Enjoy Nawabi cuisine and mellifluous ghazals at the on-going fest at Navaratna, Le Royal Meridien
AWADH IS irretrievably lost in the mists of time. Just a footnote in history, this erstwhile province in north India was renamed Uttar Pradesh, a while after Independence. But the name of Awadh has not been wiped out; it lives on in our cookery books. And in Chennai, restaurants hold Awadhi food festivals quite often. Right now, Navaratna, the Indian cuisine restaurant at Le Royal Meridien, is holding a "Sham-e-Awadh".
As you saunter in, ghazals belted out by a live troupe transport you to the world of the nawabs. And the soups (Muqqavi Shorba) prepare you for a royal dinner.
You get off to a "flying start" with Shaan-e-Bater (quails that have been gently cooked in spicy-rich marinade). And before you know it, you sink your teeth into what could qualify as exotic kababs - Kathal ke Kabab (a blend of raw jackfruit and mango delicately flavoured) and Til mila Jhinga (king prawns marinated with exotic spices and coated with sesame seeds).
The chef's specialities read like a shopping list. You take four - Raan-e-Awadh (leg of baby lamb marinated in authentic Awadhi spices cooked gently in the mahi tawa), Jhinga Wajid Ali Shah (medium prawns cooked with capsicum and spices in a shahi gravy), Shabnam-e-paneer (a combination of cottage cheese, lotus seeds and green peas simmered in a spicy gravy) and Dum Bhindi (okra with capsicum, tomato and spices cooked in traditional dum method).
Among rice delicacies, Murgh Kofta Yakhni Pulao (rice cooked in rich flavourful chicken stock and garnished with chicken dumplings) is irresistible.
Among the breads, Sheermal (made of rich dough, flavoured with saffron) and Nilaufari Roti (traditional spicy bread made of chickpea flour flour and pounded pomegranate seeds) pack a punch.
The Sheer-e-Barf (kesar pista kulfi, served with falooda, khus syrup and roohafza) is so delectable that you polish it off in no time. And then go on to pamper your sweet tooth with smidgens of the other three desserts.
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