One of the dishes at Kangan. The new menu at Kangan is worth checking out!
Mumbai, here’s a chef who goes all out to create remarkable Awadhi delicacies with a great deal of focus on the authenticity. In the maximum city of fusion foods and molecular gastronomy fast replacing traditional foods, here’s a chef who is doing his bit to preserve our culinary heritage. Chef Mohamed Danish is friendly, well-informed and approachable. He takes pleasure to showcase Awadhi food at its best. Kangan’s new Chef De Cuisine, Chef Mohamed Danish, carries on the restaurant’s philosophy of serving the best of traditional food with passion. He has his culinary experience of over a decade, having worked at some of the well-known kitchens in the country, including the original Tunday Kababi in Lucknow, where he learnt some of the closely guarded Awadhi recipe secrets. Chef Danish uses the traditional Silbatta to make most of his spice blends and all, apart from the fact that all the assorted spices are procured from distant places so that the best of flavours reaches the refined Indian palate. His signature dishes include Kormey ki Chaap, Murgh Rezala Kofta, Martaban ka Lahori Gosht, Tulsi wali Pomfret and Papad Sev ka Paratha.
We had a wonderful time tasting the dishes made by Chef Danish (in black). Picture credit: The Westin Mumbai Garden City.
Chef Danish hails from Lucknow. According to him, “Awadhi khana aisa hai ki jisme honge toh saare masaale, par dikhega kuch bhi nahi.” His spice blends are unique. For example, have a look at this kebab masala, which is used sparingly as a garnish over kebabs. No, it doesn’t have coriander leaves or mint.
One of the spice blends for kebabs.
He began his career in 2007 at a coffee shop in Chennai. He worked in several hotels in Mumbai, Jaipur and Saudi Arabia as a Junior Sous Chef, Sous Chef and finally as Head Chef in their Specialty Indian Restaurants. Before joining Westin, he has worked at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International Jaipur, Taj Fort Aguada Resort and Spa Goa, Taj Lands’ End Mumbai and Taj Jai Mahal Palace Jaipur.
Regulars at Kangan appreciate the Dal Kangan always, the recipe of which is a constant since the past five years. That’s the reason that you get the same flavour each time you taste this dal here. Apart from the Dal Kangan and a few other dishes like Kakori Kebab and Nalli Nihari, 95% of the menu items are new. Here’s a brand-new Awadhi menu that gives you the finest flavours from a traditional Lucknowi Dastarkhwaan.
It is the process of slow-cooking or dum which leads to such a texture with well-rounded flavours. Awadhi cuisine is meant to be light and is cooked with less oil and spices. But the real soul of the dishes is the technique of cooking as well as certain special signature spice blends that make Awadhi dishes legendary. Delicate flavours in a true Awadhi dish is what sets it apart from most cuisines!
What we ate at Kangan was absolute ecstasy. Each dish was music to the tastebuds. There wasn’t even one dish that was over- or under-seasoned. The dishes were very balanced in spices and each tasted different.
Zaffrani Murgh Shorba.
At Kangan, the Zaffrani Murgh Shorba felt like fine silk. The chicken soup or Shorba was redolent of flavours emanating from bones that had been simmering for quite a while, with gentle notes of cinnamon, cardamom and saffron playing harmonically with each other. I could feel super-thin slivers of caramelised onions and tiny bits of chicken on my tongue.
Jheenga Lehsooni at Kangan.
The Jheenga Lehsooni was a crowd-pleaser, with prominent notes of roast garlic infused into the plump prawns. The aroma of freshly ground spices in those prawns, along with garlic, multiplied manifolds when cooked in clay oven.
The Doodhiya Awadhi Kebab.
The Doodhiya Awadhi Kebab was exceptional. This vegetarian kebab is an alluring signature dish by Chef Danish. Mildly spiced cottage-cheese discs filled with spiced prunes and dried nuts were full of different textures. Each bite was soft, with loads of flavour.
And did I mention yet about the refreshing Lemongrass Shikanji that went perfectly well with all these dishes? It was such a thirst-buster!
The foodgasmic Kakori Kebab was a delight! Tender lamb skewers flavored with mélange of Indian spices. It was the height of the culinary experience at Kangan on that day.
Firdausi Bharwaan Aloo.
The Firdausi Bharwan Aloo was very innovative. It was a superb dish using potato as the main ingredient. Boiled potatoes were scooped out first. The outside part was crusted with toasted white sesame seeds. The filling was that of cottage cheese, crisp potato trimmings and coarsely ground nuts. The whole thing was cooked in clay oven, leading to a moist smoky flavour.
Murgh Jahangiri Raan.
For chicken-lovers, Murgh Jahangiri Raan will certainly do justice. Chicken legs filled with cheese, chillies and crushed Indian spices, were cooked perfectly till the centre. The filling as well as the meat were tasty and succulent. Condiments like green chutney or better still, their yum Mango-yogurt, will pair perfectly!
Martabaan ka Lahori Gosht.
The Martabaan Ka Lahori Gosht was inspired from an old recipe. Marinated in an assortment of finely ground Lahori spices and traditionally served in earthen pots, the dish with chunks of tender lamb in a delicious gravy was perfect with Indian breads. We had this with the Indian flatbread called Papad Sev ka Paratha, which was unique. It had a stuffing of Sev and Papad… something that I never tasted before.
I loved the outstanding Murgh Begmati, which is a Colonial recipe by a lady in the bygone era. As Chef Rahul Dhavale interpreted, Begmati probably means Begum + Shrimati = Beghmati. Like this dish, each dish at Kangan has a story of its own. Murgh Begmati was a satisfying curry of chicken, slightly sweet and spiced with cinnamon, simmered in onion-tomato gravy for that rich colour! With Naan or even Multigrain Roti, this dish is a perfect definition of happiness on a plate.
Nalli Nihari at Kangan.
The most satisfying dish? According to me, it is the Nalli Nihari. A mildly spiced, cleverly balanced stew of lamb shanks simmered in a marrow gravy cooked on dum, this was so comforting and light. More than the meat, which was fall-off-the-bone, the broth was wonderful and tasted of marrow!
Missing a good Gucchi Pulao is a sin. Gucchi is one of my favourite ingredients in an Indian menu. At Kangan, Kashmiri morels were stuffed and cooked into a pulao with fragrant Basmati rice with aromatic spices. The resultant pulao was very light, yet so good!
Shahi Tukda at Kangan.
You must try the Shahi Tukda here. Not made with normal bread, but a special sweetened bread with saffron in it, this dish is cooked in reduced milk flavoured with saffron and cardamoms. Garnished with generous amounts of pistachios and saffron, this will make any foodie contented!
Do try out the new menu at Kangan, The Westin Mumbai Garden City. Let me know which dish did you like the most. Happy eating!