Kanak, the Indian restaurant at Trident Hyderabad has been showcasing some well known and not so well known cuisines of the country. We all love our punjabi and south Indian food, but when was the last time you ate food from Jammu or tasted a home style vegetable and chicken stew from Arunachal Pradesh?
This is a food festival (on till the 30th of January 2016) where one gets to sample food that would either remain unknown or is accessible only at the home of someone from that state. This time, Chef Manik Magrotra and his team have chosen to showcase lesser known home style dishes from across the country, including several dishes from Jammu, Magrotras home state, which is otherwise eclipsed by the more well known Kashmir.
A group of food loving bloggers was at the table a few evenings ago to partake in this dinner and the evening began with a chana dal and rice flour (vada) fried dumpling called Thattai, served with a coconut chutney. This to a south Indian is a well known preparation, tempered with spiced and curry leaves, the chana dal vada is a crisper, slightly harder cousin of the popular medu vada. Thattai has many versions and is a popular evening snack in the south, this one was made similar to what is available at Kanyakumari. Though the vada was crisp, the flavours were very subtle, allowing the lentils to stand out.
Contrasting the mild thattai, was the Aloo Debarre from Jammu. This was a tangy ans spicy potato filled fritter, coated with gram flour (besan). It had sharp flavours and a generous amount of heat from the green chillies, served with a very surprising tamarind and radish chutney which I’ve never eaten before, the tangy earthy flavours of the tamarind, in complete contrast with the punch of the fresh radish.
There was also the melt in the mouth Bhopali keeme ki seekh which is lamb mine, cooked with onion and khoya (reduced milk) to give it a luxurious texture).
For the main course, we had a home style Mutton Kolhapuri which was one of the stand out dishes of the evening with the robust flavours of the spices and yet not as fiery and overwhelming as it usually is. This is an oft abused dish, doused with a lot of heat from chillies usually, but this preparation, the Chef and his team ensured that the recipe was authentic home style.
We were informed that recipes were taken from the homes and families of the various team members on the staff who hail from various parts of the country. Time was spent to discover what they would eat at home, get the recipes and stick to them despite recreating them in a commercial kitchen and therein lies the attention to detail.
We had a tawa chicken from Jammu, cooked with onions and tomatoes and so different from what I know as tawa chicken.
I loved the simple and yet flavourful Jan, from Arunachal pradesh. This is a stew like curry made from seasonal vegetables and smoked chicken. There is mild heat from the chillies, but the flavours of the vegetables and the milk smokey flavour of the chicken really comes through. This is best enjoyed with plain steamed rice.
Speaking of smoked flavours, one of the most popular dishes of the evening was the Bihari Aloo Chokha with litti. If you aren’t acquainted with this combination and are a fan of smokey rustic flavours, this is a must try. The litti is dumplings made of wheat dough, smoked on coals and then doused with ghee, they are aromatic, crisp and smokey on the outside and soft on the inside. Pair this with Aloo Chokha which is a mix of smoked potatoes, brinjal and crushed with onion, green chillies and spices, mixed with mustard oil. This is the everyday food of the humble and yet the flavours are so beautiful. My mouth just watered as I finished typing these sentences.
One of the dishes I loved was the Chakke ki Sabzi from Madhya Pradesh, my research tells me that there is a similar dish made in the state of Rajasthan as well. The main ingredient in this dish is the gluten from the wheat dough, which is extracted in a laborious process – a dough is made of wheat flour and then put under flowing water to wash away the bran and leave just the mass of gluten which is then cut into pieces and made into a curry. The flavour is similar to Soy nuggets, but I have to say I enjoyed this one. If you are upto tryig something new, do give this a shot. The gravy flavoured with cinnamon and other warming spices is every bit an Indian gravy and tastes wonderful with any kind of flat bread, we had it with Kyur, a rustic bread from Jammu.
There was a home style pumpkin curry flavoured with tamarind, jaggery and chillies, cooked in mustard oil called Ambal, again from Jammu.
We tried the pea and spices stuffed masala poori from Bihar, which my fellow diners told me is similar to the Bengali Matar Kachori. we also sampled Kanika, a mildly sweet rice preparation flavoured with nuts and saffron.
To end this culinary journey was Chenna Poda (from Orissa) which I found rather dry and too in your face with the rose essence, I didn’t enjoy this and a Khaja from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh which is a rolled pastry fried and dunked in sticky sugar syrup.
The evening ended with some raucous laughter with my dinner mates and was an interesting journey to taste dishes I would not have even known of. I enjoyed my meal (which was complimentary!) and recommend this to anyone who wants to try lesser known dishes from the country.
The menu is available as A La Carte until the 30th of January 2016.
Kanak, The Trident, Hitech City, Hyderabad
Recommendations: Aloo Debarre, Bhopali keeme ki seekh, Aloo chokha with Litti, Chakke ki sabzi, Mutton Kolhapuri, Jan
Dinner for two excluding alcohol: Rs. 2500 (approx.)
Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323