Food Festival: Rajasthani
Dates: 18th January – 31st January, 2016
At: Seasonal Tastes, The Westin, Velachery
Time: 7:00 – 11:00 pm
Address: 154, Velachery Main Road Chennai.
Each Indian state or region have their own uniqueness and history in their cuisine. Though the food varieties consumed in different states have resembles, the ingredients used or the methods followed to prepare the food isn't same. Each region have their unique products, which is hard to be grown or found elsewhere. One such unique cuisine with unimaginable delicacies is RAJASTHANI.
It isn't possible for everyone to travel to Rajasthan and explore the cuisine. And that's when the restaurants at each state or city present us with different regions food delicacies in their menu or via food festivals. And "The Westin", international hotelier at Velachery Chennai have put forth their step in presenting Chennaitians the sense of Rajasthani food via a food festival at their Seasonal Tastes Restaurant. I was invited for a bloggers meet for Food Festival.
Seasonal Tastes welcomes their diners with decors that depict the rustic Rajasthani heritage. As I entered the dining space, the buffet looked like a never-ending array of food. The spread gives more focus on Rajasthani food varieties but the spread also consists of other cuisines. The buffet arrangement was noteworthy; well-designed spread across the dining space. It definitely takes a short tour to initially know about each dish. There buffet counters were separated beautifully, namely:
· Swagatam Pey (Welcome drinks)
· Thar Dessert Counter
· Jaipur Ice-cream Counter
· Chetak Chat Counter
· Jaisalmer Salad Counter
· Mewad Soup Counter
· Bikaneri Dahi Preparation
· Starters Counter
· Rajputana Non-Veg Counter
· Marwadi Veg Counter
We were shown the private dining room, where we were accompanied with the Chefs who were the master-architects behind the festival. Chef’s presence gave us the insight of Rajasthan cuisine, the local delicacies and ingredients used in cooking. We enjoyed the brief of each Rajasthani dish, which was served at our table. Here's my take on the Rajasthani food we tasted at our table:
|Master-Architects - Chefs|
Disclaimer: The dishes change every four days and the most authentic delicacies of Rajasthan remain the same. Also, the food festival is held from 18 January 2016 through 31 January 2016.
We started off the evening with fresh juices, which of course is not Rajasthani specific. I ordered for a watermelon juice; right sweetness and consistency – tasted great.
Next up was some authentic starters and main course from the Rajasthani cuisine.
Hari Mirch Achari Machili – The green chilli blend with spices marination was perfect for the fish. The fish was moist and juicy.
Channe aur Moong Ki Seekh – Resembles my favorite masala vadai in looks but not in taste. Though it is meant to be dry, it wasn’t a favorite of mine. Taste them with chutneys, it would be enjoyable.
Khasta Kachori – Looked like a sev puri. Taste-wise was similar but quite different from the usual Bade-wale Kachori (which I am aware of!). Never eat it like a sev poori; try taking bites. The flavors were spot-on; loved it. Wouldn’t let go of the Kachori; LOVED IT.
The chutneys given along with the starters were a YUM. They had Mint Chutney, Peanut Chutney, Ginger-Garlic-Pineapple Chutney and Curd (with a touch of garlic).
Main Course Counter
|Veg Main Course|
Khargosh Ki Biryani – Rabbit biriyani. Never knew that is a Rajasthani delicacy. It’s all mind when it comes to tasting a food; though I favor veg I wanted to taste. The biriyani was tasty as hell, seemed like a medley of Lucknowi and Hyderabadi style preparation. A small bite at rabbit meat felt softer than a chicken / mutton.
Junglee Maas – The richy-rich mutton gravy was a truly authentic and delicious dish. Though looked similar to the South-Indian gravies the taste was unique; it is the local spices and essence of ghee. Mutton was cooked through perfectly; a yum combination with the Roti’s.
Khadh Murgh – The chicken gravy could only take second position while competing with Junglee Maas. It’s the local / authentic spices used at the region that results with different taste again.
|Junglee Maas, Khadh Murgh & Fish Masala|
Machili Dhardara Masala – Felt to be dish that couldn’t race par with the others. Seemed like a left out before Chicken and Mutton in the race. Tasted alike Keralite Fish Curry for me with the essence of coconut.
There were more non-veg dishes to their buffet (I definitely couldn’t taste them) which wasn’t Rajasthani. That includes Rosemary Roasted Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce, Chilli Chicken and Malabar Fish Curry.
Palak Paneer Kofta – My favorite pick for the evening. The Kofta was “taste-personified”. Soft and melts like cheese as you take a bite of roti with palak kofta gravy. Gravy was YUMM.
Bhindi Jaipuri – The ladies-finger gravy was good to taste.
|Kofta & Bindhi|
Nanne Pyaz Ki Kadi – Kadi-chawla is my favorite Punjabi combination but here it was Rajasthani style so there were huge differences. The kadi wasn’t as liquid as it is meant to be in Punjabi style; the chilli flavor hits more than the curd / besan flavor. Different and tastes brilliant to its own self.
Makai aur Hara Pyaz Ki Subzi - Tastes weird is the first thought I had when I ate the ‘corn and spinach gravy’; then the chef explained me the usage of some unknown ingredients specific for that region. Though a good combination for Roti’s and rice somewhere I wasn’t fond of the unique flavor ride.
|Corn Subzi & Kadi|
Jaipuri Mewa Pulao – The powerful hit of saffron, nuts and basmati rice tasted good.
There were other vegetarian dishes as well in the buffet and they are: Bharwan Gatte, Lehsuni papad ki subzi, Kurumilagu cauliflower, Sichuan vegetables,
Burnt garlic fried rice, baked vegetable ratatouille, Scallop potatoes and Steam rice.
Rajasthani food stands-up to their own uniqueness in cooking method or ingredients used. I loved the rustic usage of local spies instead of side-lining with what spices they get at South-India. After a hefty starters and main-course we made the choice to explore the buffet and try out the dishes left.
Swagatam Pey Counter offered Nimbu shikanji and Makhaniya lassi. I tasted the Lassi, which was a delight: perfect creaminess and sweetness; it wasn’t too thick.
|Welcome Drink Counter|
Chetak Chat Counter offered Chats as per our wish. Though it isn’t Rajasthani specific; I wanted to try the Bhel Puri and Pani Puri. Bhel Puri was just Yum, so good it was. Pani Puri, Ok! The puri wasn’t crispy enough is what I felt.
As everyone hogged for more food and salads, I skipped their Jaisalmer Salad Counter and Mewad Soup Counter, I restricted myself to desserts as there were plenty to taste.
The dessert spread had both Indian and Western pastries. I tried every single dessert so to know the best one and eat more my favorite ones. My favorites were:
Mango Turnover – The puff pastry filled with mango jam wasn’t over-sweet and tasteful.
Fruit Tart – I loved the fruits used. The tart base is what I liked the most.
Chena Malpua – Malpua with Rabri was droolicious. Though over-loaded with sweet, I loved it that way :-P
Boondhi Payasam – Right amount of sweetness and soft-soaked boondhis. The Payasam was tasty.
Boondhi Laddoo & Coconut Barfi – All-time favorite sweets of mine. So I enjoyed it.
And you could as well end you hearty-meal with a cup of chai.
The spread is humongous and it’s never going to be possible to eat everything in the spread. Nevertheless, do try in tiny portions and pick the best. Their RAJASTHANI delicacies is something never to be missed as I haven’t come across many authentic Rajasthani food restaurant at Chennai.
Breaking Down Points
Location and Parking: Good. It shouldn’t be hard to spot location at Velachery and they have valet parking services.
Ambience – Good. It is lovely; here and there the decors depict Rajasthan but they could make it more vivacious.
Food Variety – Positive. Though there buffet spread doesn’t restrict to Rajasthani cuisine they have a fair deal of unique dishes to offer.
Taste – Good. Something new to my palate; but I enjoyed my Rajasthani ride. Starters and Main-course were definite favorites.
Quality – Positive. It was the scorer for the day with the food staying true to its local spices and cuisine.
Quantity – Positive. Buffet, go and eat as much as you want :-D
Service – Positive. A courteous service.
Pricing – Ok! Rs. 1555 (plus taxes) per person is definitely a huge sum to spend. The buffet spread and taste of the food tries to justify the price along with International Hotel Standards. I would tag them “Expensive”.
My Favorite Rajasthani Picks: Makhaniya Lassi, Hari Mirch Achari Machili, Khasta Kachori, Khargosh Ki Biryani, Junglee Maas, Palak Paneer Kofta, Bhindi Jaipuri, Jaipuri Mewa Pulao, Chena Malpua and Boondhi Payasam.
The Rajasthani Food Festival isn’t going to be there a yearlong so gear up and take the ride soon. Worth a visit if you love to explore the Rajasthani Cuisine.
P.S. The write-up is based on my food palate and dining experience during my visit. Bloggers meet invite for tasting session at Rajasthani Food Festival. Remember, no two person’s palate can be same.