Taj Banjara is hosting a Kashmiri Food Festival at its speciality alfresco restaurant Kebab-e-Bahar. Overlooking a private lake, it’s far removed from the experience of floating in a shikara on Dal Lake but the food is as close as it gets to the real thing.
Chef Tariq Ahamad Parry has descended from Vivanta by Taj Srinagar to share with Hyderabadis the authentic taste of wazwan cuisine, the origins of which can be traced right back to the royal kitchens of traditional Iran.
The flavours are extremely mild, with more emphasis on core ingredients rather than an overkill of spices. A case in point is the Tabak Maaz, a lamb rib appetizer shallow fried with Kashmiri spices. One has to really love lamb to appreciate the sinewy texture and fat that refused to separate from the bone. Or the Nadru malai tikkis, minced lotus stem mixed with delicate Kashmiri spices.
The main course of mutton rista and gustaba, pounded soft lamb dumplings the former in a gravy of spices and Kashmiri chilli, and the latter cooked with yoghurt and flavored with dry mint didn’t really meld the spices with the meat. I’ve had tastier versions of both before.
However, the vegetarian options salvaged the meal, especially the Kashmiri rajma, pulao with its saffron tempering and the dum aloo.
Saffron phirni for dessert was light and not overly sweet, but to me the Badam aur suji ka Halwa was ho-hum.
Considering the legacy of Chef Tariq who belongs to an illustrious family of wazas (descendants of the master chefs of Kashmiri aristocracy), and has worked under Master Wazas like Chef Farooq Ahmad Choncha and Chef Ghulam Rasool of Kashmir, I had high expectations but was quite disappointed by what I sampled.
Perhaps the chef was just having a bad day, we’ve all had kitchen disasters at some point of time haven’t we. But that shouldn’t stop you from going over and trying this unique centuries-old cuisine which is rare to taste in its authenticity in Hyderabad.
The festival is on till 30th November.
Location: Taj Banjara, Road No.1, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana 500034
Phone: 040 6666 9999