vie for attention.

"The specialty of Awadhi cooking is that it is done over a slow fire and in copper/iron utensils," explains K. V. Prasad, Food and Beverages Manager.

Chef Abdul Haleem, who has been specially brought down from Lucknow, goes into raptures as he explains the origin of the dishes and how and why they got their names, and supplies many interesting snippets.

One will find that the principle of Haleem's cooking is this: let the ingredients speak for themselves. Sample this: the sheermal, belonging to the roti family is made of equal proportions of maida and ghee. Saffron is used to enhance the flavour and appearance.

The Hara Tawa Kabab is a delightful patty made essentially of channa dal and spinach. The eye-catcher of the sweet segment is the Shahi Tukra (it has bread and milk as its base).

While most dishes have a sprinkling of nuts, it is more liberal on the sweets. However, for the non-conformist, the ubiquitous but spongy rasagullas and ice creams are always there. "The menu is rearranged daily to ensure that a wide spectrum of Lucknowi food is presented," informs K. Satya Narayan, Sous Chef, and adds, "the spice levels are meticulously balanced to suit all palates."

"The added attraction will be the telecast of World Cup Football matches on a giant TV screen," says Prasad. No Lucknowi treat is complete without the renowned paan. There is an array — Kolkathia, Thissouri and Banarasi pathas.

The gastronomic odyssey is priced at Rs. 499 per head.

B. SARAYU

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