A royal expedition
Well, Virginia Woolf rightly said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
Besides taking you to a royal expedition so as to explore the authentic flavours from the royal kitchen of Mahmudabad, amidst the majestic grandeur, The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel is offering a lot to live up to.
The very thought of India and its royal palaces gives an unprecedented glimpse of the splendid atmosphere. You would actually get quite a similar vibe from the place as the interiors make sure to avail you with a perspicuously regal learning experience the moment you step in. Nothing could be better than a butler service-well dressed in typical royal style- welcoming you with a jasmine garland and a welcome drink to freshen up your mood. Ushered by the staff member, I walked around the place just to level up my amazement. The beautiful table chandeliers, intricate, etched silver crockery, huge silver platters, and every bit of beautiful decoration contributed to impart a royal feel. Since the ambience was quite alluring and irresistible, I couldn't wait more to get my hands on the royal dinner.
But of course, it's better to familiar with what you are going to be served. Helping in settling down my inquisitions, Chef De Cuisine Ashwani Kumar Singh gave me a mini tour of the place while enlightening me about the fabulously diverse range of dishes served in the royal household. The chef who has replicated the royal flavours for the ongoing festival, paid a visit to the city to bring out the best of everything. Mahmudabad, one of the oldest estates in Awadh, is known for its distinctive cuisine. Generations-old recipes, which has been preserved and expanded time and again, still hold the originality in its flavours. Well, talking about 'History' could be interesting sometimes, provided you are amidst a spellbinding atmosphere with dim lightning and in-house Ghazal musicians, singing to please your ears.
While the interiors could be a bit of a refresh, the highlight of the festival was, of course, the authenticity of the food. To trigger my appetite, I was taken to the live counter to have a crisp aloo tikki. As I spoon it into my mouth, the creamy curd and the tangy chutney, served along, played an amazing medley of flavours. Next in the line was Kharche ka anda, which is traditionally served along with Khade masale ka keema. For the taste, I would call is impeccable but what fascinated me more was the way it was cooked; crisp on the outside but amazingly fluffy on the inside. Though I am a hard-core non-vegetarian, I won't hesitate to give a nod of approval to the veg section as well.
Next serving on the 'Dastarkhan' were two platters stuffed with distinctive starters. The vegetarian plate, on one hand, had Subz kakori, lauki ki tikiya, goolar kebab etc. However, the shammi kebab, gole kebab and murg aaftabi kebab were on non-veg starter platter. The best of all was the fish fry. The bite that feels crunchy initially melts in your mouth within a fraction of second.
Moving on to the main course, I was offered few signature dishes which include Tale aloo ka salan, Murgh zafrani, murgh mirch dumpukh, dum aloo lucknowi and paneer hazrat mahal. Though there were quite a number of differently cooked dishes; but I continued to have more of Gosht makhana Qorma, subtly flavoured gravy cooked with fox nuts. For the flavours, it was like nothing I have had before; rich and aromatic, spicy yet savoury. Prawns served in thick creamy gravy were good enough but didn't quite stand out for me. As for the breads, I settled for Nawabi Paratha, made out of the dough prepared with milk and Anannas ke parathe; which was quite sweet for my taste. Of course there was much more on the menu, but I can't eat all of it as much I'd like to. So, to have a sweet ending to my meal I picked up Shaahi Tukda- a kind of bread pudding served with reduced milk, and almonds, became my highlight.
The 16-day long festival will last until October 15.