Marriott’s Rajasthani and Gujarati food festival takes you on a journey to the west
Marriott’s festival chef hosts a special with dishes from his native city of Surat
The promise of authentic flavour is a tagline that precedes most food festivals. But in an age where language can be manipulated, it is always refreshing to find that some promises hold good. Take for instance the Gujarati and Rajasthani food festival at Fairfield by Marriott. While it may seem that the food of the regions are represented by the clichéd dhokla, thepla and dal bati churma, Masterchef Kalluram Mehta from Surat is debunking flavour myths based on the geography and climate. “You can’t really pigeonhole the flavours of Gujarat and Rajasthan into one entity. People think that Gujarati cuisine is sweet, while Rajasthani food is oily and spicy,” begins the 60-year-old who has been conducting festivals since 1990. Hoping to be schooled in the culinary heritage of Western India, we drop by for dinner on the opening night of the festival.
In keeping with the theme of a pure vegetarian buffet and the dry state of Gujarat, Mariott takes a healthier, alcohol-free approach. That being said, we hardly miss the tipple as we are offered a range of healthy concoctions from a colourful thela (push cart) which is placed at the entrance. The khus soda that is a bright fluorescent green, is served in a shot glass and looks Instagram ready. We also highly recommend the thandai that is sweet, refreshing and yields an unexpected hit of spice from the ground pepper.
Down main street
Offering two menus — one touting Gujarati fare and the other Rajasthani flavours — we pick the Pyaaz ki Kachori that is transformed into a chaat with yoghurt, sweet tamarind chutney, and sev. Though the street-food inspired dish may not look as inviting as in pictures, the flavours of the masala and golden brown onions against the sweet from the chutney and curd is a standout. As with all Rajasthani food, the ubiquitous Dal Bati Churma does make its appearance, which if missed would be a shame according to the chef.
From the mains what grabs our attention though, is the one pot Ram Khitchdi. A refined pulao version of the toor dal khitchdi, the main course uses a combination of lentils, rice, mixed vegetables and cashews and is mildly sweet and spicy at the same time. We also suggest the Gatte Ki Sabzi that is supposed to be a steamed gram-flour dumpling cooked in a spicy gravy. Although a tad light on the heat, the flavours are a perfect accompaniment for steamed rice or masala thepla.
For desserts, we ditch the chocolate burfi and soan papdi for the Aamras puri with a tiny side of Srikhand. The thick puree from the fresh ripe mangos with hot palak puris are a perfect balance if cloyingly sweet desserts are not your go-to.
On until August 19. Priced at `599+for lunch and dinner.
Pics: U Rakesh Kumar