Eating out ~ Journey of Godavari ~ Food festival at Okra, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre

The Hyderabad Marriott has a special place in my heart. K and I frequented the coffee shop during our courtship, sitting at a table overlooking the pool, lingering over their delectable array of desserts while we tried to get some more time together. We also celebrated our first wedding anniversary there and it was probably one of the few times K agreed to sit with dim lights and eat!

When I was invited to sample the food at their Journey of Godavari, I was intrigued by the name. This a special food trail which chronicles the river Godavari’s influence on flavors and presents the cuisines of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra.

Chef Yogi
Chef Yogi

According to Executive Chef Yogender Pal or Yogi as he is fondly known as, the planning and research took more than a month. Recipes were dug out from family and friends, ingredients were sourced and dishes were tested. A team of his best cooks, including those that hail from the regions of Maharashtra, Telangana and Andhra came together to bring this offering to the people of Hyderabad. Each dish was tested for authenticity by putting it to a taste test by the experts.

I can’t remember when I ate anything Maharashtrian on a menu anywhere. So when we began our meal with the delightfully sharp Misal Rassa, I am pleasantly surprised. The thick tomato and spice based soup has a base of moong and mati sprouts. It is a thinner  version of misal and the chef says that when made into a thick gravy it can be eaten with bread or rice. The flavours are sharp and tangy, the sprouts adding a bit of body to the soup.

Ulli Garelu with Tomato and Onion Chutney
Ulli Garelu with Tomato and Onion Chutney

Next up we try the Andhra favourite – Ulli Garelu which is essentially the Andhra version of the medhu vada, served with a spicy tomato and onion chutney that is coarsely ground. I loved the crisp vada with the rustic chutney.

Kothmir Vadi
Kothmir Vadi

There is also the Kothmir Vadi which is surprisingly moist, chickpea flour tempered with spices and a lot of fresh coriander leaves is steamed and then deep fried. This is served with a green chutney and I loved the flavours of this Vadi.

For the mains, the pre set tasting meal was served as a thali although the dishes for the festival are a part of the evening dinner buffet.

The Main Course Offering
The Main Course Offering

We had a Maharashtrain Kolambichi Bhaji – Lots of finely chopped onion sauteed with spices, tomato and lots of fresh grated coconut and fat succulent prawns lovingly nestled in the thick gravy. This is not a flowing gravy dish, but it isn’t dry weither. The prawns were very fresh and melded so well with the sweetness of the onions in the masala.

The crowd favourite Natu Kodi Pulusu – country chicken cooked homestyle in a gravy thick with spices, this is the legacy of the telugu states of both Andhra and Telangana. To me this was my least favourite dish, not because it was badly made, but there were other stand out dishes on the menu that I tasted.

The Konaseema Korameenu Kura was a tamarind gravy based fish curry which uses the regions favourite fillets of Murrel fish. What added superb flavour to this dish was the pearl onions used whole in this curry. What I loved about this dish was it was completely home style and the flavours of the ingredients were drawn out by cooking it on a gentle and slow simmer. This curry pairs excellently with the Pullattu – a thick and spongy dosa made from slightly sour batter.

There are many other delicacies such as the Pachi Royyalu Gongura (fresh prawns cooked with tart sorrel leaves) and a crab in the shell preparation also from the Coastal Andhra area.

For the vegetarians, there is a huge array of dishes. Each one representative of the region and robust with flavours.

I tried the Muvva Vankaya – Similar to the gutti vankaya, but drier because it is sans any gravy. Bursting with the nutty flavour of ground sesame and peanuts along with garlic and other spices that are stuffed into slit baby brinjals and cooked till the brinjals are melt in the mouth soft.

The Hing Aloo Jeera was adequately spiced and flavoured, a nice simple preparation for a vegetarian must have – potato.

The most impressive vegetarian dish of the day for me was the Ambat Godavaran – Channa dal cooked to a mush and flavoured with raw mango pieces and sweetened with jaggery, this had deep flavours and was so creamy and indulgent, that it is best enjoyed with some plain steamed rice. I am not very fond of sweetened lentils, but this was terrific.

Gummadi Kaya pulusu (pumpkin cooked in a tangy gravy), Panasa ginjalu vepudu (sauteed jackfruit seeds) and the famed Ullavacharu is also on offer.

The dishes are part of the dinner buffet. Each day there is a selection that is available. There are live counters serving dosa, rotis etc.

Amongst the rice dishes, the Karivepaku Annam that I tasted was superb! the fresh and strong flavours of curry leaves used both in paste and powder form to flavour tempered rice was an excellent accompaniment to the curries.

For desserts we had the Puran Poli – a delicate roti stuffed with benga gram and jaggery cooked and then mashed. We also had a crisp Arisey, which is a deep fried sweet made of jaggery and rice powder. The sesame seed crust gave it a nice nutty flavour and crunch.

The festival began on the 28th of August and ends on 6th September.

Recomended Dishes: Muvva Vankaya, Misal Rassa, Ambat Godavaran, Konaseema Korameenu Kura

Dates of the Festival: 28th August to 6th September

Price: The buffet is priced at 1358 All Inclusive

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre & Courtyard by Marriott Hyderabad, Opposite Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad – 500080

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 4027522999

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