After all the new age tech in cooking methods, the moment we hear about the old age methods, we get very interested. That’s what happened when I heard about the Sand and Stone Cooking food fest at Hyderabad Marriott Hotel. Rightly titled as –Rediscover The Tradition, they have fused 2 of the most rustic cooking techniques for this food festival which is on till 3rd December
Chef Aungshuman Chakraborty has brought in this fest onto the Hyderabadi plate and it’s a perfect match of rustic meets contemporary. I was told that the initial plan was to have only the stone cooking technique. But then, a trip to Jaisalmer and a glimpse of the sand cooking technique there, led to the addition of sand in the fest. And since both are earthy, slow cooking techniques, the fusion seemed apt! And did we love it or what!
The set-up is absolutely traditional with 2 huge slabs of stone being used with burners underneath. For the sand pit, there is large quantity of sand mixed with charcoal and then heated from all sides. This Sand and Stone cooking setup was a pleasant sight and a positive sign for the things to come. We even saw Chef pull out the meats enclosed in foil from the sand pit. As for the stone slab, it was covered in meat all the time, given that it takes a long long time for cooking that.
Menu at Sand and Stone Cooking Festival
The menu is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. There is no main course in the fest, since this cooking technique allows for only dry preparations.
Stone Smoke Murgh Ki Parichay set the evening rolling right off the stone slab and onto the plate. Marinated well and lightly spiced, the chicken was cooked just perfect. It made sense to start with this given how quickly chicken can cook.
One thing I was very keen to try was the Pathar Ki Pomfret. In Hyderabad, we all love the gosht on pathar, but fish is not common. Again, this also cooks very fast and was served next. I loved the texture and flavor. I usually don’t like fish owning to the smell, but here the stone seemed to have taken it all off.
Then it was time for the Hyderabadi favorite, Pathar Ka Gosht. This was by far the best I have had in Hyderabad. Super melt in the mouth, almost like a confit and rich aroma. Since this was cooked from scratch on the stone, the meat had this perfect slow cooked texture.
Another new thing was the Stone Pe Tala Hua Jheenga. Prawns tossed in a spicy marinade with some lime juice and then put on the stone slab. This was good too, but I would still pick the gosht and pomfret over this one.
From the sand pit we had the showstopper of the Sand and Stone cooking fest – Sikandari Raan. Whole leg of lamb, marinated in spices and then covered with a foil to be put in the pit. After cooking slowly and evenly in the pit, it’s taken out and served with the bone. If you like your meat to be spicy, just check with them on increasing the spices a little.
Pathar Ka Paneer Tikka was the surprise dish of the night for me. I never thought that a paneer tikka could be cooked so well on stone slab. The flavor inside was perfect and the little charred outside from the stone added a new dimension.
We also had some Sand Smoke Mushorooms that were done in the sand pit and were done just right. The Pathar Ki Subzi Shikampuri can fool anyone into believing that it was meat. The ratio of vegetables and lentils has been chosen to give that perfect texture. Also, like the other items, the flavors continued to shine.
One big favorite around the table was the Sand Roasted Bharwan Karela. A whole Karela, stuffed with potatoes, cilantro and nuts, loaded into the sand pit and cooked really slow. The sourness was completely nullified and what came through was this beautiful dish that you just can’t get enough of.
Some delectable Kacche Gosht Ki Biryani followed up next with the Bidri Dal pairing perfectly. And how can a meal be complete without desserts so we had some Kulfi Falooda, Double Ka Meetha and Sheer Korma.
Kudos to the Chef and his team for making this happen. Right from hearing about this Sand and Stone cooking festival to relishing it, this has been one outstanding experience. Nothing beats the charm of a well done, rustic and traditional cooking method.
So if there was one thing you had to do this week and experience something new and amazing, check out this Sand and Stone cooking festival at Hyderabad Marriott Hotel. The festival is on till 3rd December.