Andaaz Ae Lucknow at Kenilworth with Chef Anjum Hasan
|Andaaz Ae Lucknow at Kenilworth with Chef Anjum Hasan|
The great thing about Kolkata is the city’s cultural heritage. Many fairs and festivals are organized to cater to the love of its own heritage and the hunger to acquit itself with the others. Last Monday, I was invited by Kenilworth to Dastarkhan E-Khas, “Andaaz Ae Lucknow” with Lucknowi Chef Anjum Hasan.
But first, some back story – Last weekend I was travelling. In fact, I could not sleep at all on Sunday night. I reached Kolkata early morning and then directly left for office. After a long day of training, I went to Kenilworth directly. So, you can guess that I was dog tired. At that point I literally just wanted the event to get over soon. But, by the end of it, I never wanted it to get over…
I was accompanied by Pooja. We went to The Marble Room of Kenilworth which is decorated aptly for the event – flowing red fabrics with fabric umbrella reminding the nawabi-aana. Red roses and carnations adding to the romanticism of the place. My tiredness started lifting away.
We were introduced to Chef Khemraj Bhatt who is the head chef of Kenilworth. He introduced us to the menu and the food. Chef Anjum Hasan joined us in the table and mentioned the little twists that were done to these royal recipes. She is a remarkable lady with her entire life dedicated to the love of cooking. She learned all these Lucknowi delicacies from her grandparents. She is completely against the use of colors and preservatives. In most places, food is generally half prepared and then cooked to completion when the dish is ordered. Here, she ensured that everything is prepared from starch to end in on go to make sure the herbs and spices retain their flavor and the textures are perfect. She emphasized on ‘bhunna’ that adds texture and flavor but unfortunately is avoided by most restaurants. I was interested to know how the Lucknowi food differs from the rest of the India and it got clear as the dishes started coming to our table. Instead of the usual chargrilled texture and smoky flavors of kababs available everywhere, Lucknowi dishes majorly have a dum style of cooking.
Coming to food, we started with Abu Mia ki Soda Sikanji – lemonade made with soda and spices added to it. It was fresh and refreshing and exactly what needed. In fact, I had two.
Chef Khemraj suggested the Zafrani Tava Murgh – Chicken marinated in yogurt with spices with hint of saffron, cooked on tawa. The chicken fillets melts in mouth. I loved this dish and I hope that they introduce this dish to main menu. This is definitely something that will make me go back.
I wanted to try Mutton Galawati Kabab. Mutton Galawati has a very interesting story linked to it. It was created by the royal chefs to cater the meat craving of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah who had lost all this teeth. The melt in mouth kababs has an aromatic flavor and a delicate texture. I wanted to see how different it was from what I tried in Lucknow (back in 2012!) and the twisted ones available in Delhi and Kolkata.
As we wanted to taste all the veg kababs, we went with the Veg Assorted Platter. The veg platter includes – Channe Ke Shammi Kababs (mashed chickpea with spices, fried in round patty), Subj Kakori Seekh Kabab (lightly grilled cottage cheese and vegetables in aromatic spices) and Grilled Mushroom stuffed with cottage cheese. Everything tasted better than the other. They were spicy but light and smooth. But, the better part of the meal was yet to come.
Entered the Nehaari Gosht. This is one dish that is praised by all but somehow it never impressed me. Here, it was a different story - soft and succulent mutton pieces cooked in mustard oil, herbs and spices to balance with the strong mutton flavor. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the dish as the royal taste pampered my taste buds. It was definitely one of the top 10 mutton preparations I had in my life. I took another helping and cleaned it off my plate with soft and flaky Ulte Tawa ka Paratha
Being a bong, how could I miss on the Biryani? And why not? My favorite Kolkata Biryani was born because of a Lucknowi nawab. Kolkata Biryani is practically sister of Lucknowi Biryani. In came the Awadhi Dum Birayani. I wanted to try both the mutton and chicken ones to compare with the Kolkata version. Compared to the Kolkata one, it has a slightly spicier rice but the meat flavor remains the same.
It was time for dessert and we ordered Shahi Tukra. Another melt in mouth desert. I am personally not a fan of kesar pista flavor but the texture of the dish was so intriguing that I finished half of it.
With good food and a great company, time slipped away. It was an honour meeting the talented Chef Anjum Hasan. Also, as we started talking about the love for good food and culture in Lucknow and Kolkata, it felt that both the cities were practically twins.
What: Dastarkhan E-Khas, “Andaaz Ae Lucknow”. Special Lucknowi dishes crafted by the royal chefs with modern twists by Lucknowi Chef Anjum. Ala Carte. Priced between Rs 150-1000. Most dishes around Rs 300-600.
When: 4th Feb to 14th Feb 2016
Where: The Marble Room, Kenilworth, Kolkata.
PS: I am writing this at Airport while waiting for my flight to Nagpur with the thoughts of Nehaari Gosht still alive in in. Thankfully, Chef Anjum has also suggested me something for Nagpur and I am looking forward to that now.