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For Lucknowi khana khazana


EVER DREAMED of sinking your ivories into a succulent piece of meat straight off the coals? Your dream can come true at Badsha, the Awadhi speciality restaurant at Golden Palms Spa and Resort. This open-air restaurant beside the pool beckons the gourmand to chicken, mutton, prawn and fish, and vegetarian options, cooked to perfection in traditional Awadhi style. "We give our customers complete satisfaction in terms of food and value for money," says Bibhash Chatterjee, Chief Operating Officer.

The cuisine lends itself to secrets in the recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the next. Chefs from Lucknow assist Master Chef Abdul Quereshi, a descendant of the Quereshi family, synonymous with Awadhi cookery. As translated from the Hindi he states: "A meal cannot be prepared instantly, and a minimum of three hours is absolutely necessary as marination is an important process."

A live kitchen enables one to see the culinary artisans at work beside the tandoors. Kakori kabab made of minced mutton with subtle spices then skewered and cooked over coals is an excellent starter. Galoti kabab is a speciality made from minced mutton, spices, and powdered channa, cooked on a tava, over a slow fire. Vegetable sheekh kabab and paneer stand out among the vegetarian choices.

Malai gosht biriyani, dum cooked in a sealed copper handi with its own juices, is sheer bliss to the palate. Chef Quereshi adds, "The handi is sealed with dough and opened only when served. The slow fire is essential to the cuisine." Dal maharani is tantalizing to both, the olfactory as well as the taste buds. Chicken kesri kabab or mutton khaas kurma is an ideal accompaniment with rice or rotis. Ghee is the cooking medium and fresh butter is smeared on hot rotis.

Rotis come in many varieties, the specials being taftan and sheermal. The latter is cooked in a steel tandoor while the former is baked in one made from clay. Taftan contains baking powder and powdered cardamom and appears like a little loaf of bread. Its soft texture is instantly compared to that of cotton and really melts in the mouth. Varki paratha made from maida is cooked on a tava, the same way a roomali roti is.

Sweet preparations form an integral part of Awadhi cuisine. Innumerable preparations with semiyan or vermicelli and rabri are most common. The technique in making shahi tukda, frying the bread and soaking it in syrup is unique to Awadhi cookery.

In true Awadhi tradition, copperware adorns the candlelit table along with cutlery made from stainless steel. The bar attached adds the appetizer with a choice of cocktails and mocktails. A table d' hote spread complete with starters, biriyani, gravy, in vegetarian and non-vegetarian combinations, dal and assorted rotis costs Rs. 500 (taxes extra) per person. An exclusive buffet lunch every Sunday comes at Rs. 599 excluding taxes. There is an alternative arrangement if the rain gods play spoilsport. Badsha operates from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays besides lunch on Sundays between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 3712222.

DOMINIC D'CRUZ

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