Happy New Year my dearest readers! I hope the year has begun well for you and that the rest if it will bring to us all the love of friends and family, good food and warmth in our hearts, especially in these uncertain times.
I have no personal goals for this year, like the one before because I find them pointless. So no, I am not going to be losing weight, or eating in moderation or earning more. I want to live in the moment and savour it, a little more consciously than I already do.
Kanak, the award winning Indian restaurant nestled at Trident Hyderabad, under the stewardship of the delightful Manik Magotra is bringing their much appreciated Food Festival Rivaayat back to the city for the third time. The festival showcases celebrated recipes from the regions of Awadh, Punjab, New Delhi and Hyderabad.
I was invited to sample a few of the offerings at a preview and I must say that Kanak continues to keep its position as one of my favoured Indian dining places.
Chef Praful who is at the helm of the kitchen this time talked about how some old favourites from the previous few outings have been retained and a few new ones added. The emphasis was on allowing a couple of star ingredients to shine without overpowering it with heavy duty masalas which is what most people associate Indian cooking with these days.
The carefully curated menu has a bit of everything. We started with an array of appetizers. Aloo Kachalu a light salad like dish made from boiled and tempered potato and colocasia, sprinkled with steamed black eyed peas, roasted nuts and a spicy chutney. The chutney brought together all the flavours and did not over power everything else. Even someone who is not very fond of the usually slimy colocasia will enjoy this light appetiser.
Khumb ki galavat a vegetarian rendition of the famous galauti kebab, was true to its name, melt in the mouth. It was hard to tell that this was a vegetarian rendition as the flavours and texture was EXACTLY like the meat version. This was the standout appetiser of the evening.
For the non vegetarian options, we were served Khatti kairi ka Rampuri jhinga, prawns marinated in yogurt and raw mango and then cooked in a tandoor. I have a severe food allergy to prawns so I did not taste this, but my fellow diners enjoyed this very much, saying the flavours were so sublte that it was sublime.
Lagan ki Boti, lamb kebabs braised with nuts and caramelised onions was a dish where technique stood out. It was hard to miss the subtle spices, marinating the meat for a long time, slow cooked to a state where it simply gave under the pressure of the fork, I could also taste the desi ghee in this dish which added such a depth of flavour to the lamb along with the sweetness from the slow caramelised onion. This is a dish that combines the best of traditional Indian cooking, ample marination and slow cooking. A stand out dish for meat lovers.
The main course that followed had Mahi Kaliya I have mentioned earlier that brought up on a strongly spiced and tamarind infused Andhra style fish curry, I welcome the lightly spiced Kaliya where the fish stands out. The fish used was Bekti and the light stew of ground onions, with just a spot of tamarind to give it a slight tang was refreshing.
Puran Singh ke dhabe wali chicken curry while is a mouthful to say, this simple home style chicken curry with a runny gravy is perfect to mop up with fresh naans or a light pulav. If you are missing homestyle chicken this is the dish to order. I am always delighted when the chicken used is tender and succulent as opposed to the rather tough cuts of meat one usually encounters these days.
For a person who has never met a Sarson ka saag I have liked, I was happy to be proven wrong with this. The pureed mustard greens, tempered with simple spices in ghee and eaten with Makki ki roti which is a flatbread made with coarsely ground corn meal was fresh and rustic. This winter speciality from Punjab is much celebrated on the interwebs and each time I heard its praises, I wondered what the big deal was because I had always tasted poorly made versions. This version I must admit made me take back all my words. Comforting and flavourful, don’t miss this dish if you are a lover of your greens.
Baingan ka bharta, smoked brinjals, cooked down to a mash, in a gravy of onion, garlic and tomatoes again is a dish that is popular, but not everyone gets right. This one was so well made that the smoky flavour was subtle enough to remind one of how it was prepared, but not loud enough to dominate.
We also had home style Lucknowi dal, channa dal made very simply with a mild tempering, Punjabi matar pulao, a rice dish that is generous, flavoured with caramelised onion and fresh peas, it lends itself to the star curries and doesnt draw attention to itself. I also had a sheermal from the assorted breads on offer, simply to try something other than a regular naan or tandoori roti.
The meal ended on a sweet note with Gulab phirnee, a rice pudding flavoured with fresh rose petals which was not too sweet and hence such a nice change from the usually sugar loaded Indian desserts. The Dry fruit halwa was studded with blanched dried nuts, figs and a whole host of other dried fruit, poppy seeds, etc. and I did a double take when I read in the description that it contained bottle gourd, because I could taste none of it. Again not overpoweringly sweet and hence I was able to guiltlessly demolish two entire pieces of this rich halwa.
The underlying theme of the meal was subltety. No overpowering masalas, no power games with cooking techniques. Just back to basics and giving in completely to old world slow cooking.
Rivaayat has been well received in its previous outings and will am sure be enjoyed this time as well. The festival is on until the 25th of January and is open only for dinner, menu offers A la carte options.
The promotional is on till the 25th of January 2017. Do not miss this!
Rivaayat, at Kanak, Trident, Hyderabad
Recommendations: Khumbh ki gahlavat, Lagabn kiosk bout, Mahi kaliya, Sarson ka saag, dry fruit halwa
Timing: 7.30 pm to midnight.
Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323