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Rendezvous with Mughalai flavours

The food is rich and the desserts richer at Quality Inn Sabari's Mughalai food fest



Nuts and spices Dine like a Nawab at Rendezvous photo: K. Pichumani

Darkness can be so restful. At Rendezvous, Quality Inn Sabari's coffee shop, only a flickering lamp lights up the table, which is surrounded by a pool of darkness.

This nifty lighting has another function. It also helps mask the unimaginative dιcor set up for the hotel's Mughalai food festival: pink sponge elephants and sporadic bursts of glass bangles hanging in a row.

Fortunately, the kebabs here make up for the setting. Created by Sous Chef Ramesh Sharma, who has been specially flown in from Delhi for the festival, they move away from the tried and tested, walking a tightrope of sorts between old-world and contemporary cuisine.

The Murgh Aziz Kebab, for instance, is skewered chicken made with hung curd and chunks of mushy cheese. A delightful contrast of flavours and texture, it partners the jungle hari mirch ke tikka, a surprisingly green kebab made with herbs spiced with just chillies and black pepper.

The soup, however, a mutton shorba, is a disappointment — weak and devoid of flavour (unless you count `hot water' as a flavour.)

Star of the evening

Fortunately, it's compensated for by the lamb biriyani, clearly the star of the evening. "This was the main food of the nawabs and Mughals," says Chef Sharma, "We marinate a leg of lamb with rose petals, almond paste, etc. Then, we put it on the rice, seal the pot and let it cook." The result is beautifully cooked meat, with flavours that seamlessly blend with the rice. Don't bother to pair it with the overly-rich black dal, also on the menu, because it's so flavoursome that anything more will just be an overdo.

Though, coming to think of it, the whole point of Mughal cooking is the overdo. "Yes, this is very rich food," agrees Chef Sharma. "Ghee, khoa, cashewnuts, pistas, poppy seed paste... " So go slow on the food. Especially if you intend to make space for dessert.

They have the usual jelebis, fried on the spot, and a more exotic `vanilla flavoured rasamalai.' But the best thing here is the pumpkin halwa. Yes, it's green. And yes, it's pumpkin. But it's rich, sizzling and crammed with roasted nuts. Decadent, but isn't that the point?

The Mughalai festival is on for dinner till June 12. Call 28258888 for reservations.

SHONALI MUTHALALY

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