The Great Awadh Food Festival at Crowne Plaza Chennai promises to treat you to royal flavours

Try dishes like Nawabi Malai Pyaaz Murgh, Shahi Sheermal and more at this food festival 
Double kaThe Great Awadh Food Festival Meetha at
Double kaThe Great Awadh Food Festival Meetha at

Once upon a time in the land of Awadh (present-day Lucknow and nearby areas), Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, who ruled the area, asked his cooks to prepare a dish he had never tasted before, something splendid, something out of the world. One of the cooks accepted the challenge and asked the ruler for only one thing in return — one gold coin each day, to which Wajid Ali happily agreed. 

Days passed, seasons changed, the cook was immersed in his invention, a dish no one would have thought of before. After a year, he presented his crown jewel to the ruler. As Wajid Ali looked at the dish, he was enraged. After all, it was just a simple Dal.  He ordered the cook to be imprisoned and threw the dish away near a dead tree. Soon, as legends state, the tree grew leaves.

“The cook used the gold coins to add tadka in the dal, which made it rich in iron, making the tree spring back to life,” Chef Gauhar Ali smiles as he recounts the centuries-old tale while telling us about the Awadhi cuisine.

<strong>Chef Gauhar Ali</strong>
Chef Gauhar Ali

Also read: Finest continental fare at Mairu Bistro 

He looks around the luscious buffet laid out, consisting of mouth-watering Kebabs, bread, curries and rice and goes on to speak about the beauty of the Awadhi cuisine. This is the ongoing The Great Awadh Food Festival at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park which promises to treat the diners with a royal meal, truly fit for kings.

Intrigued by the ongoing festival, we went to The Residency restaurant at the hotel and tried out the food, which for the most part didn’t disappoint us. We started our gastronomic journey with Galouti Kebab, for which the mutton is minced 12 times before marinating with a special blend of spices. Galouti means ‘soft’ and these kebabs are known for melting in your mouth, and indeed they did.

As we tasted it, the kebab graced us with a burst of flavours including cardamom, cinnamon, and much more. Along with it, we were served Ulte Tawe Ka Paratha, which, as the name suggests, is cooked on an upside-down pan. The soft parathas had a little sweet taste which paired well with the kebabs. Following it, we were served an assortment of other appetisers including Hussainabadi Fish Tikka, Nawabi Malai Pyaaz Murgh, Shahi Sheermal and Burghul Ke Kebab.

<strong>Nawabi Malai Pyaaz Murgh</strong>
Nawabi Malai Pyaaz Murgh

The Nawabi Malai Pyaaz Murgh was rich in flavour with a filling of paneer, ginger, onions and green chillies which added to the taste but it lacked a bit of seasoning. The Hussainabadi Fish Tikka had a spicy coating and since the taste of fish dominated over the marinade, it didn't impress us much. On the other hand, the Burghul ke Kebab made of Dalia was crunchy and had a cheese filling in it which enhanced the flavour.

But the Shahi Sheermal was the show-stopper of this course. It tasted like a beautifully made short-crust pastry dipped in ghee and coated with chopped dry fruits, which added an extra crunch to it, making it all the more satisfying.   

Moving on to the main course, we had a smorgasbord of choices spread in front of us, including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. We started with the most obvious choice,  Biryani, which according to Chef Gauhar gets its distinct flavour due to the Yakhni (broth) it is cooked in. When it came to Awadhi Murgh Dum Biryani, the rice boasted a distinct taste of a combination of spices including cardamom, cinnamon, rosewater and kewra water. Along with it, we tried the Subz Korma, Lucknowi Dum Ka Murgh, Aminabadi Aloo Ghost, Aminabadi Khatti Dal and Hazratganj ki Dal Makhani.

The Subz Korma fared well with our palate owing to the mild flavours it offered. The Aminabadi Khatti Dal had a tangy taste due to yoghurt with garlic tadka complementing it. However, Hazratganj ki Dal Makhani tasted like any other Dal Makhni served at a North Indian diner but was thicker and a little smoky. 

Coming to the meat-based curries, the mutton was well cooked and the potatoes went well with the tangy and spicy gravy. Finally, we tried the Lucknowi Dum Ka Murgh, the standout dish of all. It had a balanced medley of sourness, mildness and richness. 

<strong>Lucknowi Dum Ka Murgh</strong>
Lucknowi Dum Ka Murgh

After trying a lot of savoury dishes, it was time for desserts, all from the heartland of Awadh. We started the sweet journey with Double ka Meetha, a bread-based sweet on similar lines to Shahi Tukda. The fried bread had a strong hint of rose water, kewra water and saffron which would have been infused in the sugar syrup the pieces of bread were dipped in. It had a thick layer of malai topped with dried fruits. 

<strong>Double Ka Meetha</strong>
Double Ka Meetha

Next, we tried the Khoya Barfi which was very basic and could have used a little more sugar and flavourings. Then came Gud Maave ka ladoo which was made up of dried evaporated milk solids and jaggery with chopped dry fruits. It was a nice ending for the royal affair but would have been better with more spices. 

Overall, the ongoing Awadhi food festival at Crowne Plaza, Adayar Park is a welcome detour from the regular buffets you go to. Do attend to get the taste of Awadhi cuisine, one of the most flavourful but underappreciated cuisines of India.   

INR 1950 + taxes (lunch and dinner). On till May 21.  At the Residency, Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, Alwarpet.  

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