Lesser known fare from the Valley finds place in Hometels Kashmir spread
Laying out a spread of dishes from the Valley seems to be the most popular way to celebrate Kashmir in the city. After Bella Vista and Taj Chandigarh,Hometel has announced its Kashmir food festival. The weather,especially the biting winds in the last couple of days,makes one want to reach out for anything hot and comforting. At such a time,the Kashmiri fare with its rich ingredients (with abundant use of dry fruits and mustard oil) and warm gravies seems like a good option when one decides to dine out. But at the same time,a Kashmiri food festival runs the risk of bringing in the predictable rogan josh,rista,gushtaba and the like.
Expecting something similar,we arrived at Hometel thats offering a reasonably large Kashmiri spread in its daily lunch and dinner buffets. Interestingly,the Kashmiri fare is being dished out by visiting chefs from Srinagar,Chef Razak and Chef Rayaz Ahmad,who specialise in putting together Wazwan,a multiple-dish-menu traditionally prepared during special occasions.
The lunch buffet packs in starters,soup,main course and dessert for Rs 399 (taxes extra). For those who relish chicken,it wont be wise to skip the Kakk Kukar. It might look like as if tandoori chicken has been tossed in a tomato gravy,but its more than that. The chicken was tender,succulent and unlike the Punjabi kukkar served at most restaurants. For those who would like some fish,theres Safeed Gard more like fish in white sauce which is low on flavour but easy and light. Theres the Rista (mutton balls in rich gravy) to try if you want to stick to the popular-favourite route.
Our recommendation would be to pair up Kander Cuch or Kashmiri bread (just a caution,its sweet) with Gucchi Matar. The latter is exotic mushrooms cooked with peas and though delicate in presentation,this dish is powerfully intense. Its quite surprising to see gucchi (the expensive variety is not easily available in the city) a part of the spread. It surely makes the buffet a treat.
Not everything is exceptional though. The Guji Waza made out of Kashmiri turnip is fine if you have a weak stomach. The Chok Amber,a vegetable made from apples,is sweet and sour and might not appeal to the Punjabi palate,which is used to fiery meals.
The desserts bring in the likes of phirni (well done,not overtly sweet),apple kheer and shufta. The latter are dry fruits mixed in sugar and a little portion works well. The menu,we are told,is cyclic.
The food festival is on till February 12 Location: Hometel,Industrial Area,Phase 1,Chandigarh Contact: 4299999