Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Bangalore's Legendary Past - 'The Cuisine of the Navaithas'

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It's raining back to back festivals in Bangalore. Food festivals or cocktail festivals a lot is happening on the Bangalore food and beverage scene. ITC Gardenia, under the aegis of Kitchens of India … brought about an experience of the rare culinary jewels from Bangalore’s legendary past 'The Cuisine of Navaithas'. A festival run at The Cubbon Pavilion between 24th July to 2nd August was ITC Gardenia's ode to the age old cuisine rich in its roots.

Navaitha Cuisine has a rich historical background dating back beyond the times of Tipu Sultan. However; it was since the times of Tipu Sultan, the Navaitha Muslims have formed an integral part of Bangalore’s living fabric. Originally brought to fill the barracks of the British army in the war against Tipu Sultan, the Navaitha Muslims are the Urdu speaking community from Gingee. Nestled in the heart of Bangalore, they chose to stay back in Shivaji Nagar, bringing with them their unique cuisine. Now you surely know what I am speaking about. :)

Like every other food festival, the Indian section this time was dedicated to the legendary cuisine of the Navaithas. Famous for mouth-watering and tantalizing preparations like sheek rolls, grilled chicken, grilled raan, pathar gosht, paya and more were reasons enough for me to head back to Cubbon Pavilion.

My focus was clearly on the non-vegetarian part of the cuisine. Being a rotational menu on the buffet, my evening saw starters like the classic chicken kababs being dished out. When I say classic chicken kababs, you know I mean the Bangalore famed kababs that you find at numerous food hangouts across the city. These were nice and succulent; perfectly seasoned and coated; and fried perfectly to offer the crunch. It is comfort food and I could not help resist myself from multiple helpings. 

There was also the brain fry which I really looked forward too. However, the lack of enough spices and marinade failed to excite my taste buds. I missed the punch that usually pepper and curry leaves can bring out in this dish. The tala machi was a very simple batter fried fish that was well cooked and nice to taste but had nothing to rave about. 
Brain Fry
Tala Macchi

There was one vegetarian starter that I really liked and that was 'Zimikand (Yam) ke kabab'. Melt in mouth and laden in ghee, this preparation showcased the connection between the Navaithas and the nawabs.

Overall, the starters was a mix bag and I really looked forward to that first dish that I really get raving about. The wait was short lived for what arrived next was the 'Paya Khamiri'. Delicate, rich, flavorful, succulent, melt-in-mouth are adjectives not enough to do justice to this dish. I enjoyed every morsel and spoon of this preparation. 

Now I really did look forward to the mains, there was a good spread of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. My focus mostly on the non-vegetarian section, Of this, I really enjoyed the Seena Gosht which was mutton in a wonderfully spiced gravy. A perfect accompaniment for this dish were the light and airy butter naan or steamed rice.

A chicken dish that I loved in the mains was 'Dum ki Tangdi' - Chicken simmered in a really rich and creamy gravy. The chicken was melt in mouth and did soak in all the flavors of the gravy. I enjoyed this dish all by itself and did not need any accompaniment to go along.

There was more, the Soya Lauki was a hit among the rest on the table but for me it didn't work its magic. The Tamatar ka dacha was an example of simplicity at its best. Palak in the palak prawns was really nice but the prawns were a tad bit dry or overcooked for my liking. The Sukka Macchi was a nice and simple preparation of seer fish and made for a good eat with the other mains on offer.
Palak Prawns

For me the highlight of the day was the 'Gosht Timatar Biryani' followed by the 'Paya Khamiri'. I admit I am a sucker for biryani but when its this good, it clearly will have be raving about it. The mutton was succulent and tender imparting great flavor. The flavor of the rice, tomatoes, spices and the mutton married to create a match made in heaven. I so wished that my evening should have started with this lovely biryani and also ended with the very same dish.

I'm not much into desserts and they just form a customary course in my meal. I like to sample and taste dessert for a sweet taste to linger post the meal. There was a lot on offer but what I relished completely was the Roohafza Kheer.

I clearly love food festivals and when a food festival has a story or a history to relate to it's clearly a treat in every sense. There's a lot on cards at ITC Hotels; both at Windsor and Gardenia - So stay tuned for interesting experiences that you can explore.

Address: No. 1, Residency Road, Bengaluru - 560025
Phone Number: +91 80 2211 9898

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