What happens when star chefs from five properties gather to create a food festival at one location? That too, in our city, Bangalore? You can expect plenty! A few foodies and bloggers were invited to a preview of the ‘Road to Baluchistan’, a food festival currently running at Lalit Ashok Hotel, Bangalore.
Conceived by Chef Suvaranjan and Chef Bharat Kapoor of Baluchi, Bangalore, the Food Festival brings signature dishes of the participating star chefs of each Baluchi restaurant, a few forgotten dishes, and then some modern interpretations of Indian cuisine.
Chef Mumtaz from Baluchi Mumbai, set the mood for the evening with an elegantly plated Subz Gullar Kabab. The kabab, unusually shaped like a samosa was silken smooth on the tongue. Its richness grew on the palate before unleashing the spice and heat within! Perfectly balanced in texture and flavour, this amuse bouche certainly had us all looking forward to the next course.
I next chose a vegetarian platter of starters while the other diners were offered vegetarian or non-vegetarian platters according to their choice. Sheer morsels of delight, the Mushroom ki Galouti and Malai Artichoke (by Chef Satyabir, New Delhi) were absolutely brilliant! The galouti was unbelievably velvetty on the tongue. The Malai Artichoke had me eyes closed and savouring the lush cream offset by the saltiness of the fleshy artichoke. The Rajwada Paneer Tikka (by Chef Zainul Abedin, Jaipur) scored well on flavour, however the paneer was a tad chewy. Palak ki Nazakat (by Chef Bharat Kapoor, Bangalore) went down reasonably well. I enjoyed the tomato relish on this kabab better than the kabab itself. Plated with pomegranate molasses, balsamic reduction, and pineapple relish, the presentation and the taste had everyone nodding happily in approval. The surprise churan powder and gold dusted green olive on the platter had all of us in ‘oooohhs’ and ‘aaaahs’.
Note the elegant plating, don’t miss the gold olive either!
The Baluchi, Bangalore has introduced a Naanery coupled with unique chutneys and paired with an interesting wine list. On offer that evening were Baqarkhani (a Kashmiri roti fragrant with saffron), Besan ki roti (crisp and spiked with ajwain), Pheni Paratha (flaky, rich, crisp, and topped with sesame seeds), and Gilafi Kulcha (stuffed with cheese and peppers), teamed with interesting chutneys such as Raw Papaya chutney, Carrot chutney, Radish chutney and a sweet-spicy Tomato chutney. The wine list includes whites from Vina Esmaralda, a Sauvignon Blanc from Honig, and reds from Brancaia TRE 2012 and KRSMA 2014.
This Naan-wine pairing is sure to pique the interest of discerning gourmets in this city.
The main course, aptly named ‘Dawat-e-Lazeez’ arrived soon after. As a vegetarian, I chose to go along with suitable menu options. The Bhindi Singhada, a smart stir fry of fresh Bhindi with crisp water chestnuts tossed with fresh spices won my heart for it’s uniqueness and real-fresh spice flavours. I enjoyed the Paneer parcha mutter, prepared by stuffing a ground green pea mixture inside parcels of soft paneer and simmered in an onion-tomato gravy. This gravy had an interesting texture and gutsy flavours. The Dal Baluchi was superlative in aroma. Silken-creamy on the tongue, smoky aroma, each spoonful was eaten joyfully. The Jodhpuri Gatta Subzi had a hearty, spicy gravy to its advantage, while the Gatta could have been improved by soaking for longer in the gravy. My search for the perfect Rajasthani Gatte ki Subzi continues.
Served with more hot Naans, rotis, and assorted breads, and an excellent array of pickles, namely, Kathal ka Achar, Aam ka Achar, Hara Seb ka Achar(outstanding), the main course left me heaving under its array.
A refreshing Pineapple Jeera Granita was welcome as a palate cleanser. A good thing too, for we were presented with a superbly aromatic, unusual ‘Paan Biryani’. Delicately flavoured with Paan leaves, cooked on Dum, and served with Burrani Raita, do not miss this!
All good things come to an end. We came to a sweet ending of this mighty repast with bowls of Gulab ki Kheer, Malai Kulfi, and hot Gulkhand ke Gulab Jamun! If Gulab (Rose flavour) dominated the dessert options, I did not complain! Of the three, I feel partial to the succulent Gulkhand stuffed Gulab Jamun. Depsite not being a fan of Gulkhand, I could not resist polishing off this hot Jamun.
If you are a fan of North-Indian food, if you enjoy a carefully curated menu in a soothing ambience by courteous and attentive staff, if you do not want to miss the offering of the some of the best chefs in the country, you should reserve your table at Baluchi, Lalit Ashok, Bangalore. The festival is on till the 20th of March. Open for lunch and dinner with a la carte menu offered. Costs approximately Rs.3000 for two.