What immediately comes to mind when people talk about Hyderabad? Without doubt, it’s the city’s cuisine. Be it biriyani, haleem or nihari, name a dish and it becomes difficult to resist the temptation to gorge on it.
And here’s a chance to indulge in the culinary excellence of the city as The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel in east Delhi has laid out scrumptious fare themed “Dine Like A Maharaja” with the best-kept secrets from the royal kitchens. It’s set in an open space that has been transformed into a mini Hyderabad.
“We started off the ‘Dine Like A Maharaja’ concept with another city last month to relive and relish the culinary excellences of the towns and cities which have a royal connection. After Hyderabad, we have plans to bring more recipes of such cities,” Devashree Mahajan, Head PR and Marketing Communications, told IANS.
And, for bringing out the best, Chef Ashwani Kumar Singh had travelled to Hyderabad and engaged with local chefs over three days for a detailed understanding of the culinary delights on offer.
“I am a regional chef and want to showcase the best flavours of our region. My target was to offer dishes with distinct tastes which don’t clash with one another,” Chef Ashwani said.
As I entered the space, the aroma of the kebabs rising from the grills greeted me and up first was the hot and tangy miryala rasam for a perfect start in the mild chill of a November evening. And, to please my palette came an array of starters — a heavenly culinary journey for meat lovers.
Of the many served on my plate were Telengana ki khaas seekh and coriander flavoured Nizam-e-tawa murg. Khorme ka kebab and shikampoor made from minced chicken and mutton keema were delightful. What made these two tikki kebabs stand out was that they were non-oily, finely minced and had well-marinated stuffings mixed with spices.
It was now the turn of the famous Hyderabadi haleem. Although the dish is served in various avatars in different corners of the country, the mouth-watering flavour of Hyderabad haleem makes it stand apart from the rest. And the one served to me more than matched up to my expectations.
Then came the main course. Although there are eight items included in the buffet, I went ahead with three as suggested by the Chef — nihari, handi ka ghost and dum ka murg — which I relished with rogani roti and warqi parantha.
However, my purpose of visiting the festival was accomplished when my eager wait came to an end with the authentic Hyderabadi biriyani served on my plate. A very well cooked biriyani with the right amount of flavours — what more would a foodie need to calm down her craving for Hyderabadi food?
After relishing the last spoon of the biriyani, the Chef said there are 11 dessert items to be tasted. With hardly any space left in my tummy, I initially declined to try them out, but on Chef Ashwani’s insistence I bravely dug my spoon into gil-e-firdaus, khajoor ka halwa, khubani ka meetha, nimish and shahi tudka. Actually, I found it very difficult to resist filling my spoon with the sweet delights.
Although Hyderabadi cuisine is primarily known for its meat dishes, this festival will not leave vegetarian visitors disappointed, assured the Chef.
“Of course it was difficult to come up with the vegetarian dishes because there’s not much variety and demand for non-meat items. So I gave some twists and turns to the dishes like kaddu ka dalcha, diwani handi, besan ke nimboo and many more,” he added.
So, without any delay, spoil yourself with delicious and unexplored dishes of Hyderabad sitting in the national capital.
What: “Dine Like A Maharaja” Hyderabadi food festival at The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel in east Delhi; on till November 26
Cost of meal for one: Rs 1,591 + taxes (without alcohol) (Hyderabad was founded in 1,591, hence the price)
Timing: Only dinner from 7.30 p.m to 11.30 p.m.
(Somrita Ghosh attended the food festival on an invitation from The Leela. She can be contacted at email@example.com)