How do you imagine the food from across the border to taste like? If you think Pakistani cuisine is any different from that of Indian, it isn't quite so.
Because the spices used in both Indian and Pakistani cooking are the same.
However, the flavours are quite distinct, despite the dishes being similar.
Playing host to this similar yet different gourmet is the Marriott Hyderabad.
Currently hosting a Pakistani food festival, Daawat-e- Pakistan at their in-house restaurant Bidri, the fest will give Hyderabadis a Pakistani culinary experience.
The idea struck Girish Krishnan, the executive chef at Hyderabad Marriott, when he was competing in Foodistan – a cookery show on NDTV Goodtimes.
Post the show, he approached his counterpart, chef Akhtar Rehaman from Pakistan and Daawat-e- Pakistan happened.
“Chef Girish completely loved the Pakistani food.
He noticed how prominent the flavours were and that’s when we thought the idea of organising a Pakistani food festival was conceived,” recalls Rehaman, who is currently camped in the Hyderabad Marriott kitchen.
The Pakistani meal at Bidri begins with a Dal Shorba and Nahari Shorba.
While the first sip of the dal shorba (lentil soup) may taste a little bland, as you keep eating, the flavour gets better and soothing.
On the starters menu, a host of vegetarian and nonvegetarian kebabs are served with a variety of dips.
The vegetarian appetizers include Lahori Paneer Tikka (served with a slice of pineapple), a must-try.
There's also the Baingan Kay Kebab and Mughlai Kebab among many others.
Non-vegetarian starters include the Kagzi Kebab (roasted chicken leg, chicken mince, crushed coriander and pounded chillies) and the Sulemani Kebab (stuffed minced lamb kebab, cooked in milk fudge and pistachio).
To the chef's credit, the kebabs are well-cooked and with the accompanying dips like anar (pomegranate) and imli chutney, the flavours of the appetizers simply get enhanced.
In the main course, vegetarian curries include regulars like paneer, aaloo and bhindi.
However, all of them taste good with distinct flavours and are light on the stomach because of the less use of oil.
Kehkashan, which is a mélange of fresh vegetables, tempered onion seed and tomatoes, and Paneer Karahi (pan grilled cottage cheese, tomato and karahi masala) are a must-try.
Non-vegetarian curries include Mutton Chop Masala, Karahi murg (braised chicken morsels, crushed peppercorn, green chili), Lahori Fried Fish (gram flour fried marral steak , crushed chilies and carom seed).
All the aforementioned dishes are served with exclusive Pakistani breads like Kandahari Roti, Shahi Naan and Taftan.
Even a Pakistani meal seems incomplete without Biryani.
You can make a pick from Navarattan Biryani, Murg Sindhi Biryani (traditional sindh chicken biryani with plums and baby potatoes) or Gosht Karachi Biryani.
The biryani will be a treat for those who like subtle flavours in their food.
After having an elaborate meal, usually there is no space for dessert.
But, this is not bound to happen with Pakistani food.
The dessert menu boasts of Gajar Ki Kheer, Roo Ki Kheer (Basmati rice cooked with sugarcane juice and milk), Besan Ka Halwa (gram flour cooked in clarified butter and sugar) and a Pakistani traditional Matanjan (sweetened rice cooked with dry fruit, nuts and scented with saffron).
Again, the desserts are subtly flavoured and are not too sweet.
“Eating food should not become a liability.
And Pakistanis don’t prefer their desserts to be very sweet,” explains chef Rehaman before laying his apron down.
Daawat-e-Pakistan will be served a-la carte till February 29 at Bidri, The Marriott Hyderabad.