Here’s a food festival that revives some of the forgotten recipes from Old Delhi lanes. The recipes cooked in old-style lodges or “Saraai” in Delhi are somehow getting lost as Delhi is opening up more and more to global cuisine. Much has been talked and filmed about the Delhi street food, but the Saraais in old Delhi served superb local food and followed some age-old techniques from various cultural influences in Delhi. The Dehlvi Food Festival in Hornbys Pavilion is a beautiful attempt to revive those unique dishes of Delhi. ITC Grand Central gets even more festive this Diwali with such a traditional Delhi-based (Dehlvi) spread that is served in the buffet. The Dehlvi Food Festival (started on 18th October) is for a very short time and concludes on 27th of October. Truly, good things don’t last forever. So, scroll down and have a look at some of the scrumptious dishes from the ITC menu.
We start with the welcome drink called Gulabi, which is simple, yet so refreshing! It is a medley of pomegranate, lime juice and rock salt, but I tell you, the drink is simply what you need to relax and open up your tastebuds to a delectable Dehlvi meal that follows later.
The plate of non-vegetarian starters served in the buffet comes to our table for tasting. We take a bite of the Talvi Macchi: succulent pieces of deep-fried fish that instantly reminds of Delhi. Then, we grab a bite of the Tikhi Matar ki Tikki, which is equally good. The Tikki is made with sweet peas and spices and is very filling. Last but not the least, the Dehlvi Gosht Shammi is a flavour bomb. The chef informs us that the meat has been minced in traditional Silbatta or the stone grinder: hence the texture is a bit prominent that the widely available Shammi kebabs everywhere.
The Main Course starts with Nalli Nihaari, which is quite different than the Awadhi Nalli Nihaari. This one is more like a mutton curry and is yellowish. Also, there are cuts other than Nalli that are served in the slightly gelatinous Nihaari. The chef clarifies that this is old-Delhi style of making Nihaaris.
The vegetarian dish called Paneer Lavang Latika is outstanding. I love this vegetarian version of “Pasinda,” where strips of paneer get a royal makeover and the dish is as festive as you can think of. We like it so much that we are thinking of heading to Hornby’s Pavilion soon just to taste this dish again! Paneer is stuffed, rolled and flavoured with cloves. This is then served with a delicately balanced gravy.
We try the Daal Makhni and love the slightly sour flavour in it. We mop it up with ghee-smeared Naans, thinking that this is the best Daal on Earth. But wait, the forgotten dish called Kunni Daal is even better!
Cooked with Bengal gram and black lentils on a slow flame with a few secret spices and a dash of garlic, the Kunni Daal is heaven. I get a feeling that the vegetarian dishes are very well executed: even better that the non-veg masterpieces.
Heard of Nimona Pulav? Not me either, till I taste yet another vegetarian dish where peas take centrestage. A pea pulav, right? Yes and no, as it is way better than the regular pea pulav. This is a recipe that I would love to treasure if I am lucky to possess so.
There are good vegetarian dishes like Doodh Kofta and Raajma Rasiley to try out. The Chicken Ishtew doesn’t impress me, as it is a very regular and familiar sight and taste.
However, I do like the Sarai Gosht Biryani, and what a light and flavourful lamb Biryani it is! Spices and essence being mellow and the lamb just perfectly cooked, I wonder if this is the signature dish of the Dehlvi Food Festival at Hornby’s Pavilion. Or is it Nimona Pulav? Or the Paneer Lavang Latika? It is difficult to judge and we don’t want to spend time thinking. So, let’s move on to the next.
The Dehlvi Food Festival’s desserts make us go weak in the knees. Foodgasm is this! We try the specially made Phirni that comes to our table from deep inside the kitchen. It is delicious… I almost lose count of how many spoonfuls of Phirni I have devoured. The other two desserts, Zuak e Shahi (a version of Gulab Jamun in Rabdi) and Moong Daal Halwa, are very well made, too!
This Diwali, gift your family and friends unique flavours of forgotten Dehlvi cuisine. The Dehlvi Food Festival culminates on 27th October. So, head towards Hornby’s Pavilion in ITC Grand Central for a superb food experience and a dazzling festive time. Happy Diwali to you all!