Food events On Invitation

Grand Trunk Road Festival at Moevenpick

Monday, July 15, 2013Me! In words

A stretch of road that travels 2500 kms, covers three countries and cuts across seven states is nothing short of stupendous in terms of human feat. But if you want to try and outdo its magnificence, then just think of the number of cuisines, local and international that this stretch covers - the thought cannot really be comprehended! So that is why when Moevenpick sent out an invite to us bloggers for a chef's table to celebrate the bounty of GT Road, sheer curiosity had me say yes - after all the feat is unimaginable - how is one going to encapsulate, in a dinner buffet, the variety and authenticity that one would encounter at different destinations on Grand Trunk Road or GT as it is known.

The staff did have their work cut off for them - with Executive Chef Thomas Joseph at the helm and his staff who could handle a part of the cuisine, the restaurant was but at the half way mark. Chef Thomas managed to coax, cajole and finally convince a few home chefs from various regions on the GT Road stretch to come and try their hand at a commercial kitchen - so after giving them a feel of a big kitchen, a couple of trial runs, they were "finally convinced to get into uniform". 

The spread is massive ranging from Lucknow to Bengal, to UP, Bihar, Punjab, Pakistan and Kabul. And it was the small little things that elicited oohs and aahs at the table - like the sight of baingan bhaaja from Kolkata being fried on the spot, or the sudden arrival of a litti chokha at the table because someone reminisced loudly. Just as GT road stretches on, so does this buffet, so bring along your eating pants if you plan to do justice to it.   

Our table set for the evening

The chefs, in-house and newly in uniform

While the preparations for the festival were underway, the bar did not want to be left behind and actually came forward saying that they would like to contribute as well. Its a good thing they did and we had a chance to sip on some desi spins to familiar cocktails - On the table were the Imli Mojito, the Nariyal Vodka combo, the Kala Khatta martini and a another drink that had guava as the base with cointreau, vodka, black salt and some spice. With the Imli Mojito and Guava drink ruling the collection, these are a good combination to the meal.

The Guava concoction

The Imli Mojito, Nariyal-Vodka and the Kala Khatta martini

The buffet starts with a chaat counter which has every conceivable chaat you would like to have under the sun. If the matkas with the main course did not look so inviting, I am sure most of us would have finished our meal at this first counter - a few golgappas down, it was time for some kheema samosas and kebabs - The kheema samosas were nice and I paired them with the lal mirch adrak chutney, which I could not get enough of. Among the kebabs - I sampled one of each - the Ghutwa kebab from Pakistan, which has the meat ground to a paste like consistency along with all the spices and slicing. This is then crumb coated and fried. A very pasty center, but really nice. The Macchi ka Kebab from Bangladesh was pleasant too. In the vegetarian section, there was the Anjeer-Mawe ki Kebab which did not work for me at all - somehow it felt like a dessert in a savory coating. The other was the bhutte ki kebab which was really nice. 

Round one done, a few laps of the hotel (mentally of course) and I was ready for main course. 

The beautiful matka arrangement of the buffet and the range of chutneys 

The main courses can be had with a range of rotis which will be brought to your table and of course rice. In this Ramzan season, those hankering for haleem will be able to taste the Lucknowi version of the dish, which is quite different from the Hyderabad versions we are more used to. The dal and the meat have a grainy texture, is more yellowish than brown and does not really drown in 3 inches of ghee. While it tasted really nice, it did remind me of the Parsi Dhansak. The Mutton Do Pyaza from Delhi hit all the right notes - spicy, tender meat, chunky cuts of onion. The Murgh Kari from Pakistan, we were warned was very spicy - it didn't taste so in the first three bites, but as you go on, you soon realize the heat is building up - its delicious, but be warned. The Macher Jhol from Kolkata worked for me as well. I also heard that the Ghosht Dum Biryani from UP was great as was the Chooza Khas Makhani from Punjab, a version of butter chicken.

Haleem from Lucknow

Mutton Do Pyaza from Delhi

Chicken Kari of Pakistan

The vegetarians have nothing to worry about as there is a large stretch of the table dedicated to them. I started with the Aloo Wadiyan, which with its crispy, tangy, soft textures and taste sat with me very well. The Baingan Bhaaja from Kolkata too was nice and as suggested we had it rolled in a roti - that works well too. the Orai ki Torai from Punjab was a stir-fry version of the ridge gourd and was nice. There was of course paneer, teamed with a creamy methi gravy. And for those who care for it the Karela, which was really nice all declared - I am yet to be able to appreciate this vegetable though. There was also the Pindi Channa Masala from Punjab and the Nafasat ki Kofte from UP. Unfortunately, my stomach had waved the white flag by then. 

Orai ki Torai from UP

The single plate of Litti Chokha from Bihar that was customized for the table

The good thing about this buffet is that you can ask for dishes that you may want from this region. The kitchen is pretty much geared for any request and that is how we got our Litti Chokha. Desserts of course are an integral part of the menu and it started with the delectable sondesh from Kolkata. There is also phirni, which I liked and an absolutely stunning Kubani ka Meetha. Gulab Jamun and Gajar Halwa too make an appearance.

Sondesh from Kolkata


Kubaani ka Meetha

A cart from the region at the entrance

This festival does manage to do the impossible - capture the essence of the GT Road stretch. Its a buffet you should take your time with. Available for dinner, this is on till the 21st of June when it will culminate into the grand Sunday brunch. Its about the only time the whole of GT Road's offerings will be available at one place. It is currently available for dinner at Rs 1200 + taxes per person.

Address: Moevenpick Hotel and & Spa, Gokula Extension, HMT Road, Near BEL Circle , Bangalore 
Phone: 4300 1000 (board line)
Cuisine: Multi-cuisine, All day dining
Accepts Cards: Yes
Parking: Valet

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