Exactly a month ago, I had visited Feast at Le Meridien and enjoyed the food there immensely, so when I heard they were hosting Jashn-e-Hyderabad, a Hyderabad Food Festival, I simply had to give it a try.
We were served a welcome drink; Gummadikaya Vadiyams, a drink made from Kokam. It was sweet and refreshing.
As the air conditioning was on full blast at the restaurant (not complaining, I love it) we chose to warm ourselves with soup. I opted for the Gosht Ka Marag, a delicious, piping hot lamb soup. It was the kind of soup that one just can’t get enough of. I’m guessing it was made from the right kind of fatty mutton and bones that give a soup its soul! Sigh! After a while, I also decided to try the Bhuna Bhutte ka Shorba. This was a thick, creamy, delicately flavoured soup. I love adding butter to creamy soups, hence added half a knob of butter to the soup to up its satiety quotient. I have to say, though, the soup was delicious even without the butter. It’s just my crazy Bawi genes that cannot resist butter. (sheepish grin)
The Starters at the buffet were Dakhani Paneer Tikka, Chatpati Bhindi, Kabuli Chana ki Tikki and Phudina Machhli Tikka. From a counter other than the Hyderabadi food, I also tried a tikka similar to chicken haryali tikka, chicken popcorn and a heart-shaped potato-veg tikki. All the starters were fantastic!
The chicken haryali tikka was soft and juicy. The Phudina Machhli Tikka, served with a wee bit of tamarind sauce and green chutney, was flaky and well-seasoned! The best part about the machhi (fish) tikka was that they used Betki fish instead of the more commonly served Basa. The Bhindi was truly ‘chatpata’ and the Kabuli Chana Tikki was crisp on the outside and soft within. Absolutely perfecto!
For the vegetarian mains the feast offered Tarkari Meloni, Bhagara Baingan (Aubergine), Mirch ka Salan, Paneer Tamatar ka Kut and Hyderabadi Subz Dum Biryani. I did not eat the baingan as I don’t enjoy the vegetable but I did try the gravy and it had a wonderful hint of mustard in it. Although, I’m not a big fan of mustard this did not overwhelm my taste buds and I found myself dipping a soft, layered Lachcha Paratha into this gravy over and over again.
The Tarkari Meloni was a dish of mixed vegetables: Green peas, French beans, Carrots and more. For all of you, who think this carnivore did not try the dish because it had so many vegetables, think again! :P I did try it and liked it too! This Methi leaf (Fenugreek) based dish was perfectly balanced in spices. I’m sure the vegetarians will love this one.
The Paneer Tatatar ka Kut was a wonderful, tangy tomato sauce with melt-in-the-mouth Malai Paneer chunks in it. I rarely find places that use such good quality Paneer. I’m sorry guys; I did not try the Hyderabadi Subz Dum Biryani. With Kachhe Gosht ki Biryani on the menu, I just couldn’t get myself to opt for the Vegetarian version.
The non-vegetarian section comprised of Machhli ka Salan, Dum ka Murg, Kheema Kaleji Fry and Kachhe Gosht ki Biryani. The Machhli ka Salan was a delectable Betki curry but, for me, what stole the show were, Kheema Kaleji, Dum ka Murg and the Kacche Gosht ki Biryani. The Kheema Kaleji Fry was superb! The pieces of kaleji (liver) in the Kheema lent a wonderful gamey flavour to the dish and it was beautifully cooked. My bestie, tentatively, tried a wee bit of the Kheema but being unable to handle offal, winced at every bite that I went ‘ummm’ at. (evil grin) The rich gravy of that Dum ka Murg was to die for! As for the Kachhe Gosht ki Biryani, the mutton was tender, the rice extremely flavourful and fragrant and together, they sang a soulful rendition on my palate. It had all the makings of a GREAT Biryani!
Our desserts for the evening were Qubani ka Meetha, Sheer Korma and Gil-e-Behisht. The Qubani ka Meetha was deliciously sweet and because they had used apricots from Turkey, the dessert had retained its wonderful deep colour.
The Sheer Korma was one of the best I have had in recent years with Seviya drenched in sweet milk and sprinkled generously with dry fruits. How can anyone not like that? Sigh!
The Gil-e-Behisht was a new dessert for me. It was a kheer made with lauki (bottle gourd), rice and dry fruits. It had the makings of a good dessert but somewhere, down the line someone had erroneously used burnt milk for the dessert and that whiff of burnt milk immediately hit my olfactory senses. I requested our server to call Chef Mark and with a cheeky grin I handed him a spoon and requested him to taste the kheer. He did! I asked him what he thought of it. His immediate reply was, ‘burnt milk’. We laughed and applauded him for passing our “acid test”. Jokes apart; what I appreciated most was the honesty with which he accepted the error. Also, not wanting to serve something sub-standard to his guests, he immediately ordered to have the dessert taken off the menu for the rest of the evening. The integrity of that action was commendable! As I always say, mistakes happen in the kitchen, but when dealt like this, with efficiency and honesty, such behaviour that makes me return to a restaurant again and again.
Let me clarify again: The Hyderabad Food Festival is available at the Indian food counter but the other food counters; Chinese, Continental, Salads, Breads & Cheese, Desserts were on as usual. We chose to restrict ourselves to the Hyderabadi Festival food for a change. We did try two three other things from the remaining counters and everything was delish. I have already reviewed that a few weeks back and thus am not commenting on any of those dishes again.
The Jashn-e-Hyderabad festival is on from July 9, 2016 to July 16, 2016. Please note: The festival is only on for their dinner buffet. Having spoken to the Chef for a few minutes, we were told they plan to change the menu every night. The buffet is priced at INR 1616/-, all inclusive. The ambiance, the food and the friendly service makes this dining experience such a pleasure! Two happy puppies trotted home at 02.30 AM with contented grins on their faces. :D
Address: Le Meridien, Next to Raja Bahadur Mills, Sangamwadi, Pune.
Tel: 020 26050505 / 020 66411111