Monday, 16 June 2014

For any die-hard foodie, a culinary tour of India will be like visiting heaven. The stark contrast in cuisine across the 4 corners of the country is sure to keep them guessing on all the beautiful dishes and the exotic ingredients that go with them. The Butter Chicken Masala in the North combined with the Dosas from the South and add to it some chats from the west and one can keeping going on and again over the different dishes that we can savour. But in today’s restaurant scenario in India, many restaurant fail to provide authenticity in their food as they try to cover the entire Indian cuisine under one roof. This leads to mixing of the unique tastes that needs to be attributed to each dish based on the geographic location of its origin. However, there are still a handful of restaurant which believe that the trade-off between the variety of dishes vs authenticity will always have the win tilting towards authenticity and have hence embarked on a journey of providing authentic cuisines from lesser known regions of the sub-continent.

One such restaurant serving authentic regional cuisine in Chennai is “Beyond Indus” located within the “Taj Club House” in Anna Salai. Diners here get to savour some exotic foods from the provinces surrounding the Indus River namely Punjab, Rawalpindi & Sindh.  True to their name, the dishes served here were always a reflection of the regions that it was supposed to represent. Various dinners here have never failed in satisfying the entourage. When a restaurant has created a mark in setting amazing food, imagine a food festival being held.
(Chef Chandan - Masala Klub)
How can you have a food festival when you have already differentiated your offering? Well here comes the twist, the food festival being conducted is by a visiting chef from another of Taj’s restaurant, the “Masala Klub” from the “Taj West End” at Bangalore. And what do they specialize in, they provide a modern twist to classical Indian cuisine. Chef Chandan from Masala Klub stylishly recreates authentic Indian flavours using modern cooking techniques and using healthier ingredients without compromising on the taste.
(Papads)
Upon being seated, first to make its way to our table was the welcome drink. On this occasion it was a ‘Litchi’ flavoured drink served in a Champagne glass. This was followed by an amuse-bouche which was a ‘Pani Puri’ with the pani being a differentiator made from Pineapple extract. We were then introduced to the offering for the day which comprised of three starters, three mains served with Indian breads and a plate of traditional desserts.
(Litchi Drink)
(Pineapple Pani Puri)
Once the introductions were over, the starters were presented on the table. The starter platter comprised of ‘Palak Papad ke Kebab’, ‘Bhunna lasson de Murgh Tikka’ & ‘Pan seared Sea Bass’. The Palak papad ke kebab was made of Broccoli florets flavoured with a mix of mustard and spices and finally char-grilled to attain a papad crispiness on the outside. The Murgh tikka was the traditional tender chicken cubes draped in cheese and flavoured with Cardamom and Garlic. The Sea Bass had a peppery taste to it as it was pan seared using deggi mirch. The Papad kebab was the clear highlight of the starters as its crispy crust was an absolute palate pleaser.
(Starter Kebab Platter)
For the mains, we were served with three curries, a mutton, a prawn and a vegetarian. The ‘Patiala Mutton curry’ is an ethnic Punjabi dish made using meat from the leg of a lamb and finished using ghee to provide the richness to the gravy. This was followed by the ‘Anardana Jingha’ which was a prawn gravy with flavourings infused from roasted coriander seeds, the beautiful Kashmiri chilies and topped with pomegranate seeds. The combination of flavours was just mind boggling and was a pure treat along with their ‘Chili Olive Naan’ that was served as the accompaniment. The last of the gravies to make way was the ‘Nadru aur Singhada’ that directly translates to Lotus Stem and Water Chestnut literally. It was quite unique to taste a curry made using these two ingredients and must say they complemented each other very well.
(Curry Trio)
(Chili Olive Naan)
To end the evening, the desserts were rolled out. The dessert for the evening was the ‘Baked Anjeer Halwa’. The halwa is made up of mashed figs and is an all-time favourite of the Masala Klub’s menu. The halwa was served along with a Coconut Ice Cream that had a few tongue-tickling pieces of tender coconut flesh.
(Dessert Platter)
If you thought the evening ended here, you have to be wrong. Being foodies, we are always on the hunt to find out best places for unique dishes. Being in a restaurant serving authentic Northern-North Western cuisine, how can we leave without tasting their ‘Galouti Kebab’ especially after the Chef revealed that it was his personal favourite too. So after much deliberation with fellow food bloggers Dr Wasim & Dr Shadir, the trio of us decided to go for the kill. As we were already beaten down by the amazing meal that was set in front of us already, we requested for just one portion of the kebab and that’s all the space that was remaining. However, Chefs being chefs, bought us a complete plate with four Galouti’s neatly tucked on a Saffron Roti. The looks were very deceptive as after the customary photo clicks, I’d placed the fork on top of the kebab to pack my camera gear so that we can leave as soon as the tasting is over.
(Making of Galouti Kebab)
Within a few seconds, what we witnessed was phenomenal. Historically, Galouti came into existence because when the Mughal Kings became old and lost their teeth, they still wanted to savour kebabs that would taste divine yet be so soft that they would melt inside the mouth. True to its history, what we saw was that the fork I’d placed had actually sunk inside the kebab. That’s how soft it was. The first bite sealed the case and the verdict was out. Finally a Galouti that beats those from the ‘The Great Kebab Factory’ at Radisson Blu. The trio of us were so delighted that we kept talking about the Galouti till late that evening. A must try if you are a Galouti fan.
(Galouti Kebab)
The ‘Masala Klub’ festival is on till the 22nd of June at Beyond Indus, located at Hotel Taj Club Road in Anna Salai and a meal for two will cost you upwards of ₹ 3000.

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