Monday, January 26, 2015

Rivaayat is revival of tradition : tasting some traditional flavours from Awadh, Delhi, Hyderabad and Amritsar at The Oberoi, New Delhi

Yes, I went for another Rivaayat dinner hosted by Threesixty at The Oberoi, New Delhi. As I mentioned in my last Rivaayat experience at Trident Gurgaon, this initiative by The Oberoi group is a way to bring the traditional cuisines to the forte and build up a repertoire of authentic Indian recipe for their properties all across India.

At Threesixty, we met Chef Arun Mathur who has worked with some khandani cooks and brought age old recipes from them for the patrons of The Oberoi. And I must say the chefs at Threesixty have done full justice to the traditional cuisines going by the things we tasted there.

Ruchira, Himanshu and I went for a dinner there last week and could not resist the crusty breads on the table. The brown rolls were so so good. As we were nibbling on the crusty rolls with butter, Deepica Sarma (Manager communications) introduced us with Chef Arun and he told us how he learnt the talli murghi from a cook in the by-lanes of old Delhi. And we could whiff the old Delhi spices when talli murghi came of the table along with a fiery peeli mirch ki chutney and hari chutney.

The Amritsari machhli was done really well, flavours of ajwain and slight tartness by amchoor well preserved. Many chefs drown the flavours in loads of besan coating and kill the fish but this one kept the promise, more so because the fish was very fresh.

Chawnk ki tikki is a baniya specialty from purani dilli and some parts of UP and it was done well too. Deep fried but light, with a stuffing of chownki hui hari matar, almost like matar ki ghugni. Some people make this tikki with a stuffing of chawnki mung ki daal. We tasted a few pickles on the table and loved the mushroom garlic pickle the most. Chicken and prawn pickles were good too but mushroom-garlic took the cake.

Among the mains my most favourite was the saag murgh kofte. Silky smooth chicken balls poached in water and then cooked lightly with wilted spinach was very delicately spiced and cooked just right. Maah chhole ki daal felt exactly like home cooked, light and honest. No nonsense of too much tomatoes or too much butter or cream in it and yet so flavourful.

I loved the rarah meat too as it was not over spicy like the dhabas and no oil floating on top. But the robustness of the spice was evident as it is supposed to be. Well balanced.

Nihari gosht was different from what we had tasted from Shahjahanabad ki Sair but was still very good. Light and aromatic with hints of saffron to be enjoyed with khameeri roti or baqarkhani roti. I took a bite from each type of roti and loved them all. Baqarkhani was not sweet and aromatic with saffron which I liked a lot. Garlic naan was also done really well but I can't eat too much breads with my meals.

Dahi wala kukkad was a bit too tart for my liking but not bad. I know many who would like it. I had found the saag murgh kofte and needed nothing else in fact. I would try and recreate it in my own kitchen really soon.

Desserts were served and everyone liked the gulathi which is a grainier version of phirni. This gulathi is a UP specialty chef Arun informed and is cooked along with some coconut and saffron, it was rich and heavy but tasted good. Although I don't enjoy such desserts much, 2 spoonfuls and I am done.
Gajar ka halwa was also good but we have had better gajar ka halwa so it did not make an impact.

I would definitely remember the saag murgh kofte, maah chhole ki daal and rarha meat from Threesixty and the fact that all food was light despite being traditional Indian curries. This is what I like when old recipes are treated with respect and recreated in a way that it can be enjoyed for normal meals.

We had some green tea before we departed. It was such a comforting meal for a chilly winter day.

It feels good when a traditional meal is served this well, is done justice towards and is enjoyed by everyone on the table. A meal that doesn't feel too heavy if you actually don't overeat.

Rivaayat is a great initiative by The Oberoi in fact. I am watching how it unfolds in other cities as a friend told Hyderabad is next where Rivaayat is unfolding.

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