A food festival of tradition, nostalgia and most importantly a food for the soul is how I’d describe the ongoing Kashmiri Food Festival at Taj Krishna. Firdaus at Taj Krishna has always carried an air of royalty every single time we’ve walked through it’s doors. Mellifluous ghazals and soothing notes are of classical music create an unmatched experience at the Firdaus. But most it is the minute details to food which make Firdaus one of a kind experience.
The Kashmiri Food Festival wasn’t about just having the food. It meant savoring the flavors of the Himalayan region, a rich legacy from the descendants of the Wazas, a cuisine so rich that has just got it’s much-needed attention in recent years. A lot of misconception has been associated with Kashmiri cuisine being sweet which isn’t the case. It’s spicy and it’s super rich. And if you’re a meat-person like us, the plate stops right in front.
Crafting a unique menu of the Wazwan cuisine, Chef Waza Tariq of Taj Vivanta – Dal View has done wonders. We started the night with Nadru Malai Tikki and Chicken Kanti. The Nadru Malai Tikki are delicate pan-grilled tikkis with lotus stem, dal and malai which make a great pairing with the arcot ka chutney. The use of onions graciously in the Kashmiri cuisine is well known and the Chicken Kanti brought forward exactly that.
Now to the favorite appetizer of the night, the Tabak Maaz. I’ve sweet memories of looking out at the gorgeous Himalayas off a balcony while sipping Qahwa and Tabak Maaz. An extremely rustic dish which gives so much importance to the meat while all the masalas just take a backseat for once. You get a light sourness of yogurt and is one of the dishes which is steeped in Kashmiri tradition.
The main course is a happy affair for a non-vegetarian. The Wazwan cuisine gives great importance to the Mutton while the chicken makes up more a side-dish for many. This is not considering the famous Dum Aloo, Rajma Gogje, Haak and Tamatar Chaman of the region. Perhaps the most famous of the Wazwan dishes, the Mutton Rogan Josh had a thick gravy with a brilliant red color from the Kashmiri red chilies and maval flowers. The Rista is Lamb meatballs in a fiery red gravy. The best part about the Rista was the tender aroma of saffron when had with white rice or garlic naan.
The Gustaba is a lamb meatballs in a white gravy. The curry is made with tempering the meatballs in yogurt and dry mint to give it a tangy taste. Haak was a dish I was having for the first time though. Leafy vegetables seldom fit in my meal and this was a time I made place on my plate for some. And I was so glad that I did. A clear and full of flavor gravy made from boiled spinach and Kashmiri chili with steamed white rice was a delightful surprise.
We ended the dinner with the Badami Phirni and Kesari Halwa. Through all the dishes the distinct aroma of zaffran played an important note. Wazwan cuisine is one which definitely has to be experienced b everyone. It’s a part of India we seldom get to experience down south and Firdaus with Chef Waza Tariq made it a beautiful evening to remember.
The Kashmiri Food Festival is on at Firdaus in Taj Krishna from 20th-27th of February.