Hyderabad Marriott Hotel rediscovers quirky delicacies in the ongoing Lost Cuisines of India food festival
When a dinner begins with trivia like, “Did you know that Mughal emperor Aurangzeb turned a vegetarian in the latter part of his life and Kebab-e-Burghul was his favourite food?” you know it’s going to be a memorable one. Bidri, the Hyderabadi and Awadhi speciality restaurant at Hyderabad Marriott Hotel, is hosting the ‘Lost Cuisines of India’ food festival till August 5 and it is not just the food, but the nuggets of information that Executive Chef Aungshuman Chakraborty tells us that is delicious. As the chef serves us the kebab, he tells us that the Mughal king used to feed this dish, made of broken wheat, pepper, coriander and lentil, served with a fiery mint and mustard chutney to the Hindus during Eid festivities. Kebab-e-Burghul was melt in the mouth and understated, just apt for vegetarians.
A workshop in the city brought in chef Bansilal Shekhawati from Marriott Jaipur to Hyderabad and Chef Aunghsuman’s dinner with him and a lot of talking about the cuisine of the yesteryears resulted in curating this festival. “I am fascinated by the signature dishes of some legendary clubs in Mumbai, Kolkata, especially during the British Raj and I felt we need to revisit them once.”
There are about 25 delicacies spanning the entire four-course meal including vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, but the favourite seems to be the quirky starter Parindey Mein Parinda (bird cooked in a bird), a Mughlai dish served with chicken stuffed with quail and boiled egg. The chef opens up the sheer rumali packaging wrapped over a clay pot to reveal a bird cooked for four hours in a charcoal pit. The aroma was enticing and the meat was cooked right to suit a monsoon dinner. It’s only when you bite into the meat that you know what a charcoal pit can do to food that no modern oven can replicate. While on the main course, the Railway Mutton Curry, a throwback to the 1900s when it was served in the train and only the affluent could afford, this one made to suit the British palate used English spices such as pepper and cinnamon instead of the Indian ones like chili or garam masala. For those used to spicy dishes, this one could come as a surprise although the chefs managed to spice it up from the original version.
Old is gold and without doubt, Byculla Club Souffle of the famed club in Mumbai during the British era, was soft, light and not too sweet. Made using amaretto, this one was the star of the desserts. Here’s a spoiler — this souffle is not really a souffle! As you figure that out and prod the chef to tell you more comes Kabishambardhana Sandesh. Like its name, this Bengali dessert allegedly made by poet Rabindranath Tagore’s niece on his 60th birthday is a mouthful with its brown crust and mild sweetness. Now you know, there’s a story behind every delicacy.
For dinner at Bidri till August 5. Price for two: Rs.4,000.
Pics: S Senbagapandiyan.