Street Foods of the World

Saturday, June 20, 2015Me! In words

Honestly I can't look beyond pani puri, aloo puri and pav bhaji (well actually more spicy bhaji than pav) when it comes to street food. But there are few times when its good to spread your wings and try the street food of the world. Especially when it comes to your city in style. The Raj Pavilion at ITC Windsor currently has Street Foods of the World Festival on till the end of the month. Each day, the dinner buffet will see some interesting additions in the form international street food specials. We were invited to sample the buffet for dinner and were treated to Malaysian, Canadian, Spanish and Italian specials for the day.

The great thing about the buffet is the fact that it does not go overboard in terms of dishes. Rather, the regular buffet is supplemented with these dishes, giving you the best of both worlds -  a great international spread for the buffet punctuated by delicious street food specials. Here is a look at what we had. 

We began with two thin crust pizzas from Italy - this one is the Mushroom, Artichoke and Cheese combination. What you see below is the Bacon and Caramelized Onion. The pizzas were perfectly thin crusted, the toppings delicately balanced in terms of proportion and flavour. The Bacon and Caramelized Onion version found special mention with Anoushka.  

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza

One of the reasons I love going to the Windsor is for Harsh Shenoy - he is constantly experimenting with the beverages here and never fails to impress. On the last visit to Dublin (which is coming up in a blog post soon), he concocted an amazing "healthy" drink if you may - fresh fruit pulp - passion fruit, and pomegranate, with vodka and it was amazing. This time around, his experiments came up with the paan shot, with vodka and gulkand! Now I honest to God don't like paan, but this one shot had a lovely subtle approach to the flavour, which balanced really well with the gulkhand in terms of bringing out that slightly sweet touch. At the back you see my other drink - a berry and vodka creation, which makes for a good drink to nurse through the meal. Maybe next time I will ask for a little less ice.

From Canada we were served the Poutine - This French-Canadian street food staple is basically French Fries served with a thick, brown meat sauce. Here it was topped off with some molten cheese. I believe in the original version it is topped off with some cottage cheese, which called cheese curd in those regions. Anyways, this had one great characteristic to it - its comfort food - french fries dunked in a meat sauce that had all the goodness of slow cooked meat in every ounce of it. Yes of course they made the fries a bit soggy, but that's the pleasure of it all.  

As we progressed to the mains - we were served the Roti Jala - a popular Malaysian net-like pancake came to the table with Sambal Prawns and a chicken gravy. The Sambal prawns packed a serious punch in terms of spice. The chicken was a delicate coconut based one. The trick is to dig into the roti jala as soon as it comes to the table to get the best out of it. 

The Pizza Station

We had quite a few versions of the Malaysian Ais Kachang served as dessert. So many vibrant colored toppings - from the classic palm sugar drizzle to jujubes, fruit syrups and more. Its quite a glassful to finish, but every mouthful gives you brain freezes of different textures and flavours. 

We also had the Spanish Leche Frita - a sweet fritter made of solidified milk. Honestly we mistook it for a banana fritter. But this made for a delicious dessert served with some berry compote and fresh fruits. A lovely light dessert to end the meal. 

While these were highlights of the international street food festival for the day, there are several other things to look forward to. On the night you choose to visit you may have a chance to indulge in the Mexican counter with its tacos and nachos, or a Middle Eastern Shawarma, Indonesian Nasi Goreng, New York Hot Dogs, American Burgers or even French Crepes. 

On the night we visited, the regular dinner buffet was a pleasure in itself - Anoushka indulged heartily in the cheese board. I wrapped up my meal with a hearty helping of the piping hot Minestrone soup. International guests made a beeline for the Indian food spread out and the continental spread had a lot to offer as well. We were also served some Indian starters - the khus khush kebab being a real stand out dish.

This festival is on till the end of the month, for dinner alone and is at a price of Rs 1800++ per person. 

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