Every once in a while, a food festival comes along, that takes me back to my childhood. Of traditions now ended, due to the passing away of those uncles and aunts who held them dear. One such was the Sunday lunches held by my Kutchi half of the family. Kutch, being a part of the state of Gujarat meant the food overlapped.
So, when Firdaus, the Indian fine dining restaurant at the Taj Krishna Hotel held a Gujarati food festival, in association with Gujarat Tourism to celebrate the ongoing Navratri festival, I knew I was going to enjoy this one.
The starters included Patras [colocasia leaves, on which a spicy sweet gram flour paste is smeared, and the leaf rolled and steamed]; Petis Corn Tikki [Petis being the Gujju pronunciation of the word patties]; Handvo [a savoury, steamed cake made with lentils]; Methi na Muthia [gram flour and fenugreek leaves made into a dough with spices and steamed]; Dhoklas [steamed semolina dumplings] and above all, Khandvi [gram flour mixed with sour, spiced buttermilk, cooked, then smeared on to a thali and cut into rolls].
The Patra and Dhoklas were done to perfection, and the Khandvi, an absolute favourite of mine since childhood, I was happy to note, was delicious. These three starters were my pick of the lot and I could have made a meal of them alone. The Muthiyas, a very healthy snack were well done, but, along with the Petis, paled in comparison to the ones I have mentioned. The Handvo was a bit of a let-down as it was a tad too sticky and heavy on the palate.
The main course had traditional Gujarati fare with concoctions like Valor Muthia Nu Shaak [a curry made with broad beans and muthiyas], Undhiyu [mixed vegetables usually made in winter]; Sev Tamatar Nu Shaak [a tomato based curry with sev – fried gram flour crisps used in bhel puri]; Bharwa Ringna [stuffed brinjals], Gujarati Dal, Kadhi, Bardoli ki Khichdi, Khatta Meetha Bhat [sweet and salty rice], and Indian breads like Methi na Thepla and Bajra roti. Needless to say, some of the dishes were sweet, as Gujarati food does have sugar added to a few staples. While all of them were cooked well, under the expert guidance of Executive Chef Nitin Mathur, the quantities were huge, so one couldn’t do more than have a sampling of each of them.
The desserts were a quiet end to a lavish meal as the Dudh Pak [a milk and rice pudding]; Urmo [a sweet made from broken wheat or lapsi] and Mohanthal [a gram flour based barfi]. The Urmo, what we call Lapsi nu Seero was the best of the lot, sweetened just right and the grainy texture of the broken wheat intact.
The menu has the thali and a la carte options for lunch and dinner right till the end of the month. Be prepared to leave the place with a full stomach though.
Date: Till 30th September 2017
Firdaus, Taj Krishna