Cubbon Pavilion at ITC Gardenia, Bangalore is hosting Dawat-E-Khaas with Master Chef Kunwar Rani Kulsum Begum, from 23rd January – 1st February 2015. Dawat-E-Khaas anchored by her highness Kulsum Begum is a culinary journey through the regal past of the princely state of Hyderabad. Begum Sahiba was born in the royal household of Salar Jung III the erstwhile Nawab of Hyderabad and marriage introduced her to another Nawabi city of India – Lucknow. Over the years despite of living in different parts of the country her love for Hyderabad cuisine is unwavering and true-hearted. The evening progressed with a conversation with Begum Sahiba and her culinary journey from the royal household kitchen to one of the finest hotels of the country, regardless of long day in the kitchen her presence on the dinner table was equally enchanting as her Hyderabadi style Hindi and heart warming innocent smile.
For ‘Dawat-E-Khas’ the menu that Begum Sahiba has chosen is no doubt an amalgam of the various influences that shaped the cuisine from the ancient era till date. The Master Chef herself thoughtfully designed the menu and the recipes for Dawat-E-Khaas and she makes sure during the entire week of festival none of the dishes are repeated in the menu, such impeccable is the collection of her recipes. These recipes are part of her royal treasure and represents her family traditions, sincerely passed on from one generation to another, for each dinner of Dawat-E-Khaas Begum Sahiba herself rustle up all the dishes in the menu in the best possible conventional manner.
Dawat-E-Khaas is a buffet spread comprising of two – three appetizers, main course of vegetarian – meat/shelfish curries, biryanis/pulaos, flatbreads and desserts. On the particular day entree were vegetarian beetroot ke kebab and on the contrary prawns ke tikki, both were equally mouth melting and delicately flavored but our favorite was beetroot ke kebab for the unique inclusion of beetroot in kebab. Moving towards the main course from the vegetarian spread we tasted each one of them – Mutter Ki Dal, Baigan ke Katle, Chukundur ka Bharta, Chichinda aur Masoor ki Subzi, Paneer Ka Salan, Methi Pulao after tasting these vegetarian delicacies I realized Hyderabad cuisine has much more to offer than biryani/meat curries. When Begum Sahiba was asked about the vast vegetarian feast she explained how back home their daily meals were accompanied by variety of dals, vegetarian curries along with meat/fish and especially during the month of Muharram her entire family would consume only vegetarian meal.
For the second round of main course we tasted the meat/seafood curries – Murgh Moongfali, macchi Hara Pyaaz, Jhinga Kofta, Ghost Aloo ka Salan, Murgh Narwal Pulao, Kachhe Ghost ki Biryani was not in the menu that day and I definitely missed it on my plate. Both the vegetarian and meat curries, side dishes, biryani/pulao had distinctive pleasing taste, with each spoonful hours spend on slow cooking these dishes could be tasted, there were no traces of over powering whole spices, each dish was hearty , wholesome and flavorful. The menu was the quintessential balance of vegetables, meats, shellfish, fish and rice.
The dessert selection for the evening menu was simply exquisite and delectable – Paheli ke Ande (melon ball poached in delicate china grass pudding resembling soft boiled egg), Halwe ki Gilori (halwa folded inside thin fluffy crepes) and Chawal ke Mujjafar (rice pudding in which each grain of rice came together still remain intact and fluffy). This was my first experience with these unusual Hyderabadi desserts, each dessert had that saffron laced aroma around it embellished with slivered pistachios, dry fruits, rose petals standing with elegance in the middle of the buffet and plated well enough to tempt diner towards them.
My sincere thanks to Chef Madhav Nambiar (Jr. Sous Chef, Cubbon Pavilion) for making the evening so memorable.
Disclaimer: The review was done on an invitation from Cubbon Pavilion – ITC Gardenia, my opinion and words are unbiased and totally based on my experience at the restaurant. But as they say, “Food is Subjective” so kindly exercise your own discretion, with the understanding that this is writer’s personal opinion.