|Hyatt Regency Indian Restaurant|
I have always had a weakness for good Punjabi food. The inherent simplicity, and the ease of cooking is what would make me go back to it over and over again, and no, for those of you who think it is all about Butter Chicken, please go and drown yourself in a vat filled with daal right now. Punjabi food is so much more, and thanks to friends who are Punjabi, I have had my share of wonderful Punjabi home cooked food. Sometimes, it would be a few hot parathas, served with a side of pickle and curd, and yes, that’s one of the most amazing meals I have eaten. A dear friend of mine often calls me over when he makes his famous rajma chawal, and its comforting and like a warm hug. Needless to say, when J said there was going to be Punjabi food at Hyatt, Kolkata, I was all for it!
|Chef Anil Khurana|
As I said, the essence of Punjabi food is in its simplicity, and Chef Anil Khurana celebrates it to the tee. As a result, our meal constitutes of a lovely balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, cooked in a manner which reflects his attention to details. He is a man with fresh stains on his pristine white garb, smiling and talking as he stirs the daal makhni. As we wait for him to join us at Guchhi, the Indian restaurant at Hyatt Regency, Kolkata, a platter, filled with vegetarian kebabs, is put in front of us.
|Hara Kabab and Khubani Paneer Tikka|
We start with a serving of the Khubani ka Paneer Tikka and Hara Kabab, and the paneer’s softness is the first thing that hits me. It is. So. Soft. And yes, I don’t have words to describe that. There is a thin layer of spicy apricots on top, but, the paneer melts in my mouth, and I close my eyes briefly, thanking God for making me feel happy on what otherwise would have been a pretty sad day. The Hara kabab is decadent – under the thin layer of spinach lie a thick spread of dry fruits, which is minced to perfection and spread in an even layer, so that every bite gives me a little bit of the spinach and some of the filling inside. A spicy, light mint chutney accompanies it, and I realize the meal has started off on a fantastic note.
The Aloo Firdaus looks innocent enough, but hidden in the stuffing filled with peas and nuts are a smattering of pomegranate seeds, and just when you are comfortably lulled into the comfort of the potatoes, out comes a burst of tang, which wakes the palate up perfectly. On the other hand, the Bhutte Ke Kabab is almost too simple in its execution, but it is still tender and sweet, and quite nice for those who have a hankering for sweetcorn.
In the non vegetarian segment, there is the quintessential Tandoori chicken, Amritsari Machhi, and the Achaari Murg Tikka. The pieces of meat are marinated till they are tender, but not mushy, and the inherent meatiness is not drowned in the spices – they are charred till they have a little bit of give remaining, and then served to the table. The tandoori chicken is decadent, for the lack of a better word. It needs to be eaten with your fingers, stripping the tender white flesh from the bones, and consuming quietly, while listening to the mild chatter in the other tables.
The fish is simple – crisp, and best had with some lime. I drizzle a bit on mine, and watch the fat white fish flake at the touch of the fork.
|Assorted Kababs at Hyatt kolkata|
For our mains, the fare is chiefly vegetarian. The Chef promises us his version of the Amritsari Chhole and Kulcha, and, soon enough, dishes are set in front of us, with soft, buttery kulcha on them, and some chhole ladled onto our plates. A thin, runny, sweet and sour chutney comes along now, there to accompany the chhole. Silence prevails still, as other items in the menu comes up, one by one.
|Amritsari Kulcha with Chhole|
And there is the tomato raita, which is mild and creamy, served with a side of the paneer bhurji, which is cooked with a touch of cilantro and turmeric. It is a simple dish, and we devour it with a piece of red chilli paratha (mirchi paratha), which, despite the name, isn’t too hot.
|Hyatt Lunch Buffet Offer|
There is also a rather delicate dish of Bharwaan Parwal, which I inch my way towards. Very tender, young pointed gourds were chosen carefully for this dish, then, carefully slit open to remove the seeds. The seeds were then cooked with a bit of khoya, and then, stuffed back into the gourds before they were shallow fried till they were soft, and then served on a lovely cashew-based gravy. I licked my spoon clean.
The baingan ka bharta was cooked with a good bit of tomatoes and cilantro, and the smokiness of perfectly charred eggplant combined with the sharp cilantro and tangy tomatoes reminded me of what I generally make at home.
The Makhani Daal, unlike the generic tomato and cream fest, was cooked for hours, and it showed from the slight smokiness it had acquired. Chef Khurana talked about how one time someone had said that one of the most common rumors which wafted around the making of a famous version of daal makhni was adding some burning charcoal directly to the pulses when it cooked, and the entire table was rolling with laughter. The secret, he said, was to not add too many things, and just let the lentils cook till it was ready.
|Gosht Beli Ram|
Of course, no meal would be complete without some meat, and the Gosht Beli Ram was with tender pieces of meat, cooked with a good bit of pounded coriander seeds, which came across wonderfully in the light gravy. Although there were prawns, but well, I was at this point feeling more than full, so decided to skip them and go straight to my favorite part of the menu – dessert.
|Hyatt Regency lunch Buffet|
The dessert was a bowl of fruit rabdi, with little chunks of fruits immersed in a thick, creamy rabdi which was delightful. Although R found this a bit too sweet for his taste, I was perfectly okay hunting for the rabdi and happily scooping it out from amidst the chopped fruits (my aversion towards raw fruits is pretty legendary, but well, the rabdi was so creamy, that it made up for it all!).
The meal I had is part of a special menu curated by Chef Anil Khurana, and it will be available till the end of this month. Some of it will also be part of the Hyatt lunch buffet at Guchhi, which is priced at 1199/- plus tax (food only), and 1499/- plus tax (food and liquor). The a-la-carte dishes are priced between 850/- and 2200/- plus tax. Plus, Chef Khurana is conducting a cooking class on 25th and 26th August, 2015, and you can join in for 2500/- plus tax, to learn some amazing dishes made by a man who loves to cook and make good food.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee was invited to Hyatt Regency by the Management.