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{Eating Out ~ Khasa Dastarkhwan} at Kanak, Trident Hyderabad

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There is a special food festival happening at Kanak, the Indian specialty restaurant at Trident Hyderabad. Called Khasa Dastarkhwan which loosely translated from Urdu means, Special ceremonial dining and showcases Mughlai cuisine.

Pretty Table Setting

Pretty Table Setting

Being from Hyderabad, the raging debate about which city does Mughlai food better between Hyderabad and Lucknow is tough to escape. To be very honest, I find debates on authenticity and ratings of food from various places and communities extremely tiring. Each place and every interpretation of a recipe is dependent on so many things which include but are not limited to the geography and weather to the availability of ingredients. I would like to believe that each place brings to the table, its own version of a dish and can therefore not be compared.

This food festival is special because it brings to hardcore Hyderabad a version of the food so loved by the city and its people. Awadhi cuisine, largely represented by Lucknow and some parts of old Delhi is a richly documented and well-loved cuisine. The chefs from the Trident hotels across India were specially trained by some of the most famous cooks of Awadhi cuisine, both from Lucknow and the Jama Masjid area of Delhi even to maintain authenticity. Each recipe has been standardised to ensure the end product is the same no matter which hotel of the Trident one eats at. Chef Sandeep Bhattacharya is heading the kitchen here in Hyderabad and has done a wonderful job of putting together a menu with some of the most loved dishes and introducing new ones for the festival.

With this as the background, and having eaten on numerous occasions at the various restaurants at Trident, I was excited to join my dinner companion and fellow blogger Preethi to try out some of the dishes.

Chilli Martini and Kadak Roomali

Chilli Martini and Kadak Roomali

We began with a delightfully sharp Chilli vodka martini for me and a Pina colada for Preethi. The chilli martini had a nice kick from the green chilli and was a good accompaniment to the Kadak Roomali – a crisp version of the roomali roti, served with toppings of freshly shredded onion, tomato, coriander and herbs with a generous sprinkling of cheese.

Galouti Kebab and Seekh Nilofari

Galouti Kebab and Seekh Nilofari

For the appetizers, we had the Seekh Nilofari – a seekh kabab made of khoya which is reduced milk and finely minced vegetables, a generous amount of nuts and subtle spices, grilled on a skewer. The sweetness of the reduced milk khoya (khoa) which is generously used in mughlai cooking both in sweet and savoury dishes, the crunch of the nuts and the very subtle flavours of the carefully chosen spices of which cardamom and mace stood out. Usually Mughlai cuisine is partial to meat eaters, but this kebab was delightful.

For the non vegetarian appetizer, we sampled the famed Galouti kebab, soft succulent lamb meat, pounded till the texture becomes buttery and cooked with kebab spices on a heated griddle. This was served on small discs of Tava paratha and one needs a few moments of silence to savour this brilliant rendition of the Galouti kebab.

Amrood Ki Sabzi

Amrood Ki Sabzi

For the main course we were served Amrood ki Subzi which piqued my interest when I glanced at the menu. So far, I had only eaten guavas raw as fruit, or the occasional jelly or guava cheese. I had never eaten it cooked as a vegetable in a savoury curry. The gravy was thick and rich with a nut paste, almost like a qorma, and the distinctive flavour and aroma of saffron was hard to miss, but the flesh of the guava was the most surprising. Firm and yet moist, with a light hint of sweetness, the guava did not feel out-of-place in the sabzi and went well with the Sheermal that I ate it with.

Main Course Offerings

Main Course Offerings

The Mahar Paneer was large chunks of paneer, stuffed with nuts and cooked in a rich tomato gravy. This was the least impressive dish of the evening for me.

For the Non vegetarians, Mughlai cuisine is synonymous with tasty qormas and gravies that are rich and indulgent. And the two dishes that were presented did not disappoint.

The Murgh Handi Qorma which was a gravy similar to the Amrood ki sabzi. Chicken drumsticks simmered in a gravy that was fragrant with saffron and rose-water and rich with a nut paste. The qorma is best eaten with lightly sweet Sheermal which is a flat bread, the dough kneaded with milk for its softness and mild sweetness.

The  stand out dish of the meal was the Shahi Nihari which is slow cooked lamb with a rich yogurt and saffron gravy. The lamb was succulent and almost falling off the bone, the gravy flavoured with the juices of the lamb and rich from the slow cooked spices, it was a terrific combination with the pudina paratha.

The Lacknawi dal similar to the kaali dal, but less rich and therefore not so heavy. I had this dal on its own and it was very good.

Rampuri Murg Biryani

Rampuri Murg Biryani

How can one have a Mughlai feast and not taste some biryani right? The Rampuri murgh biryani, subtle and yet full of flavour at the same time, succulent chicken cooked to perfection with minimal spices and chilli was fabulous. Even though I desperately love Hyderabadi biryani for it’s in your face spice and flavour kick, it was a delightful little detour to eat an almost delicate version of this much-loved dish.

Kesar Phirni and Rampuri Gulathi

Kesar Phirni and Rampuri Gulathi

We ended the meal with two beautiful desserts, the Kesar Phirni which is a rice pudding flavoured with saffron and a Rampuri Gulathi which is a semolina and Khoa pudding, from the royal kitchens of Rampur. I personally preferred the Kesar phirni because it was just the right balance of sweet and richness.

The festival ends on the 28th of January and they have a four course preset menu that one can choose from, that highlights this cuisine. The dishes are also available to be ordered A la Carte.

The preset menu is priced at ₹ 1975 + taxes per person.

We were invited for this meal and it we were served a tasting menu which was complimentary. The views are my own.

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

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K’s lunchbox is like my one excited cooking moment of the day. What to make (and subsequently pack) is a question I am asking myself almost everyday.

I make a weekly list of things I can make in the stupor of the morning that won’t take too long. It helps to have a list because in the mornings, the last thing I can do is to be creative while watching the clock hands tick away. This pasta (like most pastas in my life) is crowd pleasing and can be done in less than 20 minutes. Quantities can be altered according to need and passes muster on my benchmark for a dish that is a crowd pleaser – is welcome at a lunch / brunch buffet.

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

You know those garlic pods, that decide to spring to life in the vegetable tray of the fridge? I planted a bunch of them in a plastic takeaway tub filled with growing medium. In a week, green garlic shoots were ready for cutting. I snip them with a pair of scissors and they grow back. Conveniently placed on the wall of my kitchen, they are at arms length to be thrown into scrambled eggs, omelets, pasta, soup or a salad. Sometimes I use them in place of fresh coriander leaves as a garnish for Indian style vegetable dishes. They add a mild garlic flavour and are subtle enough not to make you want to drink mouthwash after your meal :PDSC_0406

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta (Serves 2)

3  cups cooked pasta (I used penne, but any short pasta will do)

1 medium onion, sliced thickly

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/4 cup fresh garlic chives

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Olive oil

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the oil, when warm, toss in the red chilli flakes, after a couple of seconds, ensuring the chilli doesn’t burn, add the onion and mushrooms and a little of the salt.

Saute for 3-4 minutes until the mushroom and onions are very lightly caramelising.

Add the cooked pasta, and toss well. Season with salt as per taste, garnish with the garlic chives and toss again. Drizzle with 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil and serve.


{Eating Out ~ Food Festival Review} Flavours of Indonesia (Selamat Datang) at Seasonal Tastes, The Westin

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A few days ago I was at Seasonal Tastes, the popular coffee shop of The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace to sample the food at their “Flavours of Indonesia” a food festival. I was seated at a table in the busy coffee shop buzzing at lunch time. Seasonal Tastes is very popular for their extensive lunch spread and an assortment of the Indonesian dishes are part of their regular buffet. The coffee shop takes advantage of the lobby’s sky-high ceilings and offers both tables and couches for seating. It is always buzzing at meal times, so choosing a quiet corner may need a reservation. The food is spread out extensively and access to the counters is easy.

Chef Muhsoni ~ Image courtesy The Westin

Chef Muhsoni ~ Image courtesy The Westin

I was introduced to the shy Chef Mohammed Muhsoni who is helming the food festival. The Chef is with Le Meridian in Indonesia and has come to this hotel via a collaborative association. The chef traveled with a lot of the ‘difficult to find in India’ ingredients. He also brought with him curry pastes, etc which would be used in the preparation of the food. Executive Sous Chef Rakesh Anand Singh played interpreter and buffet guide and indulged in my questions and finally a request for some galangal to grow in my kitchen garden too! A lot of Indonesian cuisine shows the influence of their trade with India, Arab countries and the rest of Asia and this is visible in the familiar ingredients and flavours that are presented. The food tends to be spicy and fiery for the most part, to pique the taste buds, but is well-balanced and uses a lot of steaming and flash stir frying as their cooking methods to keep the flavour and colour of the ingredients fresh and retain the nutritional value of the food.

One part of the extensive buffet spread

One part of the extensive buffet spread

I went around the elegantly set and busy buffet to do a survey. The Indonesian offerings sat choc a bloc (distinguished by their promotional pictures and labelled neatly) with the dishes on their regular menu which is a melange of global dishes along with local Hyderabadi, Telangana and Andhra offerings. Seasonal Tastes has a really extensive buffet and it is not possible to do justice to the food unless one plans to vegetate for the next couple of hours. I requested for only the Indonesian fare to be served to me to be able to stay sane amidst all that food and focus on reviewing it.

Udan Goreng (prawns) & Sayung Goreng Chumpur (crispy fried vegetables)

Udan Goreng (prawns) & Sayung Goreng Chumpur (crispy fried vegetables)

I started with the Udang Goreng (batter coated deep-fried prawns tossed in green onions, peppers and paprika) the batter coated prawns were done just right, crisp exterior and succulent prawns and I am beginning to marvel at the technique of managing this. The kick of this dish is the paprika that the prawns are tossed with. Fiery is an understatement and I was quick to realize this would set the pace for the rest of the meal. The flavours are fresh and yet hit you with spice. Its going to be interesting for me I keep thinking because I have a high threshold for heat in my food although most of the food I make otherwise is not spicy (only because I cater to another living being at home).

Next up was the Sayur Goreng Chumpur (Crispy fried vegetables sauté in sweet chili sauce) I loved the thin discs of vegetables, my favourite being zucchini and the sweet sticky sauce. Quite a contrast from the heat of the prawns I tasted earlier. This will hopefully be offered on the buffet much after the festival ends.

The Salads ~ fresh, crisp and flavourful

The Salads ~ fresh, crisp and flavourful

For the salads, there was a nice selection of three varieties. First up, I loved the presentation of the vegetarian salads in champagne flutes. Makes for a pretty picture and prompts those passive to salads to try them out. I tasted all three salads. The Bakwan Udans (Tamarind marinated shrimps with vegetables) was fresh tasting and I loved the woody earthy balance that tamarind gives this otherwise crisp salad.

The Ayam Pelallah (Kafir lime turmeric and galangal roasted chicken and glass noodles with vegetables & sprouts) served with a peanut and tamarind dip which had the consistency of a proper chutney. While the salad was good, because I am partial to glass noodles, I loved the familiar flavours of the peanut and tamarind dip. The same ingredients (used extensively in south indian cooking) were given a completely different dressing in this Indonesian dip.

The vegetarian Tofu salad with sprouts was delightful and I loved the creamy texture of the tofu and the contrast it created with the fried tofu pieces and the sprouts. This had a mildly sweet and spicy dressing.

The live stir fry station and the main course dishes

The live stir fry station and the main course dishes

For the main course, there was a Fish and beef dish. The Ikam Stim Lada Hitam (Lemon grass steamed fish in black pepper sauce) was so different from anything else I had tasted. Readers of this blog will know that I am partial to citrus flavours and I think lemongrass and fish are a match made in heaven. Served on a bed of steamed spinach, I loved the combination of the mild lemon grass and the heat from the coarsely ground black pepper in the sauce.

The Daging Tumis Paprika dan Cabe Merah (Sauté beef with capsicum sauce) small slices of beef sauteed with capsicum was a tad chewy and I would happily give it a pass.

Live Stations offering custom made stir fries

Live Stations offering custom made stir fries

They have a live stir fry counter that makes the well known favourites from Indonesian cuisine, Mie Goreng (noodles with vegetables, meat and herbs) and Nasi Goreng (Indonesian style fried rice). I loved the Mie Goreng, taking several helpings of the vegetarian version until I just had to stop.

From the main course, the one dish that stood out for me was the Gulai tahu dan buncis (tofu and beans in a coconut and chilli curry paste) the flavours subtle and layered and so delicate it was a welcome difference from the fiery dishes I’d eaten till then. I was stuffed to the gills, but couldn’t resist taking another helping of this aromatic curry with sticky rice.

The dessert spread

The dessert spread

They had three signature desserts of which the Pulut Hitam (a coconut rice pudding) flavoured with coconut milk and garnished with ripe banana, lychees and rose water soaked raisins) reminded me of the Thai dessert Tub Tim Grob. The flavours are well-balanced and the sweet comes both from the coconut milk and sugar and is subtle, creamy and rich.

The Kue Mangkok (Cup cakes made from tapioca flour) I found them very dry, would give this a miss

The Dadar Gulung (Pancake rolls stuffed with jaggery and coconut) again, I love the combination of jaggery and coconut and this dessert tho a little sweeter than what I prefer is reminiscent of eating another version of a poli due to the stuffing.

This buffet especially with the Indonesian dishes is highly recommended and will be worth all the calories that I ingested. I loved the fiery spice balanced with sugar and the flavours of the fresh herbs of lemongrass & galangal. There is just enough to keep the palate delighted and yet not overwhelm the senses. The dishes change everyday, but some favourites may be repeated based on the requests from guests or the popularity of the dish. At 1327 (All Inclusive) it is total VFM.

Selamat Datang Indonesian Food Festival (part of the lunch and dinner buffet at Seasonal Tastes ~ The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Recommendations: Sayur Goreng Chumpur (Crispy fried vegetables sauté in sweet chili sauce),  Ikam Stim Lada Hitam (Lemon grass steamed fish in black pepper sauce),  Mie Goreng (noodles with vegetables, meat and herbs), Gulai tahu dan buncis (tofu and beans in a coconut and chilli curry paste), Pulut Hitam (a coconut rice pudding)

Price: Rs. 1327 for one (All Inclusive)

Hours: Lunch: 12:00 PM To 03:00 PM
Dinner: 07:00 PM To 11:00 PM

Location: Mindspace IT Park, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Valet Parking: Available
Telephone: 040 33165071 (Reservations are recommended)

PS: The meal was complimentary as I was invited by the hotel to the restaurant, however the views are my own.

Watermelon Feta Salad ~ My version

I buy feta cheese at ridiculous prices here in Hyderabad and have it spoil while I make grand plans to use it inventively. A few days ago, I discovered a still fresh stash of feta in my fridge and cringed at how much I paid for it and how carelessly I kept it. That discovery hardly prompted me to do anything about it. I have been in a food funk lately and I won’t lie.

The only food I am interested in cooking these days is to pack into K’s lunch. One day its a glass noodle salad (which he won’t eat, its for his colleagues), one day plain dal, rotis and sabzi. That apart, I’m eating leftovers.

I have rocket lettuce growing out of control on my rooftop, I’ve neglected it beyond belief. I’m too lazy to go up and have left my plants un-watered for days on end. It is some wonder that they continue to grow. The watermelon lay in my fruit bowl alongside the apples, threatening to topple the bowl in which it sat since sunday and I wondered if I should just slice it up for Sage. I have an assortment of paper tea cups on my kitchen window. I have some lettuce, some garlic chives and radishes growing in them. The radishes I grow only for the leaves and it makes for an excellent rocket leaves substitute.

radish leaves in a salad

radish leaves in a salad

Yesterday, I was online after ages and was trawling my favourite food sites. Suddenly overcome with a fresh dose of guilt, I bolted to the kitchen to make lunch for myself. I gathered the watermelon with Sage underfoot, fished out the feta salad that lay languishing in the fridge and plucked out the lettuce from the paper cups (still too lazy to walk upstairs).

Watermelon and Feta Cheese Salad

Watermelon and Feta Cheese Salad

Watermelon Feta is one of the easiest salads to make. It is also the most forgiving. Usually onions and mint leaves are added. I don’t like either in salad so I skipped the onion and swapped out the scanty lettuce leaves for the mint.

I’ve found fresh paneer to be quite a good substitute for feta. Add salt to the milk and make it freshly at home using this recipe for an easy replacement if you cannot source feta cheese where you live.

Watermelon Feta Salad (Serves 2)

2 cups Cubed and de seeded watermelon (preferably chilled)

1/2 cup of cubed feta cheese

handful of lettuce (or mint leaves if you prefer)

8-10 pitted green Olives, brine rinsed off

For the dressing

2 tablespoons Extra virgin Olive oil

1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

In  a small bowl, add the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well with a fork.

Add the watermelon chunks, lettuce and olives and toss a bit. Pour half of the dressing over this and toss it. Add the cubed feta chunks and pour the remaining dressing over the feta cubes. Serve immediately. Make sure the watermelon chunks are chilled.

Oreo Brownies

I’ve been meaning to break the silence here. Its been far too long and I have typed out posts atleast half a dozen times. Each time to hit the discard button because the posts were either too boring or angsty or some other form of irrelevance. Anyway I will come back and write when I really feel like doing it and in the meanwhile here is a recipe that gathered quite some interest when I posted the picture to my instagram feed.

oreo brownie bites

oreo brownie bites

Use cookies, chocolate chips or even sliced and slivered nuts to your convenience. I am not one of those baker / cooks that goes psycho if an ingredient is missing. I check if the recipe can be adapted and go ahead. However if there are 3 ingredients of a recipe missing, then I simply postpone making that recipe or select another one that works with the ingredients I have. It is quite painful to attempt a recipe when 3 or more ingredients are missing because the end will be nothing like what was promised and one discounts all the changes one made, and yet feels frustrated. Have you ever had that happen?

This is a recipe that I eyeballed based on a basic recipe I have in my head. I have made versions of it and it always turns out good. Personally I am a fudgy brownie fiend. But I find that it is too rich most of the time and that a cakey brownie sometimes makes the cut much more easily. So here it is my recipe for cakey oreo brownies. In the picture below, I’ve used the same recipe and swapped out the Oreos for slivered almonds.

Almond Brownies

Almond Brownies

Cakey Oreo Brownies

(Makes one 9×9 pan or 12 cupcake sized brownie bites)

1 cup Dark chocolate (chopped from a slab of cooking chocolate, I use a brand called Morde)

1/2 cup Butter (unsalted)

3/4 cup Sugar (powdered for easier mixing)

3/4 cup Maida

2 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (I used bru)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (home made vanilla extract) or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

10 Oreo cookies, sliced into halves (or 1/4 cup slivered almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts)

Sift the maida and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave by zapping it for 60 seconds over moderate heat, in two rounds. Stir in between melting this so that the chocolate doesn’t burn. Heat it for another 30-45 seconds to melt everything evenly. If there are lumps, stir it with a spatula or a whisk till smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare the baking pan with parchment paper or line a muffin pan with paper liners

When the chocolate and butter mix has slightly cooled (about 4-5 minutes), stir in the sugar and whisk well till melted.

Crack the eggs one at a time into the melted chocolate mixture and beat them well with a whisk, adding half the vanilla after each egg.

Stir in the coffee powder and add the maida in two batches, stirring gently till it is all mixed. Once the flour is added, do not over mix the batter or mix too vigorously. This activates the gluten in the flour and makes the brownie (or cake/ cookie) very tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin or into the muffin pan. Arrange the halved Oreo cookies on the top of the batter. If using nuts, sprinkle them evenly on top of the batter. Bake for 24-26 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or till a toothpick comes out clean. Each oven is different, so do the toothpick test.

If baking in muffin cups, the  baking time will be 15-16 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes or completely before slicing into squares. Dust with powdered sugar if desired or just dig in.

These brownies are a great make ahead potluck, party or tiffin box treat and will stay fresh at room temperature for a few days or for a week when refrigerated.

{Eating Out ~ Review} Regions of Italy, at Tuscany, Trident Hyderabad

Trident Hyderabad is celebrating turning “1” with panache. They have been doing a lot of activities all through the month to mark this occasion and the food journey is being marked by the presence of Michelin starred Chef Adriano Baldassarre. They have an ongoing “Regions of Italy” at Tuscany their Italian specialty restaurant which I have earlier reviewed here. I was invited to sample the fare over dinner.

We started with the customary freshly baked Focaccia that you dip into olive oil. The texture so light and flavoured with mild herbs, this is something that you can fill your tummy with if you don’t watch out.

Over excited conversations over how Adriano Baldassarre came to India (he is stationed at the Oberoi in Mumbai and takes care of their Italian restaurant Vetro) and the concept of bringing him to Hyderabad, we were served two appetizers from the pre planned menu.

rucola salad

rucola salad

The Rucola Salad with Goat Cheese and Shallot dressing – I love salads and rucola and am excited to see it used as I now grow it in my container garden. The zesty leaves with the slight bitter aftertaste is something that I enjoy. The dressing was generous, and the salad came topped with slivers of green pear, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese. The salad could have had some more goat cheese, I was digging under the leaves to get some, but overall a refreshing salad. If you are trying this, please ask for the goat cheese to be upped a bit.

Fish Emnise

Fish Emnise

The Fish Emnise is Chef Adriano’s creation. The person who served it described it to me as a slow cooked carpaccio of fish. Now carpaccio as per my knowledge (and the world wide web) is a raw meat dish. However this one was more like a cold cut (it was cooked) or a cured meat. A thin pink sliver of fish, dressed minimally with olive oil, micro greens and tiny cubes of tomato. Accompanied by an olive granita, this is a cold dish. It is subtle in its flavour, but for the excellent sweet flavour of the olive granita which one spreads over the fish before eating. To a lay person like me, I would describe it as a cold cut of fish, almost like fish ham, but very subtle in its flavour. The olive granita is what enhances the flavour and experience. It was good to taste a dish so different from what one usually expects as Italian fare.

Pumpkin Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle oil

Pumpkin Soup with Poached Egg and Truffle oil

This was followed by a Pumpkin Soup. The soup had a poached egg, which almost felt like fresh mozzarella, dressed with truffle oil and garlic bread crumbs. The soup is thick and full of flavour and the egg just adds another dimension to its taste and texture. It is silky, until you encounter the poached egg. The yolk of the egg is runny tho, this may not be a pleasant surprise for those who have aversions to eggy encounters! I couldn’t finish the soup because the portion was quite large and I was looking forward to saving space to sample the rest of the meal. For the vegetarians, the soup is served with a knob of parmesan instead of the egg. Read my friend Preethi’s review of her vegetarian experience at Tuscany here.

Chef Adriano Baldassarre

Chef Adriano Baldassarre

Chef Adriano began to cook at the age of 14-15 and he learnt at home before joining a commercial kitchen. He loves to design the menu of the day based on the ingredients that are sourced freshly. He goes with his instinct and has been training the staff here at Tuscany. When asked about his recipes, unlike chefs who have trade secrets, Chef Adriano  believes every hand brings a special and unique touch to the dish. He loves the chaos and energy of the kitchen and confesses that his family suffers the most with his erratic hours.

Duck Ravioli

Duck Ravioli

For the pasta course, two dishes were selected. One was the Duck Ravioli with mushroom and thyme. Now duck is a meat that is not easily available in Hyderabad, so any opportunity to sample it must be snapped up. The pastas at Tuscany are all freshly hand made and the flavour is so fresh that they need only a minimal sauce or dressing to bring the dish together. The tiny little circles of pasta were stuffed with seasoned and shredded duck meat and a cheese that tasted like ricotta. Cooked to perfection, the ravioli is delightful. The sauce of mushroom and thyme compliments the ravioli and this is a lot of praise from me because I am not at all fond of thyme as a herb. This is a dish that I hope they continue to offer on their regular menu once the festival is over. Rajveer Kaur, the communications manager informed me that some of the dishes will continue to make an appearance at the restaurant. Based on the popularity during the festival and otherwise, their menus are constantly changing.

The Angel hair pasta with mushroom was the vegetarian option and is a very homely pasta preparation with no frills. This is something perhaps an Italian mother would put together on a day that the family craves comfort food. Honestly, while it was a well made pasta, the contrast with the ravioli was such that I accept I was biased.

Bhetki with Chilli Crust and Pecorino

Bhetki with Chilli Crust and Pecorino

For the main course, we were served the Bekti with chilli crust and pecorino. Pecorino is a salty hard cheese that is made using sheep’s milk. It is usually used to finish off pasta or salad dishes or served with fruit like pear at the end of a meal. In this case, the cheese was used with chilli, to form the crust for the fish. Pairing an Italian cheese with a locally available Indian Betki was excellent. The flavour of the betki melded well with the salty crusty covering. Served on a bed of beetroot puree with micro greens, this makes for a pretty main course and a filling one too.

Asparagus Tart

Asparagus Tart

For vegetarians, the Asparagus Tart with Fonduta, olive and caper dressing is an indulgence. The crust of the tart is crisp. The cheese fonduta (fondue) is a mix of two or three cheeses which compliment each other in texture and flavour.  It is dense, intense and very rich. The chopped asparagus retains its crunch and the whole tart is baked, which gives it spots of golden brown molten cheese. It everything that makes you forget your diet. Served garnished with parmesan chips and fried basil, this is a tart made with love. I love savoury tarts, but they are usually filled with a sort of custard. This is pure cheese. And was my pick of the evening.

Classic Tiramisu

Classic Tiramisu

We rounded up the meal with the classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu and a Chilli flavoured raspberry sorbet. I am quite critical of Tiramisu, having made it from scratch and therefore I retain a snob value. This one comes out with ace points. The Savoiardi biscuit crisp and light, the mascarpone cream light and yet sweetened just adequately. The layers and flavours melding so beautifully. There was silence at the table as I polished this off.

Chilli flavoured Raspberry sorbet (of which I do not have a clear photograph) however was my delightful discovery of the day. Tangy tart raspberry with just the right amount of sweet and an extremely subtle aftertaste of chilli coming through. If you want to try a light dessert, this is a must have.

Service was uncharacteristically slow on the day I dined (sunday) and I put it down to the weekend, because the staff and service at Tuscany on the other occasions that I have dined there have always been crisp.

“Regions of Festivals” at Tuscany, the Italian speciality restaurant at Trident Hyderabad

Recommendations: Pumpkin Soup, Duck Ravioli, Asparagus Tart with Fonduta, Raspberry Sorbet (the Tiramisu is fabulous, but give the raspberry sorbet a chance)

Price: Approximately Rs. 3000 for a meal for two (The price approximation is for one each of appetizer, pasta, main course and dessert shared by two, excluding alcohol)

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Hitech City, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

Disclaimer: I was invited by the hotel to dine at the restaurant and the food was complimentary. However the opinions on the food and service are my own.



{Eating Out ~ Review} Bengali Food Festival, Kanak, Trident Hyderabad

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Yet again I found myself seated at a dinner table with a few others at Trident, Hyderabad. Recently I got asked if I was associated with the hotel. My answer was no and yes. No, I am not employed by them or receive any payment in return for my review. Yes, I get invited to sample their food too.

When someone is invited to eat – to a home, a hotel or anything else, they know the guest is expected. During a review, I make it very clear that what I write is my own experience and the words and language is non negotiable, since you expect the guest, please do all that you can to ensure the food and the experience is what you would like it to be.

With that out of the way, let me tell you about the food I had. Bengali food and I don’t really have much of a history. I have heard of the food and its glorious description and tales of its origin much more than I have eaten it. The few times I have eaten Bengali food is at a restaurant in Hyderabad (I loved the food and the ambiance), at a home (disliked most of it and put it down to being badly made) and in Calcutta where I fell in love with the street food and was on a rinse and repeat mode for the duration of my stay, developing sincere feelings of love for the katti roll-wala and the phuchka-wala I frequented on Park Street.

We start with an array of appetizers. Fish Kabiraji ~ river salmon flakes, seasoned and breaded and then dipped in beaten egg to give it a lacy egg net. The flavour of the fish is full and unhampered by the spices or the breading. This one is worth a repeat and I loved each bite of this cutlet.

The little orange tail of the Chingri Macher Chop was a giveaway that it was a prawn dish. What I didn’t expect was the potato masala that it was wrapped in before being batter fried. This was the first time I tasted a prawn item made this way and while there are prawn pakodas and appetizers galore, who would have thought that potato masala would lend itself so beautifully to a prawn. The surprise element does not take away from the succulent prawn.

The Chicken Cutlet was disappointing. Dense and a little tough, I didn’t get through more than a few customary bites of it, served with kasundi (mustard paste) and a home made tomato sauce.

Vegetarians appetizers were served next, and the humble beetroot really surprised me. Beet and Gajur Chop was a croquette (cutlet if you insist) and the flavour of beets was fresh. Beetroots are not easy to work with. They can either be overpowering or completely tasteless depending on how they are cooked. I loved this preparation, seasoned just enough to allow the flavour of the beets to shine through.

The Mochar Chop which was the banana flower cutlet was good too. Banana flower is a much loved delicacy among Bengalis and this use in a cutlet is apt for a special occasion considering that cleaning of a banana flower is quite tiresome.

I lingered over the Fish Kabiraji and the Beet and Gajur Chop and considered seconds, then decided to leave some space for the main course that was to follow.

The names from the main course were familiar, one has heard unendingly of dishes that now have cult status. I was excited to taste a good Kosha Mangsho ~ Bengali home style mutton curry. The gravy was densely brown, the aroma very characteristic of golden browned onions. The first taste of it was of deep flavours and the traces of it being slow cooked. However the meat was dense, tough and inedible. I tried the couple of pieces on my plate I realised I was terribly disappointed with its texture. I expected the meat to be succulent and falling off the bone. The gravy still remains delicious. Possibly an off day for the meat, I would definitely try this dish again to decide if the meat is supposed to taste like that or it was just an off occurrence.

The Doi Murgi, made in the same style as the Doi Maach is a curry cooked in a gravy of onion paste, garam masala and yogurt. Chicken was chosen over the usual fish because it is a more neutral meat and appeals to a larger audience. This is going to be a crowd favourite and is very reminiscent of the kormas that are prepared in Indian cuisine. Each bite flavoured well and at several layers. This goes well with steamed rice.

Bhetki Macher Paturi ~ Fish marinated with poppy seeds and masala paste, steamed in a banana leaf. The flavours of the masala well incorporated into the fish fillet and steamed just right, this dish delivered on its promise and it is easy to see why it is so well loved. The novelty of presentation, unwrapping the banana leaf parcels at the table and the faint flavour the leaf renders the fish is all a nice bonus.

For the vegetarian selection, there was the Dhokar Dalna ~ channa dal koftas, soaked in a gravy. The onion and tomato gravy was nice, but the koftas themselves were chewy. I am not a big fan of channa dal anyway. So I would not miss this if it was not served.

Panch Mishali Shukto ~ a mixed vegetable curry cooked in a mustard paste dominated gravy is surprisingly good. The use of sweet potatoes, raw banana and bitter gourd is a surprising choice for mixed vegetables (one is used to potato, carrot and beans!), despite the use of the strong flavoured mustard paste, the gravy is very subtle and delicate.

My pick from the vegetarian main course has to be the Aloo Jhinge Posto ~ ridge gourd and potatoes cooked in a poppy seeds paste with nigella seeds. The sweetness of the ridgegourd (really did not see this coming!) and velvetty texture of the poppy seeds paste was terrific. This is a home style preparation and the subtle texture and flavours are soothing and comforting. I tend to be partial to dishes which present more than one texture and flavour. The multiple layers as you eat the dish always delight me as I keep guessing the ingredients or the way they were cooked and how that particular ingredient or cooking process rendered itself to the final dish. I find uni-dimensional dishes boring. And really, who expects ridge gourd to surprise you? Not me atleast!

Cholar Dal Narkel Diye ~ Channa dal cooked with fresh coconut and sugar and asafetida. Like I previously mentioned, I am not a fan of channa dal, having said that, the flavour and sweetness of the fresh coconut is really the star of this dish. I know my dinner partner enjoyed this. The tempering made from ghee brought in specially from Kolkotta adds a nice angle to this dish.

Of the breads that were served, something I cannot wrap my head around is the hype over the Luchi, for a poori made out of maida, it sure gets a lot of mileage. The Radhaballavi on the other hand, like a soft kachori, is a luchi stuffed with urad dal, fennel (saunf) and asafetida is a superior option for a bread. The flavours and the stuffing so subtle, it again surprised me when I was least expecting it.

What can one say of a Biryani that delighted me despite my loyalties lying with the land of my birth? The rage over the right / correct/ original biryani rages on and while my sibling believes that there is only one true biryani, the one he makes, following the recipe of a Master chef from an illustrious Hyderabadi family, I am of the opinion that there is no holy grail and as long as a dish is true to its ingredients and brings out the flavours, I am agnostic to its name. Needless to say he scoffs at me and I don’t take him too seriously! I must say when I did eat in Kolkotta, at a place highly recommended by the locals, I gagged and found the biryani oily and unpalatable. Forget flavours or seasoning, I felt like an oil slick was in my mouth. I just put it down to an overhyped eatery and left it at that.

Kolkotta Lamb Biryani ~ made in the Lucknow style, was a flavour bomb in my mouth. The kewra hits a sweet spot, the spice so subtle that what you actually taste are the flavours and not the heat and the meat so succulent, you wonder why you ate anything else at the meal! I loved this biryani and I must compliment the Chef who oversaw its preparation. Chef Sandip Bhattacharjee who traces his lineage from Bangladesh and learnt the nuances of Bengali cooking from his grandmother and mother, is the name behind this well put together menu. Cooking for more than 13 years in commercial kitchens, he finds the process therapeutic. The food for the festival is drawn from three broad categories ~ Mushalmanderi Aahar (Food with Islamic influences), Jamindar Khabar (recipes from the zamindari households of Bengal) and Grameen Aahar (peasant food). His culinary journey includes conducting several Bengali food festivals and the attention to detail is evident. He stopped by for a chat, but unfortunately, I was so busy eating, I didn’t take his picture!

The love of their sweets is legendary about Bengalis and while I don’t care much for the celebrated Sandesh, I love their jaggery flavoured offerings. As a child, I would have to be peeled off the glass panes of sweet shops by my mother because I would want one of each of the attractively coloured bengali sweets which were versions of the cham cham, stuffed with coloured cream and nuts and raisins.

I tasted a trio of desserts. Mishti Doi ~ sweetened yogurt which is dense and almost like eating dulce de leche. The milk is cooked down till the colour is deep. Served chilled, this is as classic a bengali dessert as one can get.

The Komola Bhog ~ Orange flavoured rosogulla was nothing novel but for the flavouring and while I don’t care much for the rosogulla, I love its cousin the cham cham.

Nolen Gurer Ice cream ~ jaggery flavoured icecream to me was the show stopper. Rich and creamy and the deep flavour that only jaggery can give a dish, this one was to die for. The freshness of the home made ice-cream is evident. I had an emergency call back from home and had to leave before I finished my dessert.

Overall, a delightful meal. The Bengali Food Festival at Kanak, the main restaurant at Trident Hyderabad ends today. If you want to savour Benagli food that is lovingly made, do not miss this one. Various personal upheavals which most personal contacts already know have prevented me from posting this review even though I should have done it a few days ago.


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