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Daawat-e-Maghrib

Daawat-e-Maghrib @ Singh Sahib

By Anubhav Sapra

Food knows no boundaries. It connects people across globe. I was at the Eros, the other day to be a part of the Pakistani Food Festival named Dawat-e-maghrib, where I had a privilege to share the table with one of the celebrity chefs of Pakistan, Gulzar Hussain. We had such an intense discussion around food that I took him across Old Delhi, the very next day, to sample some of the local dishes of Bazar Matia Mahal in Jama Masjid.

 To be clear, Singh Sahib Restaurant at Eros Hotel is hosting a ten-day Pakistani Food Festival, Dawat-e-maghrib till 25th September. The chefs – Chef Gulzar and Chef Naseem from Pakistan has come to Delhi to showcase the delicacies straight from the land of Pakistan – Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan and Karanchi. This seems to me a not-to-miss-out thing.

Chef Gulzar Hussain is a well known name in Pakistan. Chef Gulzar took his professional training from Japan and worked there for about 12 years and married a Japanese lady. He has also spent years with his family in Thailand and gained expertise in Thai food too. He finally settled in Karachi, Pakistan and opened a Thai restaurant. He also started his TV career with his morning show on a famous TV channel, HUM TV and till date he has worked in almost all the famous cooking channels in Pakistan. His recipes are famous all over Pakistan and he is loved by millions of food lovers (Source: Zaiqa).

IMG_20150917_004821I must admit that it was one of the most memorable meals of my life. The food was truly delectable. I started with the famed chapli kebab of Pakistan- the flat kebabs made with whole spices. In India, the focus is more on making the kebabs tender such that they simply melt in mouth. Whereas, the chapli kebabs, I sampled in the festival were coarse in texture and the use of whole spices seem to have added a different taste to it. The raw spices especially the coriander seeds blended well with the meat.  Another starter, chargah- whole spring chicken, double cooked, steamed and later fried with spices was delicious too. Lahori fish fry was worth trying- the surmai fish is first marinated with lahori spices and later deep fried. Other dishes in the starters were murgh boti and malai mushrooms.

In the main course, I had mutton nahari which appeared to be quite distinct from the Delhi one. This dish was a little spicier and the mutton pieces were bigger in size. The gravy was excellent and had a stew-like consistency. Chef Gulzar revealed that nahari and siri paya is a popular breakfast dish in Pakistan. The same dishes are still popular in Old Delhi- nahari, magaz/bheja and nalli. That brings our Old Delhi food culture a bit closer to Pakistan. Macchli salan was yet another dish cooked with ajwain and methi.

A vegetarian dish, aloo ki katliyan became one of my favourites.  It was a dry preparation of potato with tomato, cumin and turmeric. The recipe seemed to be really simple but the dish was flavourful. The biryani was again full of flavours- memoni biryani – an extremely spicy biryani developed by memons of Gujarat-Sindh region. It is cooked in akhni style. In desserts, pethay ka halwa, sheer khorma, and lab-e-shireen – rich Pakistani custard with fresh cut fruits and dry nuts were served.

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Journey through Deccan

Journey through Deccan

By Anubhav Sapra

Onam, a festival of Kerala is celebrated with a lavish vegetarian feast (Sadya) served on a banana leaf. In Delhi, at Kerala House, every year, foodies queue up despite the humid weather to relish the rich feast. I also had my fill on the last day of the food festival. Such lavish feast it was that I already started missing it the very next day. The moment I tried to convince myself to wait for the next year, I received this invitation from Eros Hotel, Nehru Place.

This invitation was to savour the South Indian delicacies in the ‘Journey through Deccan’ food festival. And I couldn’t have been more happier. The festival coincided with the end of Onam Sadya. The journey through Deccan is celebrating the diversity of food available in the 5 states of South India- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka. The menu is rotational covering the popular dishes of the South Indian states. The buffet is priced at INR 1750 plus taxes for the Lunch and INR 1850 plus taxes for the dinner.

IMG_20150903_184850My journey of Deccan started with cream based piping hot Rasam and starters like Parippu vada, Shikampuri Kebab, Prawn Pepper fry and Lukhmi (a local variation of patty, stuffed with chicken kheema).  Shikhampuri Kebab of Hyderabad was excellent in taste- soft and not too oily.

In the main course, I had Appam (rice pancake), Malabar parantha and Chicken stew. In fact, Appam and Chicken stew (simmered in coconut milk) is a popular breakfast dish in Kerala as it is easy to make and mild in spices.
The other dishes on offer are Thengai sadam (coconut rice), Ambur Chicken Biryani (Tamil special), Mutton Sukha (Andhra Style Lamb preparation), Pumpkin pulissary (white pumpkin simmered in yoghurt gravy), Bendakkai (Pulikozhambu (Okra simmered in tamarind curry)

My journey through Deccan ended with sweet Mysore Pak and Elanir Payasam and a strong flavorful filter coffee served in traditional Madras style Dabarah.

The Journey through Deccan festival ends on 5thSeptember. Grab it before it’s too late!

 

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Delhi 6 se 19

Delhi 6 se 19

Street food festival at Singh Sahib, Eros Hotel

By Anubhav Sapra

Singh Sahib at The Eros Hotel is one of the few five star restaurants in Delhi which has a loyal fan following. I visited the hotel on a weekday and the restaurant  was bustling with patrons. I got to know there that the restaurant is hosting a Street Food Festival by the name of Delhi 6 se Delhi 19. The name signifies the food it intends on celebrating : The old Delhi street food which covers the areas of Delhi 6 (Delhi 6 being the postal code of Old Delhi) and Delhi 19 (Delhi 19 being the postal code of Nehru Place).

To exhibit the flavors unique to the old Delhi street food palate, live counters of the dishes have been put up in the ongoing festival. On offer are the popular street food dishes – golgappe, chaat, desi drinks, sweets, kebabs, omelets, biryani and quintessential chhole bhature. The dishes are being served on disposable plates to provide an authentic experience of eating out in the streets.

I began with aloo tikki and papdi chaat. Both of these dishes were made with the right interplay of spices and served with saunth and dhaniya chutney.  Next from the chaat counter, I had golgappas which were served with pudina ka paani (mint flavoured water) and saunth.

After trying small portions of chole bhature, rajma chawal and kadi chawal, my carnivorous drive got me straight to the kebabs and biryani counter though the first iem I tried was egg bhurji. The biryani looked distinct, different from the regular mirch masala biryani which we get on the streets of Jama Masjid. The other mutton biryani was surpassed by any other that I have had. It had tender pieces of meat, cooked in basmati rice which was mildly flavoured.

A lot of effort has gone in to conceptualizing the street food festival; as the presence of a variety of snacks and sweets are ensured. from the Halwai counter. The sweets on offer are balushahi, milk cake, besan laddu, burfi, jalebi, and halwa parantha. I was surprised to see parantha being served with sooji ka halwa. This shows that the Chef has really travelled to the interiors of Old Delhi to bring out the best of the dishes. Halwa and parantha is a popular delicacy in Nizamuddin and Jama Masjid. I have seen evenings in Chitli Qabar, when Halwa Parantha walas on pushcarts cut paranthas into small pieces and serve halwa on them. Although the halwa was a bit sweet for me, I really enjoyed Jalebis which were thin, crisp and slightly flavoured with saffron.

My street food journey ended with a rabri kulfi stick. Indeed, it appeared to be a good attempt to showcase the variety of street delicacies under one roof. The festival is on till 6th August and priced at Rs 1650/- per person without taxes.

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Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Flavours of Thailand

Flavours of Thailand

By Priyali Prakash

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With the ever increasing exposure to different cuisines from all over the world, Indians are experimenting with their choices even more and Thai cuisine has definitely stood out as one of the favourites. Keeping this in mind, Blooms Restaurant of Eros International, Nehru Place has come up with a Thai Food Festival.

With an exotic buffet of colourful vegetables and succulent meats laid out on a boat-shaped table decorated with antiques inspired by Thai way of living, Blooms has gone out of their way to invite Chef Mhee from Chiang Mai restaurant, Gurgaon to showcase an authenticity of flavours in the food being served during this festival.

While the Naam Takrai, the lemongrass cooler served as the welcome drink comes across as a little too sweet, the following appetisers specially Som Tam, raw papaya salad with a fish sauce dressing and dry shrimp, garlic, chilli, lime and palm sugar is a delicious start to the meal. The mince chicken salad with spring onions is quite minty in flavour.

The Po Pai Thod, vegetable spring rolls can easily pass off as our regular spring rolls whereas Koong Pun Ooy, prawns with sugarcane is a sure shot winner among the snacks. The dish does not have the peculiar smell that goes with maximum prawn dishes and tastes amazing at the same time, which makes it stand out from the other dishes.

The chicken and tofu Satay comes with a tangy cucumber salad and choice of peanut butter and sweet chilli sauce as side dips. Other starters include Thod Man Plan, fish cakes and Thod Man Khao Phod, corn cakes.

The mains include the Thai favourite, Phad thai noodles which have a sweetish tinge to them. Also served for the mains is steamed rice infused with fresh herbs. The Pla Nueng Ma Nao, lemon steamed fish is the best of the lot. Conventionally a street food in Thailand, this steamed fish comes with a tangy lemon sauce and chillies- simple yet full of flavours. The fish is soft and steamed to perfection. Phad Phak Ruam Mitr, the stir fried mixed vegetables are a good option for vegetarians, considering that there aren’t really many vegetarian options. The Phad Nam Prik Pow Kae, lamb stir with Thai chilli paste tastes a lot like our desi lamb chilli.

Goong Samun Prai, sweet and sour tamarind prawns with crispy thai herbs makes a refreshing dish. The curries are a little somewhat coconutty in flavour- both the Soya chop Penang curry and the mixed vegetables in yellow curry.

In desserts, Tub Tim Krob  (Sweetened crispy water chestnuts in sweet coconut milk with crushed ice) and Klauy Buad Chee (Banana in warm sweet coconut milk) were amazing to end the food journey.

Word of Caution: Most of the dishes have a dominating taste and aroma of ginger and lemongrass. Make sure that you don’t have a problem with too much of these very strong flavours.

 The festival is on till April 19th at Eros Hotel, Nehru Place

 

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.