Persian food festival in Hyderabad
In ancient Persepolis the Persians used a lot of walnuts, pomegranates and poultry in their cuisine, going by inscriptions on the clay tablets discovered from the kingdom’s ruins. The same ingredients make Persian cuisine what it is – colourful, healthy and without heavy spices. But one should mention that this cuisine could not have been developed without the influences from Turks, Mongols, Arabs and Uzbeks, a result of many an invasion. Mastering the art of preparing a Persian feast is difficult, but chef Gopalakrishnan has learnt the methods well. That’s how he has curated the Persian Food Festival and prepared quite a sumptuous spread at Casbah, The Westin Mindspace Hyderabad. Credit goes to his decades of culinary experience while in the Middle East and Gulf region, working out of several star hotels.
During battles, post-sunset, soldiers used to roast their game on their metal shields, applying nothing but some herbs, pepper and salt on the meat pieces, thus giving the food a smoky flavour. “Much of Persian cuisine is actually a warrior’s cuisine. Many dishes originated during wars. That’s how they are more smoky and less spicy,” explains the chef while preparing Muhammara at the Oriental interiors of Casbah, the rooftop lounge of the star hotel. The dip is delicious, made with walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, breadcrumbs, olive oil and Turkish chilli paste. It is the pearly pomegranate seeds that give the dip its colour and tangy-sweet flavour. Persia, now modern Iran, has distinct seasons, the result of which is a produce of herbs, fruits and nuts and even saffron used generously in several dishes. That’s how we had the famous Jujeh Kebab – boneless chicken leg pieces cooked with saffron, lime and zaatar. The pieces are succulent and taste distinct because of saffron.
The use of pomegranate appeared prominent when we savoured Khoresht Fesenjan – braised chicken with onion and walnut cooked in pomegranate sauce. It is a sweet and sour stew and tastes wonderful with Zereshk Rice, a fluffy yellow pilaf with jewel-like dry barberries and pine nuts. The rice preparation tastes tangy because of the berries. These nuts and berries are native to the country that make the dishes colourful, slightly tart and appealing to the eyes. We tried spoonfuls of this jewelled rice with Khoresh Bamia, an Iranian chicken stew with okra. Surprisingly, the gravy isn’t sticky at all. The vegetable pieces have soaked up the juices and turns delicious. Fattoush Salad goes well with the dishes. However, we are surprised that a traditional Lebanese salad has made its way to the Persian cuisine. The chef explains, “It is because the cuisines travel and bring their own influences.” We rounded off the scrumptious spread with baklava, the flaky baked nut-filled pastry steeped in thick honey.
On till March 26. Time: 7 pm -11 .30 pm. Charges: Rs 1730 all inclusive per head. Details: 67676767