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Promising first



Afghan Food Festival at Crowne Plaza Surya Hotel.

THE RESTAURANT at New Delhi's Crowne Plaza Surya Hotel, celebrated its first anniversary in an interesting manner - by playing host to perhaps India's first-ever Afghan Food Festival. The event, organised in association with the Afghanistan Embassy here, will be on till May 9.

Looking at the array on offer, one realises that over time, the style of cooking from various other countries has deeply influenced that of Afghanistan. Spinach from old Persia, garam masala from India and noodles from China are a few of the many influences that the Afghans have closely interacted with. These additions have been incorporated in a way that enhances the essential character of the local cuisine. The cooks at the Embassy of Afghanistan trained the chefs at Seven with the finer nuances of the cooking style of the country.

At the venue, straight from the tray of a tabangwallah who sells snacks and street food in Afghanistan, comes the popular Boulanee, mince meat with potato turnovers. Traditionally, this snack is also prepared with mashed-potato filling. Rice is an important part of the traditional Afghani cooking, and amongst the preparations on offer, the Jamarooth pulao, a meat pulao with Afghani spices, is a must-have. Yoghurts are used as a common base by Afghans in most of their dishes whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and the Gosht Aashak and Bouranee Baunjan are two dishes on the menu that use this essential ingredient as a sauce and gravy respectively.

Another Afghani delicacy that one must try out is the Kofta Nakhod, lamb balls with chickpeas in a mint and cardamom flavoured sauce. There is also a long list of vegetarian items including the familiar but distinctly Afghani Dal and the Subzi Chalau, a vegetable biryani.

This list of authentic dishes is followed up adequately with a host of Afghani desserts like the Sheer Brinj, kheer with nuts, and Shakorli badam and sugared almond squares.

The Rs.600 buffet will acquaint diners at Seven with these and many other Afghani dishes, and leave them with a memory to cherish, and more to look forward to.

Opening the food festival, the Ambassador of Afghanistan spoke of his involvement, as well as his wife's, with the event, on a more personal rather than professional level. And one could see, that he sincerely intends this event to not just be a one-of-its-kind food festival, but an interaction of lifestyles, of cultures.

AJAY GOVIND

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