Long forgotten delicacies that were once relished by the erstwhile kings, maharajas and nizams of India can now be savoured courtesy a unique opportunity for food connoiseurs.
Gastronomical delights from the kitchens of the Kashmiri Dogras, the kings of Travancore, the Nizams of Hyderabad and the Mewars of Rajasthan have been recreated by Varq at the Taj Mahal Hotel here.
The recipes, which are on offer at the restaurant till June 30 have been curated as part of Executive Chef Arun Sundaraj’s passion project. “What we have beeen doing is an extensive research on the lost cuisines of the royals primarily to look at how we can go back to our cultures, see what flavours were used by them and why were they lost,” he says.
He said that they had altered the recipes slightly and also toned them down in terms of the spices. A glimpse of the menu is enough to know that almost all the vegetarian recipes are from the kingdom of Travancore in Kerala, while the rulers of Hyderabad and Kashmir clearly prefered meat.
The restaurant has curated a well balanced five-course meal, with equal number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items to choose from. It will be served as part of their a la carte menu. Opening the culinary extravaganza is a pair of kebabs from Kashmir. While the ‘Vegetable Duo’ consists of ‘Pattode ke kebab’ and ‘Paneer Gulnar Kebab,’ meat lovers can relish ‘Tujji chicken and lahabi kebab.’
According to Chef Rajesh Singh, Chef at Varq, both the kebab duos used to be popular delicacies of the Dogra cuisine. “The filling in the paneer gulnar kebab is made of a mixture of vetiver or khus and cashew nuts. Pattode ke kebabs are made with spinach,” says Singh.
While non-vegetarians have a variety of options, the vegetarians’ palettes are likely to feel bored with the unswerving flavour of spinach, that is recurrent not just in the appetisers but also in the main course.
Again from the house of Travancore is the ‘Cheera ada curry’ that is visually quite unappetising and likely to remind one of the floral foams that are used for making bouquets. The preparation is a block of mashed green spinach flavoured with coconut and cashew nuts and is topped with red spinach fritters. “The ideal way to eat this is with something crispy and that is why we have put some banana chips on the top,” says Chef Singh.