JORDAN FOOD FESTIVAL AT ZERZURA
By Prakriti Bhat
Delhi is an amalgamation of cultures. As a Delhite, I feel proud of the diversity we have and our acceptance of different cultures and traditions. This is quite evident from the wide variety of cuisines this city offers. From Japanese to African and European, the world is served to us on a platter, quite literally. Every food lover is on the lookout for new flavours and new cuisines. The ongoing Jordan Food Festival in Zerzura is sure to help one on such an expedition.
Zerzura is known to serve some lip smacking Middle Eastern delicacies. The ongoing Jordan Food Festival here focuses on bringing Jordan’s cuisine to the Indian palate. I was fortunate to be a part of their Bloggers Meet where I got to sample their dishes. The ambience is beautiful. Going by the lore, Zerzura was a mystical city, supposed to be located near Libya. A camel rider Hamid Keila is thought to be the first person whose experience of the ‘white city’ was recorded. While the city of Zerzura continues to remain sheathed in an envelope of mystery, this restaurant gives you a glimpse of the fascinating cuisine that might have been served there!
Jordanian Cuisine involves the recurrent use of a few key ingredients like dried yoghurt (jameed), lamb and olive oil. We began our meal with the Non-Veg Mezze Platter from the regular menu. The platter consisted of Hummus (chickpea based dip) with olive oil, Baba-ganoush (eggplant based dip) and Cacik (yoghurt based dip). Other items in the platter included Tabouleh (salad made with parsley, mint, onion and lime), Kibbeh, Chicken wings and lamb tarts. Each of the dips was brilliant, whether eaten separately or with Pita bread. I could not pick a favourite! The Chicken wings were quite succulent and well spiced. The little Ankara style lamb tarts are like a blessing to your taste buds. Properly baked, these were definitely one of my favourites. The vegetarian variant was equally delicious with cottage cheese as the filling.
The Lamb Kibbeh was so good that we ordered a separate platter of it. These are essentially Lamb cutlets made with minced meat; crunchy on the outside and soft from within. The Bedouin Pizza derives its name from a nomadic tribe found in the Arabian and Syrian deserts. Instead of Pizzas, they look like Quesadillas but are sealed from the curved edge. Spiced and ground lamb is used as a filling. This became another of my favourites. The non-veg Fatayar had a filling of minced lamb whereas the Vegetarian one had Spinach. The non vegetarian version was very dry as compared to the vegetarian one. Fatayar is to Arabs as Samosa is to Indians!
We started our main course with the national dish of Jordan, Mansaf. Jameed is dry yoghurt prepared with sheep or goat’s milk. This is used to make a broth in which the lamb is cooked and then served with rice. The dish is topped with nuts and caramelized onions. Traditionally, Mansaf was served in a big platter from which many people would eat together and thus it propagated a sense of community. Here, it came with a delectable gravy and braised eggplant. The flavor was very similar to the Kashmiri Yakhni. Another dish from the special menu was Maqluba which literally translates to “upside down”. Rice, lamb and vegetables are cooked in a small pot and served upside down on a plate. This was similar to our regular Biryani.
Zerzura disappoints with its drinks. The Jaffa Orange and Date Mojito failed to strike a balance between its ingredients and tasted extremely sour towards the end. The Cold Coffee was very basic, akin to what we make at home. From the special menu we were served Kanafeh as a dessert. The crust is made of fried vermicelli and the mascarpone cheese adds smoothness to this dessert which disintegrates instantly in your mouth. Thankfully, it is not too sweet. Baklava is one of the most popular Turkish desserts and is made with a layer of chopped nuts placed between two delicate and crisp layers of dough which is then baked. Honey is poured from top to soak the layers and make it soft. I found it to be too sweet for my liking though.
The festival is on till 30th June. Don’t miss it!
Address- Qutab Hotel, Near Qatwariya Sarai Marg, Qutab Institutional Area
Cost for two- Rs. 3400
Contact No. – 01133106108