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Gateway to FINE dining

The fare at Northern Gate is redolent of Awadh's graces



Northern Gate: not just Punjabi cuisine

NORTH INDIAN food is much maligned, especially in the South. And a lot of North Indian restaurants are to blame. The food is oily, full of red chillies, and doused with garam masala. The real flavour of the food seldom comes through. And, all you get is the same old red-coloured butter chicken, greasy alu gobi, pasty rajma, and yellow dhal. No innovation, nothing new.

This is what probably got the people at Northern Gate to change their menu. "We decided to go really north — include not just the usual Punjabi cuisine with a few kebabs thrown in, but also included Kashmiri and Awadhi food," says Shankar Menon, Executive Assistant Manager, Food and Beverages, at the Taj Gateway where the Northern Gate is situated.

The restaurant, with an international fine dining ambience, has worked on its already famous kebabs. The galouti kebabs, as the name suggests, melt in the mouth — both the vegetarian (subzi galouti) and the mince ones. The doodhiya murgh tikka (creamy boneless chicken with burnt garlic) and the murgh Awadhi tangdi (char grilled tender chicken drumsticks) are simple, tasty, and have just a whiff of spice.

What is interesting is the new addition to the vegetarian starter menu — the chatpata tawa singhara, a typically Awadhi dish. Water chestnuts are not easy to get in Bangalore, and they are not available in any season. Though the singhara or the water chestnut is canned, the coating of red chillies and a bit of rice powder makes them fiery and crisp. If you want to try the Kashmiri, there is lotus stem in Kashmiri masala.



Ambience: Pleasant
Specialty: Awadhi cuisine
Wallet factor: A meal for
two would cost Rs. 900
Service: Good

Northern Gate has a range of bread as well. The ulte tawe ka parantha is flaky and is cooked till crisp. The phulkas are nice and brown, though the flour needs to be improved. The restaurant is planning a roti festival soon and plans to get a small flourmill for the occasion. That should certainly help matters.

Chef Suprabhat Roy Chowdhury, who grew up in the lanes of Lucknow, among the aromas of the nawabs, explains that Awadhi cuisine leaves you with an aftertaste of kewada (or screwpine) and sweet perfume, or mitta ittar. Kashmiri, on the other hand, has an aftertaste of dry ginger and saunf and the famous Kashmiri chilly, full of flavour and not much bite, and the Lucknowi, of desiccated coconut.

The lasooni bhuna palak is very homely, chopped spinach with garlic. There is also khajoori kofta curry, for those who want something more exotic — cottage cheese dumplings in a rich gravy of tomatoes and cashewnuts.

The luxury of the nawabs comes through in the nihari gosht. Tender lamb simmered with potli masala. Potli masala is nothing but several herbs and spices tied into a little bundle of muslin and tossed into the pot. "In Lucknow," Chef Suprabhat tells you, "the potli contains as many as 164 herbs and spices." The Northern Gate gets its potlis from there, so that you get the authentic stuff. In fact, serving the nihari gosht is quite a tradition in Lucknow. After the cooking, the oil is drained and kept in a dish. The gravy is then strained and the meat separated. When the food is served, each of these parts is served separately. "We've kept the oil to the minimum," explains Chef Suprabhat, "because people are a lot more health conscious today than they were in the times of the nawabs!"

In fact, for the health conscious, Northern Gate has a low-calorie section as well, where you get desserts with skimmed milk — apple phirni and vanilla yogurt with apricots and almonds. However, if you plan to throw caution to the winds, the zafrani muzaffar — dry vermicelli with ghee and sugar — should be tried. The chenna payesh sounds interesting and the litchi kheer unusual, but quite popular, I am told.

One of the highlights of Northern Gate is its bar. A mixture of tequilas can serve as appetisers — the margaritas are quite interesting with home-brewed cointreau — but it is the post-dinner coffees that are stunning. Northern Gate has brought back to Bangalore the famous snake coffee, black coffee served with flambed whisky over a serpentine orange rind. A sight that will convert most teetotallers.

KANCHAN KAUR

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