The Park Kolkata's Saffron hosts Tehseer Ka Khana, a delectably healthy fest
There's nothing seasonal about vegetables, meat or fish anymore — you can get them frozen and preserved with chemicals all around the year. And that’s one of the reasons why many of us are increasingly becoming prone to food-related allergies, Chef Sharad Dewan, regional director of food production at The Park, points out. “Each food has a tehseer (Urdu word for effect) of its own. They can have a cooling or heating effect on your body depending on the way they are cooked. A thandai made with nuts, milk and saffron will cool you down, but when the same drink is served hot it keeps you warm,” explains chef Dewan.
Keeping the gruelling summer heat in mind, the renowned chef has painstakingly curated a special culinary experience to keep seasonal produce in vogue. Thandi Tehseer ka Khana — foods that have a cooling effect on your body— an ongoing festival at The Park’s Indian fine diner Saffron celebrates seasonal foods that help your body combat the summer heat without compromising on taste. The a la carte menu, which is available alongside the regular one, offers the choicest of dishes across the states including the South.
We kicked off our gastronomic journey with a fruity hors d’oeuvre comprising a bite-size melon cube filled with the goodness of honey, lemon juice and chilli flakes. It was a refreshingly sweet amuse-bouche with a hint of citrus. Vasantha Neer, a popular Southern cooler, made with coconut water, lemon juice, mint leaves and fresh mango pulp was an apt drink to whet our appetite. A kebab platter consisting of Gosht ka Dahi Vada, Mahi Pudina Akbari kebab (Rohu fish tikki seasoned with pudina leaves, tomato and a hint of lime juice), Parwal ke Dhol (pointed gourd stuffed with hung curd, almonds, potatoes and raisins) and Dahi Kalonjee ki Tikki (dahi kebabs with a generous sprinkling of black cumin seeds, onion seeds, onions and shreds of coriander) kickstarted the feast and the gosht ka dahi vada simply floored us.
The minced mutton tikki dunked in fresh, creamy curd laced with sweet chutney and sev was a revelation. “I got this recipe from Maharaja Vikram Singh of Sailana in Madhya Pradesh. It’s a perfect summer food since no warm spices are used to cook the meat,” informs the chef. For the main course, we happily succumbed to some brilliant selections including the Sufiyani Jalpari — don’t mistake it for a Sufi dish, it’s called so for the saunf, fresh fennel leaves and seeds used to cook it — that will throw you off your guards with its sweet aromatic flavour. It went well with the pulao made with coconut and poppy seeds.
The other must-have entrees comprise Soya Kairi ki Murgh (chicken made with dill leaves), Dal Pudina and Kariapak Sabz Sangam, all served with handmade rice flour rotis. The meal ended with an Andhra version of Daddojanam or curd rice with grated cucumber in it. This literally cooled our stomach linings after the gastronomic barrage. When it came to desserts, chef Dewan pleasantly surprised us with two very delectable and freshly-made dishes, Thandey Phalon ka Lachha Doodh and Aam Kheer — both such a welcome departure from the usual suspects. The Aam Kheer deserves a special mention for its light soufflelike consistency and is highly recommended for a guilt-free sweet indulgence.
The festival will be on till July 20, Lunch: 12.30 pm-3.30 pm and dinner: 7.30 pm-10.30 pm. Price: Rs 1,300 ++ for two