This monsoon, it is raining sultry kebabs at The Westin Mumbai Garden City. The Jashn-e-Kebab festival at Kangan, Westin, brings you an assortment of succulent vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs, suiting the season. Executive Chef Ajay Chopra and Chef de Cuisine Shamsher Ahmed have laid down a series of succulent kebabs for you, as the monsoon downpour makes you crave for something more robust than just chai and pakoras. These comforting kebabs, each with a careful blend of spices, are truly flavourful. Among the pillars of wellness that they follow, Westin strongly believes that for wellness, one should “eat well” too. So these morsels are not overboard with spices and use very less oil or ghee. The aroma of grilled meat, seafood and veggies, curling up from Kangan’s grill is itself enough to set your stomach growling for these, as you wait for the food and enjoy the beautiful view from the huge glass wall overlooking the city.
Be it the soft light coming from these special lamps, with “Westin” inscribed over these, or the colourful glassware, everything is so relaxing about Kangan. The space is huge, and the interactive show kitchens and live clay oven or the Tandoor add an element of excitement to the restaurant.
In India, kebabs date back to around 1206–1506 AD. The word “kebab” means morsel of meat (originally lamb meat), although, a good number of vegetarian kebabs have become popular now. Kebabs, kababs or kabobs: whatever you call these morsels of deliciousness, these are one of the most sought-after Indian appetisers. There are so many kinds of kebabs itself, that even the most ardent foodie cannot claim that he has tasted all of them. The Nizams and Nawabs used to have their own signature kebabs, made by their experienced bawarchis, khansamas and royal chefs. Even today, seasoned chefs such as Ajay Chopra and Chef Shamsher constantly create magic with their expertise and experience.
Westin Mumbai’s unparalleled kebabs are made using only the best in-house spices and freshest ingredients. When we asked the extremely soft-spoken Chef Shamsher to show us the spices used at the Kangan, he came with a huge tray with different freshly ground spices. There were biryani masala and korma masala, among others. Believe me, just the smell of each of these masalas can make you hungry!
Made with well-balanced spice notes, these kebabs are flavourful and done to perfection. Aromatic and moist, the best thing for Kangan’s patrons is that none of the kebabs is extremely spicy, although each of these has a well-defined flavour, quite different from the other. It is incredible to see that how these amazing chefs create such wonderful dishes out of simple ingredients or masalas. Hats off!
Masterchef Ajay Chopra, though a celebrity, is very approachable and friendly. As he sat down with AN and me, and explained about kebabs and the festival, he reflected an ocean of culinary knowledge. He is always a pleasure to talk to! As he knew that we are Bengalis and prefer non-vegetarian, the Masterchef instructed his chefs to serve us the best of the non-vegetarian kebabs first, followed by the vegetarian ones. He also insisted that we taste their main course (do you know that their dal is to die for?) and definitely some “mishti” or sweets, as he knows that we Bengalis can’t do without these. As we started tasting the kebabs, Arohi Tambe (Marketing Communications Manager, Westin) joined us and we spent the rest of the evening chatting over the love of food.
The non-vegetarian kebabs were amazing! Give the usual Shammi kebab and Galouti kebab a break and try out their range of scrumptious kebabs straight out of the tandoor. The first kebab we tried was the Gosht Karak Seekh Kebab: pieces of traditional mutton seekh kebab crisp-fried and served with a green spicy chutney. Take a bite of pickled onions or traditional mango pickle as you move over to the Kalmi kalander (chicken): chicken drumsticks marinated and barbecued to perfection. I loved the kick of spices in this dish.
The prawn kebabs were outstanding. We enjoyed our plump Tandoori Jhinga Samarkand with sweet tamarind chutney rather than the green chutney. Perfectly smoky with wonderful flavours of roasted garam masala and anardana powder, along with hints of ginger and garlic, this was a beauty.
We munched on the roasted papads and gazed out of the glass wall. It had already started raining on a lazy Saturday evening and Mumbai looked beautiful! As we enjoyed the amazing view from Kangan, soon the next kebab arrived. And we loved the Murgh Shikanja. It was tender, boneless chicken smothered with a mixture of finely chopped green chillies and black pepper powder.
Oh, did you say, “Pet bhar gaya, magar dil nahi bhara.”? Want more kebabs? Try the Murgh Habiba Mirch Kebab (chicken) and Tandoori Khatti Methi Macchli (fish) too.
Although we are hardcore carnivores, we love greens and veggies. So we loved digging into the melt-in-the-mouth vegetarian kebabs. The Subz Chuninda Tikka and the Bhutta Kebab (watch out for the cute babycorn tail) were just great! The Lasson Lalmirch ka Paneer Tikka was delicious, with the lingering flavour of garlic in it. The big chunks of cottage cheese were soft and filling.
As the sun sets, the aroma in Kangan gets more and more intoxicating and the ambience gets magical. Even the smell of these kebabs will make you salivate. The spices and seasonings in these kebabs are so balanced that even after eating so many different kinds, we felt light, yet satisfied.
Other innovative vegetarian kebabs include Mutter aur Khoye ki Seekh (peas and milk kebab), Rajmah ki Shammi (made with kidney beans), Bhavnagari Chaney ki Mirch (stuffed chilli kebab), Saag aur Khumbh ki Seekh (made with leafy greens and mushrooms) and Kamal Kakdi ki Shami (made with lotus stems).
Although I was expecting more lamb-based kebabs, the entire kebab experience was extremely pleasing with delightful cocktails. All what I can say now is that with the scrumptious Jashn-e-Kebab fare at Kangan, our evening was fabulously spent with food musings and tasting great kebabs. Thanks to Afsha for inviting AN and me for such a delightful experience, and to Arohi, Chef Ajay Chopra and Chef Shamsher for their wonderful hospitality and great food!
Kangan, The Westin Mumbai Garden City
International Business Park, Oberoi Garden City
Goregaon East, Mumbai