Ish, the in-house restaurant at The Park hotel in the city, has been transformed into the royal kitchen of Sailana for the next few days. Reason being, The Park is hosting a food festival to revive the forgotten dishes from the region of Sailana.
The incumbent King of Sailana, Maharaja Vikram Singh himself is touring along with his team of chefs headed by Chef Sharad Dewan of The Park Hotels. This food festival will offer people a dining experience that dates back three generations, weaving in some secret recipes laced with exotic spices, rose petals and sandalwood powder.
Vikram Singh says, “Our cuisine reflects inspiration from varied cultures and is an amalgamation of exotic ingredients. With this food festival, we aim to revive these recipes and open up a window for the food lovers to look into the Sailana cuisine.”
The royal culinary journey
The Sailana culinary tour has for the Hyderabadi palate a confluence of basic spices and the essence of meat. The starters have in their menu a prawn kebab Sailana and jungli maans. Barbequed on a skewer and covered in crisp batter, the prawns are also accompanied with a slighlty spiced tangy tomato chutney that balances out the dish. Cooked just right, the prawns are crunchy yet give a bite-full of meat.
The jungli maans is cooked following recipes from the decades before.
Cooked simply in ghee, chilli and a few spices, the jungli maans came about when people chose to cook in the jungle while hunting, hence the meager ingredients.
The main course includes a baked fish (Macchi Dampukht), a Kashmiri kebab (Tabak Murgh), mince lamb (Kofta Sudarshan), Murgh Irani biryani and Kaleji ka raita (smoked youghurt with slivers of liver) among other things.
With the taste varying from bland to a strong flavour of basic spices including mustard, the dishes give us a glimpse into the royal gourmet of Sailana.
To the credit of the chefs, the meats are well done, especially the minced lamb kofta.
However, if one expects a typical spicy peppered with masala flavour, then you may be a little disappointed.
While the above was for the non-vegetarian eater, there are a host of dishes for the vegetarians as well. The starters consist of Paneer Ka Soola and Harey Chaney Ke Kebab. The taste of the kebab is enhanced with a creamy sauce that it is served with. The paneer, on the other hand, is tangy, and tastes quite like a regular paneer tikka. In the main course, the menu consists of Dahi Baingan Shirazi, Paneer Methi, Makki ke Dane (Malwa style), Aloo ka Rajai Salan, Dal Sailana, which are served with a variety of breads, like Makki ki roti and Bajrey ki roti.
The Makki ke Dane, which is a rustic Malwa preparation of corn with yoghurt and gram flour is a must-try from the vegetarian menu. Dal Sailana, which is a signature dal of Sailana is simple and tastes good. Some of the curries, however, are served with a little extra oil, which dominates the flavours of the spices used.
Vegetarians can also dig into Kathal ki Birynani, which is raw jackfruit cooked with basmati rice.
The jackfruit makes an interesting replacement to the regular vegetables in a subzi biryani and the flavours are really subtle. It is served with Sooran ka raitha.
After a royal gastronomic journey, make sure some space is saved for the royal desserts as well.
It consists of an interesting Desi gulab ki kheer flavoured with cooked rose petals. Light to eat despite being stirred to a saucy thickness and topped with a chocolate stick, the kheer is a popular choice.
You can also enjoy some crunchy Harey Chaney ka Halwa, which can be a pick for the ones who like their dessert on a slightly lesser sugar level. The food festival will be on till March 3 at The Park hotel.