We as humans have evolved from a civilization of gatherers. There was time when royals would venture out on hunting expeditions which sometimes lasts days. The game meat then had to be cooked in the wild using rustic cooking methods. This gave evolution to the Sand and Stone cooking methods.
The Sand pits were quite popular in desert and arid areas where the meat was packed in a parcel and placed inside the hot sand. This heat cooked the meat evenly giving way to a dish which was nearly fall-apart. The marinades for the meat could be of different types based on the spice availability of the region. The sand cooking technique was liberal in it’s use of spices making the food, fiery hot. This led to the body giving of sweat which in turn acted as a cooling mechanism. There’s always so much history to learn through the evolution of food. And this is exactly what Chef Angshuman and Team at Bidri, Marriott Hyderabad showcase with their ‘Sand & Stone’ Festival.
Two years ago Bidri had organized a Stone and Wood Fire festival. This time there is an extension of selection in the food options which have lot of vegetarian options too. Off the vegetarian side of the menu my favorites were the Bharwan Karela and the Sand smoked mushrooms. I absolutely love bitter-gourds unlike many, especially when it comes with a filling. With the Sand Roasted Bharwan Karela, the chefs have filled the bitter-gourd with spicy potatoes, nuts and cilantro and cooked it in sand. Bidri has actually built a make-shift sand-pit in the outdoor area which heats the sand from the bottom.
The Pathar ka Gosht is quite a familiarity with Hyderabadi cuisine. If you ever venture out to the Old City, you’d find a lot of street vendors making this famous Hyderabad dish on a slab of granite. Thin strips of meat are let to break down with raw papaya. This helps in cooking the meats to cook much easier on the stone slab. The rest among the non-vegetarians include Pathar ka Pomfret, Prawns among many other. My favorite among all the dishes was the Sikandari Raan where a whole leg of lamb was marinated in a mix of malt, vinegar, spice rub and cooked in the sand. The meat was deliciously tender and beautiful.
Sometimes you want to sit down for a meal and not have to think on what’s happening on your plate. The traditional Indian style of cooking methods have always been special and will continue to do so. Kudos to the chefs of Bidri for truly showcasing Indian history on a plate.