Eat and say `balle balle'
The Punjabi food festival at Firdaus, Hotel Taj Krishna, ensures you have a lavish meal with an out-of-the-world range
Photo: K. Pichumani
A BOISTEROUS balle balle and a few colourful turbans would have completed the picture. But, the goodies more than made up for their absence at the `Pride of Punjab' food festival at Firdaus restaurant, Hotel Taj Krishna. Not surprising, since the chef is from Punjab so is his assistant and he has towed in a whole bunch of boys from Punjab to bring in that authenticity to the spread. For this festival at least, Pradeep Khosla, executive chef at the hotel, swears by the typical bhatti and "appliances used in the houses of Punjab".
So, the menu boasts of Pedewali Lassi peda is added to curd instead of sugar and churned the Yashoda maiyya way and Kanjvi, a juice made from black carrots. The latter has the look of diluted potassium cyanide solution, but is immensely soothing. Plus, the good ol' Baingan Bhartha goes aromatic here. The stuffing contains clove and garlic too and once it is roasted to a nicety in a tandoor, the spices melt and tickle your olfactory nerves too.
For Sarson ka Saag (isn't it mandatory!), Khosla went on a fresh sarson hunt in Simla. "At this time, it is available only there. I didn't think twice about procuring it from Simla," he says. Not to be forgotten is the Wadhiyan dried dumplings of lentil paste and black pepper cooked with potatoes. The spicy pepper will have its impact, the chef promises.
There is a perceptible Pakistani presence too, courtesy Peshawari Murgi, Lahori Seekh and Bhartha Rawalpindiwalla. Khosla's Lahori Seekh is crisp and crackling. "The popular notion that Seekh should melt in your mouth is wrong," he clarifies. There is another exotic mixture with a half-a-mile-long name Besan Naal Bhunney Bhein Te Aloo and you have to be reminded that it is just lotus stem and potatoes. The taste and texture is distinctly non-veggie!
Khosla reveals that in Punjab, one doesn't get the ingredients of a good meal in a single place.
The idea is to get them from the specialists and whip up your own fare. So, Lawrence Roadwalley Tawa ke Tikkey Tak-a-tin is displayed prominently in the menu.
The tak-a-tin bit is the sound that emanates when the Lawrence Roadwalley specialist chops the tikkey on the tawa. Beli Ram too makes his presence felt with his mutton speciality in thick, reddish gravy.
Have a go at Amritsari Macchi too. Murrel, in a thin flour batter, is apparently fried in mustard oil. But it is so light that you miss the oil all together.
The festival, which is on till October 3, has an array of rich desserts as well. Maybe, it is time to have a Punjabi ball(e).
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