MG Road On Invitation

India. By Oberoi

Thursday, August 13, 2015Me! In words

If there is one way we love to celebrate things in India, its with food! We honestly don't need a reason to congregate in the kitchen, get something going and share a meal. The fact that our country has such a vast repertoire of cuisines and foods, that quite literally change styles every 100km or so, adds to the bounty that can come to our tables. 

What better way to celebrate our 68th Independence Day than pay a month long tribute to our culinary heritage. India. By Oberoi is doing just that. For the duration of this month, the dinner buffet at Le Jardin will have a week each dedicated to various cuisines of our great nation. Week one was a showcase of food from Punjab, Rajasthan and Kashmir. Currently on from August 10th to 16th is food from Kerala, Coastal Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Visit between the 17th and 22nd and you will get a taste of Goa, Gujarat and the Konkan region. And from the 23rd to the 21st, and the reason I would love to go back, is the food of Bengal, Assam and Orissa. 

I was invited to sample some of the dishes that will be served across the weeks. Let me just say that it was an afternoon well spent. 

Since I was the last to arrive, my blogger friend and our host for the afternoon took the liberty of ordering drinks for us. To the left is the Earl Grey Martini, to the right a gin concoction and behind, with the massive sprig of celery is a spiced Bloody Mary. Naturally the sips came out of each of the drinks and I liked them all, especially the Bloody Mary, since I am partial to spicy drinks. Only my heart sank a bit to see such a lovely sprig of celery simply be taken away on a plate. Maybe a smaller sprig could have better impact visually and prevent wastage. 

Our starter platter was representative of North India - Beginning at the corner right is the Lamb Sheek from Kashmir, the white Chicken Reshmi Kebab, the Amritsari Fish, Bharwan Paneer, the Tandoori Cauliflower and the Gujar Vada next to the chutney. What stood out prominently for me was the Chicken Reshmi Kebab and I just couldn't put my finger on that one ingredient that was giving it that special touch. Till Chef Nimisha let the cat out of the bag - a small hint of cheese just before it went into the tandoor made that delicious difference. Next in line was the Amritsari fish, with its crunchy batter coating and its moist flakes of fish on the inside was a delight. The Lamb Sheekh too was a really lovely addition to the platter.  

Main course featured a small bit of something from each week and was served to us as a thali. So let's take it from the left - Fish Puttu, Gobi Musallam, Avial from Kerala, Thovial Sorakka from Tamil Nadu, Fish Tenga from Assam, Kosha Mangsho from Bengal and Suwar ke Saonth from Rajasthan. 

There was also the Andhra Biryani with Baigan Salan (which you see below)

The steamed rice that accompanied the little katories on the platter and the Baingan Salan

All of the dishes were truly great, being very representative of the region they are from. But here are the dishes that I really enjoyed, capital R and capital E! The first was the Fish Puttu - traditionally made with Shark in Kerala, Chef Nimisha told us that her version is made of Grouper. It comes together very beautifully, with just the right balance of fish and coconut. Its full of flavor but really light on the palate. 

Fish Puttu

And then there was the Suwar Ke Saonth from Rajasthan. As with many misconceptions regarding food and communities - Rajasthan does have a strong non-vegetarian legacy, especially with game meat. The Suwar Ke Saonth is usually made with wild boar. In this case, we were served pork made the same way. Safe to say that this was the bowl I dipped into the most. It was also the one I wanted to spirit away home. It was also the bowl, I thought of longingly later in the evening as I recalled its taste and thought how great it would go with beer. Believe you me, this is a dish you want to try. 

Suwar Ke Saonth

And if you don't like bottle gourd, then this dish is something you ought to try - the Thovial Sorakka of Tamil Nadu. The bottle gourd is finely chopped and dished up in this classic manner. Unless someone, tells you it is the dreaded Lauki, you will not be able to tell at all. And it is an absolute delicious rendition of the vegetable.

Thovial Sorakka

And if you happen to go in the last week of this showcase, be sure to serve yourself large helpings of the Assamese Fish Tenga. A light tomato and onion gravy, spiced with green chillies, this dish is delightfully tangy and once I was stuffed with enjoying it with the rice, I began to eat spoonfuls of it till I was done. Goes really well with the steamed rice.

Assamese Fish Tenga

The dessert platter was also representative of the North - and so we had a Gulab Jamun soaked in Basundi, Paan Ice cream, Ghevar and Balushahi. The Ghevar emerged winner for me, followed closely by the Gulab Jamun. 

So there you have it - India. By Oberoi, a delicious showcase of the culinary splendor that defines our country. These dishes will be available on the dinner buffet and is priced at Rs 1475+ taxes per person. 

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