India has a rich cultural heritage where food has played an important role. However, many recipes were lost over time due to various reasons. Chef Arun Sundararaj has toiled very hard to bring back some of these lost culinary treasures after a lot of research in the ongoing food festival at Varq in Taj Mahal hotel.
For the festival, the chef has recreated some of the royal dishes which have been enjoyed by the Dogras of Kashmir, Nizams of Hyderabad, Mewars of Rajasthan and the royal families of Travancore.
My gastronomical journey began with a duo of chicken and lamb – Tujji Chicken from the Mewar family and Lahabi Kebab from the Dogra family. The tujji chicken was marinated in spinach, green chilies and coriander and besan (to hold it all together). It had very subtle flavours brought alive by a dash of lime with a thick coating of the marinade covering it. The lahabi kebab was lamb mince cooked in the juices of the marinade and then stuffed with curd, onion and chilies and finally smoked. They were a true royal treat, melt in the mouth and needed no accompaniment.
Next is a 150 year old recipe from the royal kitchens of the Nizams – a lamb soup named Saadaaash. This soup is simmered for seven hours and tempered seven times. It was served with lukhmi which comprises of a baby lamb samosa and a quinoa of pulled lamb with soup poured on top. “The soup generates heat in the body so we were given only a small portion of it.
Just before the main course, a tart raw mango sorbet was served to cleanse the palate. Then came the Nawabi Murgh (chicken supreme roulade) served with nuts and sweet mango chutney. The crispy, caramelised onions on top took it to another level. This was truly a heavenly delight, or to put it more aptly, a royal treat.
I was really looking forward to my first non-veg khichdi Khichdirafat which had tender pieces of lamb, chicken and duck flavoured with spices and almonds. We were told that mostly game meat was used to make this in the olden days. I felt that the flavours from the meat were not incorporated in the khichdi. However, the Noori Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani more than made up. A four hundred year old delicacy comprising of succulent pieces of lamb and long grain rice cooked in a lamb stock. This was how biryani should be – each grain of rice separate and full of flavour.
We ended the meal with the Sweet tooth of the Maharaj (layers of garlic kheer and broken wheat porridge) from the royal kitchens of Mewar. The garlic is boiled separately and then used in the kheer. I must say that I was more than skeptical before taking my first bite because I was anticipating a sharp garlicky smell and taste but I quite enjoyed having it because there was no garlic flavor at all – till I bit into a whole garlic ! Not a very pleasant taste in a kheer.
Chef Rajesh Singh who is assisting Executive Chef Arun came and familiarized us with each dish being served. Do check out the royal delicacies as they will be served only till the 30th June.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 4500aprox. | Wheel Chair Friendly: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 12.30 am -2.30pm and 7.30pm- 11.30pm.
Address: Taj Mahal Hotel,1 Man Singh Road, New Delhi | Phone: 011-23026162, 011-66513151.
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.