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What the butler served

Here's your opportunity to enjoy a 'bara khana'

— Photo: K. Gajendran


CAN'T DROP names, but every British Resident who has dined in the Nizam's city has had this for dessert. With the air of a savant who has just pronounced the last word on the subject, Chef O.P. Khantwal smiles as he shares the reasons for hosting this food festival. The rest of the discourse, he knows, will be taken up by ``that'': the Tipsy Laird Pudding (Sherry and drambuie enriched fruits and vanilla sponge fingers covered with custard and garnished with slivers of almonds, glazed cherries and angelica.) Considering Khantwal is the executive chef of the ITC Hotel Kakatiya Sheraton and Towers, it's a claim that can't be taken lightly.

But let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Dum Pukht brings all those who suffer from a Raj hangover a delightful array of Anglo-Lucknowi fusion dishes in their Jolly Nabobs food festival.

Anglo-Indian food is a unique cooking tradition that came into being in the days of the Raj. While all burra sahibs had Indian cooks who cooked as good a shepherd's pie as back home, the jolly nabobs (lesser employees of John Company) cooked adding regional touches to their dishes. "Anglo-Indian food therefore has a lot of English dishes, but with elements of Bengali, Goan and Mughlai cooking. In a way, Anglo-Indian food is the earliest fusion cuisine," says Khantwal. "The nabobs toned down the spices, added generous dollops of cream, curd and khoya, and made the Indian ingredients their own."

The festival that is on till December19 has a wonderfully designed menu that brings sherbets, salads, the main course including all time favourites at the restaurant, rice and breads and desserts. The Adrak Nimboo Pani and the Khus Ka Sherbat lead the way for Bloody Mary Salaat (seasonal green vegetables tossed with tabasco and tomato puree). For the main course, chef recommends the Koofthay Myhee (spiced fish balls in onion gravy, tempered with fenugreek and mango powder) and Pomegranate Chops (tender, grilled mutton chops marinated in fresh pomegranate juice, wine and Worcestershire sauce). For the vegetarians there is a choice of Peter Mundy's Brinjal Bharta (whisked yoghurt mixed with roasted brinjal mash) and Aloo Badam Dum (potatoes studded with almond slivers, sautéed with red chillies). Don't pass over the Forest Officer's Pulao (served in Inspection Bungalows at short notice) and for the desserts there is Khoa Pudding, 365 (caramel custard, so popular that it's served throughout the year) and Falooda.

If you are a Kipling buff and you don't live in a cantonment or in old Cawnpore, Jolly Nabobs will be the perfect example of what happens when the twain meet.

DEEPA ALEXANDER

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