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Whetting your appetite with Kebabs

The tastes of the frontier provinces come alive at the ongoing Kebab Festival. The dishes transport one to an era when mouth-watering manna emanated from the royal kitchens.


A SANTOOR player stringing wistful notes sets the pace for the evening.

The music wafts into every corner of the open-air restaurant and the sizzle of kebabs, served straight off the grill, adds to the Moghul ambience. A bouquet of aromas tickles your olfactory nerves as the order arrives at the table.

The look of bliss on the faces of the guests at the Afghan's Grill in The Residency is hard to miss. During the ongoing Kebab Festival, they get to taste 13 new varieties of the delicacy, five of which are vegetarian.

Different from the regular fare, the kebabs have been marinated in authentic masalas though the restaurant has gone a little heavy on the spices in keeping with the local taste.

The prices are reasonable if you look at the size of the cuts and the number of pieces that make up the platter.

In the vegetarian section, the Shabnami Aloo (Rs 125 for six pieces) and the Dhingri Saffedi (Rs 125 for 12) tantalised the taste buds. The Jhali paneer (Rs. 125 ) — thin slices of cottage cheese with mint chutney, Kashmiri chilly powder, ginger, coriander and a whole lot of other spices — was soft but bland and will be liked by paneer lovers.

However, the Lahori paneer (Rs. 125 for 6) has a taste that will appeal to all.

The Shabnami Aloo was a good modification of the traditional Bharwaan Aloo. The potato shells were stuffed with bean sprouts, green gram and cashew nuts before being dipped in a batter of corn flour and deep-fried. The Dhingri (mushrooms) were of the melt-in-the-mouth kind and tasted creamy. Also on offer is Parwal Kebab.

Among the non-vegetarian dishes, Adrak Daniya Murgh (Rs 160 for 8 pieces), a heady combination of chicken cubes, ginger and coriander paste, and Chooze Kebab (Rs. 160), a full, medium-sized spiced chicken, took the honours.

The excellent marinate and the method of preparation ensured that the flavours had seeped right inside.



FEAST FOR THE KINGS: A cook loading the sheekh; the kebab platters

The other varieties available are Anari Jhinga (prawns marinated in a paste of pomegranate seeds), Phari Machli (fish cooked in banana leaves), Tandoori pomfret, Murgah Lazzedar and Charminar Sheekh.

The kebabs are served with three chutneys — mint, tomato and peanut, laccha onions and a special vegetable pickle.

Especially impressive were the tomato and peanut chutneys, though the former had a predominant South Indian taste.

The food fest that started on January 23 concludes on February 2. For table reservations, call: 2201234.

SUBHA J RAO

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