The Degh Story by Novotel in Chennai delivers forgotten recipes from Awadh kitchens
They might tell you that dinners are meant to be light and easy — but when you are ordering from The Degh Story, get ready to feast. Serving extravagant Nawabi fare from Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road, this new dark kitchen’s nomenculture is short for degchi, an earthen pot in which food was traditionally prepared, back in the day. And we’re told, in keeping with tradition — our Murgh Kheema Tawa Biryani was slow-cooked in earthenware as well.
Adding to this exotic culinary story — executive sous chef Suraj Kumar tells us to expect “lost recipes that are strongly influenced by the cooking styles and techniques of the Mughals, Nizams and Nawabs of India”. Think Majlisi Kebab (minced meat marinated with spices and aromatics) and our personal favourite, the heavenly Chukandar aur Zimikand ke Shikhampuri (Beetroot and yam gallots stuffed with hung curd, cilantro and shallow fried scallions). The deep-red cutlet-like offerings are rich, melt-in-the-mouth and you might imagine, a testament to one’s willpower if you can stop at one! We suggest you hold on and try the green kebab — also called Palak Anjeer ki Tikki — where the spinach cakes are stuffed with sweet fig chutney.
The classic Galouti Kebab, is as expected, on the list as well — created for anyone who remembers their history, for a Nawab with no teeth. The kebab that sits pretty on a coin-sized paratha delivers on strong meaty flavour notes and is as soft as pâté. Chef Suraj, who put together the menu, tells us that his team has sourced most ingredients from Lucknow, for more authentic flavours. These include zarakhus, paan ki jad, peepli, khas ki jad and kabab chini.
In the main course, our Tandoori Murgh Jolokia is fairly run-of-the-mill but we find ourselves returning for the Paneer Tikka Sirka Pyaz, garnished with pickled onions for added flavour paired with saffron and ghee-tossed flaky Warqi Paratha. The succulent chunks of mutton in the Tawa Rara Ghosht also have us reaching for seconds. Sadly, there are no desserts available as yet so we comfort ourselves with another serving of that kheema biryani and call it a night.
Delivery only. Meal for two INR 1,000.