A ball of ragi, cooked till pliable but not too mushy, and topped with ghee is simple enough, and is a part of the Flavours of Telangana, under the aegis of the Kitchens of India (I talked about the North East Chapter a few months ago) which is going on at ITC Sonar at Eden Pavillion. I have a special spot for good food from this state, especially the vast flavour palate which it offers – wth local ingredients combined with that of the nobility as well as the British.
We started off our meal with an assortment of salads and a couple of starters. There was a rather soothing pachadi which was mild and not too tangy, as well as an assortment of pickles which were curated and brought in by the Chef himself. I also spied curd-coated chillies on the Carrot Kachumbar, and that might have been one of the reasons why I took a generous helping of it.
The lobia fritters were hot, crisp, and had a simple filling of crushed and cooked lobia, and although these were rather good piping hot, I wished for them to be slightly more spicy.
But the crowd-pleaser was the Mutton Liver Fry, where plates were brought in and consumed with a rather high degree of alacrity, our plates clearing up quickly, as the people around the table suddenly became rather silent.
The buffet of Eden Pavillion offered an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items, and I was rather quickly drawn to the Ulava Charu, which wasn’t much to look at, but was a rasam which would soothe the soul with a kick of ginger and the tang from tamarind. I also had to take a bit of the Koorakayala Thalimpu, where mustard and coconut was mixed with fresh, finely chopped vegetables and tossed and cooked together till the vegetables were tender but not mushy.
The Tarkari Miloni was a simple dish of mixed vegetables, and it reminded me strongly of the times I had eaten something very similar in Hyderabad, only it contained more aubergine and chillies in it.
The non-vegetarian fare was also a revelation – rather than going the usual way of celebrating the recipes from the Nizami kitchen, the Chef had, rather, put in local flavours, where spices were fewer and the flavours were much more robust. A good example was the Tangy Fish Pulao, which was based on a pulusu. Somewhere in my blog, I have talked about pulusu, which basically means ‘acidity’, if I remember what I was told by my cousins. The pulao is gently tangy, though, and is rather nice with the Mirch Ka Saan which is a Hyderabadi favourite.
If you haven’t had gongura pickles, then I suggest you start. Although it is advised to eat it in moderation due to it being a laxative, gongura, or Rosselle leaves, can be made into a pickle which is downright addictive. The meat was falling off the bone, and the gongura gave it a bit of sourness which it needed. In the non-vegetarian segment, there was also a rather nice garlic chicken and a dish cooked with prawns, but I felt that the spice quotient, in general, was far lower than what I have tasted in Hyderabad, especially the level of heat.
For dessert, there was a rather sweet Khubani ka Meetha, which was filled with plenty of apricots, and a basundi which I wasn’t too fond of. The Telangana food festival is currently on at ITC Sonar till the 21st of February, and you can avail the dishes as part of their menu at Eden Pavillion during lunch and dinner as part of their extensive buffet.
Disclaimer: Poorna Banerjee dined at ITC Sonar at the kind invitation of the management.