“Best of West” is the new food festival running at Airport Novotel. The name itself has a quirky angle. All along I kept thinking it would have some continental fair with loads of grills and stuff. Reached the venue and spotted the board for the event. It had a pic of Misal Pav on it!! Then it hit me that this ‘West’ was actually Western India!
But I was more than happy to know that! Not everyday do you find legendary dishes from Wester India in Hyderabad. The Square, at Airport Novotel was dressed up to perfection for the festival. With the oranges, reds and yellows all around it was all very festivy indeed. Waiters adorning a colored jacket with Rajasthani topi, puppets hanging around and a jharokha on the entrance all made for a total Western India feel.
A superb touch brought in by the Novotel team is to get a home chef to curate some of the dishes. Her home-made Gujarati dishes stood out easily with the easy flavours and perfect home feel. She was kind enough to explain all the dishes and why had she chosen those to put out for us. After speaking to her the expectations went a notch higher, but as the food rolled in, it kept hitting those notches!!
Best Of West
On the table we were given a Farsan tray right away, loaded with – Chakli, chikki, faafda, bhakarwadi. A server carrying a tray hung from his neck brought in the drinks – Chaas, thandai and a mango drink. All of this really set the tone for the evening.
The starter brigade seemed to have come from whole of West, starting from the coasts of Mumbai with the Fish Koliwada. This is minced and marinated fish shaped in the form of a wada and then deep fried.
Another offering from Maharashtra was the Aloo Til Tinka, with mashed potatoes fried with a coating of sesame seeds. This along with the chutney was a superb starter.
Next stop was Gujarat with the Handvo, which is like the big brother of dhokla. A baked cake made of rice and lentils and then topped off with a ‘chonk’ of rai and meetha neem.
Rajasthan brought in the clay oven cooked, Hariyali Murgh Tikka. Presentation wise, this was the winning starter. Spiced to the Rajasthani levels and tasted smokey and perfect.
They dint have Misal Pav that day and that did dull my spirits a little. But then off came the Pav Bhaji instead. Small buttery pavs with a small little bowl of bhaji topped with butter. But now all I wanted was to dig into the main course because by now the whole place was filled with the falvours.
Wanting to start light, I got the Kadhi and Khichdi combination. The Kadhi isn’t like the thick Punjabi version, but a little more light and tangy from Gujarat. Goes really well with the Khichdi.
Saoji chicken was what I was waiting for. Being from Nagpur, this is the dish I grew up eating. I know how tough it is to nail this one. So what the chef made from his knowledge and masalas at hand wasn’t close to what we get in Nagpur, but still worked well for the Maharashtra falvors.
The most famous Veg thing from Maharashtra is the Bharli Vangi, which translates to stuffed eggplant. The spices both inside and outside the veggie make this dish a bomb.
From Maharashtra, it was Gujarat now. And in came the Undhiyu, a legend dish in those regions. All vegetables mixed and cooked together in some super spices.
Another Gujarati preparation was the Turiya Patra. Although I don’t ever eat turai but here the flavors and the combination with the spices made it work. And that along with the Bajra roti was really nice.
I was happy to see Dal Dhokli on the menu. This is a lentil based stew with chunks of wheat flour cooked a little. It does take a while to let this dish grow on you. But I have been having it since my childhood so have an instant liking for this one.
Gatte ki Sabzi from Rajasthan was next. Thick rich gravy loaded with Gatte. Getting the gate correct is a huge task and the chef had nailed it perfectly.
Along with all this if you still want more falvours from the region, there’s a counter loaded with stuff from the region. There’s Dhokla, Khandvi, Samosas and proper Navratan set.
No meal from this region is complete without sweets, because they all love their sweets. The dessert ensemble here was more like a painting on the tray. Loaded all the sweets one can think of from the region. But the moment you place a crispy Ghewar loaded with creamy Rabdi on a plate, very few dishes can match up to that. It totally stole the show. Other sweets on offer were – Malpua, Puran Poli, Murmura Ka laddu, Makhan wada, Rajgir ka laddu, Bombay halwa and Till ka laddu.
Overall it was a beautiful affair on offer and when you cant get up to leave the place, it says a lot about how amazing the food was. We ended it off with some fresh masala chai which made it all fall into place perfectly.
Where – Airport Novotel
When – Till 11th September
Price – 1499 ++