I have sampled the fares at Lucknowi, Awadhi and even Rampur food festivals held across restaurants in Mumbai. However, I have never come across a food festival that encompasses the culinary richness of the entire state of Uttar Pradesh rather than just the aforesaid places of the state. But, the recently held Uttar Pradesh Food Festival by Lake View Café at Renaissance Mumbai Hotel & Convention Centre in conjunction with the Uttar Pradesh tourism board gave me this opportunity.
The culinary marvels of this one of a kind food festival were the brain child of Chef Yogender Singh who has spent almost fifteen years at the hotel.
Here is a glimpse of my gluttony at this food festival during a special bloggers table at this food festival:
START TO THE MEAL:
RAS PURI OF LUCKNOW:
With the advent of season of the king of fruits, mangoes, this dish was the best way to set the tone for the food courses to flow. The RAS comprised of mango pulp and chunks of the fruit. A mild flavoring with green cardamom powder (choti elaichi powder) made the ras even more lip-smacking. The PURI or the bread was made from a dough of refined flour and deep fried. This had a stuffing of chana dal (Bengal gram) that had been blanched and mashed. A tempering of green chillies, garlic and cumin seeds made this stuffing flavorsome. The puri was flaky and paired superbly with the ras.
BESAN CHILLA OF ALIGARH:
These were appetizing chilla or crepes made of besan (Bengal gram flour). Chopped onions, tomatoes and cumin seeds were layered with the batter while cooking. Six different kinds of Chef Yogender Singh’s handcrafted pickles were served with the chilla. These included – aloo ka achaar (potato pickle), gobi ka achaar (cauliflower pickle), gajar ka achaar (carrot pickle), mirchi ka achaar (stuffed green chili pickle), raw papaya murabba (a sweet pickle) and watermelon murabba comprising of only the green skin of the melon. Each pickle was delicious in its own right. But, my favorite was the potato pickle. This is the first time ever I have come across a potato pickle in my culinary journey.
ALOO TIKKI CHAAT OF BANARAS
This was your typical ragda patties but, prepared the way it is done in Banaras. The tikkis/patties were made of mashed potatoes, given a coating of besan and deep fried in ghee (clarified butter) to give a crisp coating to the patties. These were then immersed in ragda, dried white peas cooked to a chunky sauce consistency. The ragda was flavored with chili and turmeric powders. The chaat was finished off with a topping of chopped onions, crushed crisp puris and sweet and spicy chutney.
AMRUD KA SHARBAT OF JAUNPUR
This was a non-alcoholic beverage served along with the appetizers. Ripened guavas along with seeds were blended with black salt, black pepper, cumin seeds and green chili paste. The drink was sweet and spicy and addition of seeds added a nice crunch to it.
CHIPPA GOSHT OF MATHURA
The CHIPPA GOSHT (mutton) was prepared using the leg of the lamb (raan). The sliced lamb was marinated in a mixture of ginger-garlic paste, green and black cardmom powders, cinnamon and bay leaf. The marinated lamb was then cooked in gravy comprising of onion paste, birista (golden fried onions) paste and curd. The gravy was spiced up with garam masala, black pepper powder, green cardamom powder, javitri (mace) and coriander powder. The lamb was succulent and the flavor of the gravy was perfect in terms of seasoning and use of spices.
CHAPTA MURGH OF KANPUR
The CHAPTA (flat) MURGH (chicken) consisted of boneless slivers of chicken marinated in cashew nut paste, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder, coriander powder and cumin seed powder. The slices were then given a egg coating and cooked on a tava (griddle). These were then served with a sprinkling of chaat masala. The chicken was moist and the spices lent it a beautiful flavor.
As part of the main course we were served three vegetarian preparations. The first one was a scrumptious PANEER KOFTA (cottage cheese ball) curry. This was a curry comprising of onion, tomatoes and cashew nut paste. The curry was tasty and the paneer had a lovely, silken texture. The second dish was the humble ALOO PYAAZ KI SABZI, which consisted of cubes of potato cooked with onions. The use of spices was very subtle in this dish. The third dish was BATHUVA KA SAAG. This dish entailed soya chunks cooked with bathuva, a leafy green vegetable native to this region of the country.
I finally ended my gluttony with a sweet delight called DOUBLE KA MEETHA. This dessert comprised of slices of bread deep fried in ghee until crisp. These are then soaked in sugar syrup. Three such slices are brought together with a layering of kesar rabdi (a kind of sweetened condensed milk flavored with saffron). The dessert is then topped with a layer of pistachios and chandi ka vark (extremely thin pure silver foil). The dessert was rich, creamy and proved an indulgent treat.
It was delight interacting and learning nuances of the cuisine of Uttar Pradesh from Chef Yogender Singh. The festival just concluded on Sunday 20th March. But, I would definitely love to savor more of this cuisine in the near future. A special mention for the hospitality of the entire staff of Lake View Café for their warmth and enthusiastic approach that I observed they held towards each of the guests dining at the restaurant.
Till then, HAPPY EATING…
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast