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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.

Pathar ka Paneer Tikka

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.

Arbi Aur Chnna ka Shammi

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.

Sikandari Raan

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.

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There have been countless times I’ve walked into Marriott and come out a satisfied customer. But this time was different. On the ride over with a fellow blogger, I had asked her “What was the last meal which left you Wow?” Unexpectedly enough she took a while to answer which were seemingly haphazard combining dishes from meals here and there. As a blogger we are subjected such a variety of food that almost like an addict we still look for the initial Wow factor. Maybe that’s what Food Addiction can be rightly defined as.

We walked into the PDR room at Altitude to savor the “Inspire Me Chef” menu being recreated by Chef Yogender Pal and his team. The menu handed out to us was intriguing and had me excited right from the first glance. Of course the 8 hour braised Pork Belly on the menu might have had a lot do with the afore mentioned happiness.

An Amuse Bouche of Chocolate Macaroon with Chicken Pate #aboutlastnight

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We started off with a Clear Mushroom Tea soup. The robust flavor of the mushrooms gave a lovely flavor to the earthy broth. It was the Mushroom Ketchup Dumpling at the bottom which was a bit too sweet for my liking. After all this was an experimental menu and I was open to all possibilities.

Inspire Me Chef (1)

Among the appetizers were Vine Ripened Tomatoes with a homemade Buffalo Curd. It’s so incredible how much a freshly churned Buffalo Curd do magic to the flavor and aroma of a dish. Next up was the Crisp Chicken Leg on a bed of shrimp and bacon rice with a soya broth. This particular dish was a very Asian take on the Chicken and Rice served with a soya broth as street food across Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The crispy skin atop the Chicken Leg was just wonderful.

Inspire Me Chef (5)

Inspire Me Chef (4)

This is the point when the dining at Marriott took a whole another turn. I’ve had the chance to have numerous conversations with Chef Yogii and have known of his inspired dishes from Massimo Bottura to Manish Mehrotra which has been showcased in many of the dishes he puts up. And if you’ve ever had the chance to dine at Marriott, which you definitely should then you’d definitely notice the use of carnations bringing out the pop in color in the dish.

The Tomato and Cheese Tortellini was just what you’d expect but the stunner was the Rocket Pesto spread across the plate. A slice of the Tortellini with a dash of the pesto was delicious. Among the mains that I were sunning was the 8 Hour Braised Pork Belly. Now for a pork belly which has been braised for so long, that too finished off with a Jaggery Tamarind Glaze, there would be little things which can go wrong. The Glaze on top the Pork Belly especially had a nice sweet and sour touch of to it complementing it perfectly.

The tomato and cream cheese tortellini with a lovely rocket pesto

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Chef Ratheesh is a master craftsman when it comes to dessert. If you’ve had the chance to encounter having any of his fine work of arts that he displays at Marriott Hyderabad, you’d know of the elegance and finesse in his creations that I’m talking about. Titled “The Earth” he dessert was just beautiful arranged on the plate. Soon as you remove the top off you’d find Citrus Vanilla Mousseline, Sour Cherry Compote and Chocolate Soil with a hint of perfume.

Inspire Me Chef (3)

The Inspire Me Chef menu is one which should be high on your radar. The menu changes every Saturday and with Chef Yogi and his team, be sure to know that you’re going to get the best possible food.

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Copious amounts of beer, spirit of camaraderie and bonhomie, schnitzels, sausages and German recipes. Oktoberfest celebrations are here in town. Oktoberfest started in 1810 on the occasion of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese’s wedding and has since been a 16-day celebration in the town of Munich.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (14)

Altitude at Marriott Convention Center is hosting an Oktoberfest celebrations in the city with a whole range of German sausages, selection of beers and German dishes. With a live-band performance, it’s like a bit of merry-making from Bavaria to Hyderabad.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (16)

O’Zapft is

We got to sample a few of the brilliant Beer Cocktails and dishes at Altitude. Even though I’ve not been much of a Beer Cocktail guy and mostly enjoy my Beer as is, the Get Me Fresh was the refreshing cocktails that I liked quite a bit. A beer pot with tequila, vodka, rum, gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, syrup, fruits and bottled beer. This is one of those Beer pots you sit down with your mates around to drink along.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (18)

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (12)

The Suppens (soups) of the night were near brilliant. There was a Beer and Cheddar Soup and the other being a Bavarian Style Onion Soup with Thyme. Beer Battered Onion Rings, Sausage stuffed Jalapenos and Fried Potatoes with Poached Egg featured prominently among the Appetizers. The chefs at Marriott have taken the underlying theme of beer really serious with infusion in most of their Oktoberfest dishes.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (19)

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Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (13)

After all what’s German celebrations with the well-known German Sausages. Pork Curlies, Bratwursts, Nuremberger Sausages, Weisswurts, Pork Wursts and lots have been specially stocked for the Oktoberfest celebrations at Marriott.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (11)

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Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (10)

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (8)

Now moving on to the specialties that Altitude has come up in the spirit of Oktoberfest. I especially loved the Mushroom Pot done up beautifully in herb cream sauce with bread dumplings and the Beef Schnitzel.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (7)

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (6)

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (5)

Ending on a high note were the purely decadent desserts. An absolute, heavenly Beer Caramel Ice-Cream made in-house and the Black Forest Cheese Cake.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (2)

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (3)

It is time to say Prost!! at Altitude to ring in the Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest,Altitude Marriott (1)

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Right from the hills of Assam to the city of Hyderabad, Marriott Hyderabad is hosting a beautiful Assamese Pop-Up in association with Chef Kashmiri Barkakati Nath. I like the fact that Marriott is now experimenting with cuisines and delving into the unknown cuisines. With the Himachali Cuisine getting a platform the last time around, the Assamese food now gets a restaurant style arrangement with the “Khuwar Amez Louk” festival.

Assamese Cuisine has been slowly gaining much needed attention with people wanting to experiment with their palates. The cuisine is strongly influenced by ingredients which are readily available in the area while religion too has played it’s role. Lot of the cooking too involves food preservation and fermentation in their cooking.

The Assamese Food Festival at Bidri, Marriott Hyderabad features some amazingly delicious dishes. Honestly I had quite a gala time relishing each and every one of them with so much creative inputs that went into cooking by Chef Kashmiri. It is simple, homely and yet packed lots of flavors and complexity. The starter plate included quite a lot of variety.

Traditional Assamese Cooler

The Luci, Aloo Bhaji and Bilahi Ambol is usually the food with which the Assamese welcome guests at a wedding. The potato subzi was cooked into mustard oil and topped with a sweet and tangy tomato chutney. The Bhaat Karela is a deep fried teasel gourd with the one served at the food festival, given a twist of stuffing it with mashed potatoes. The Maas Khorika is skewers of boneless fish, served with a side of fermented mustard dip. The bhoot jholokia (ghost chili) gets a simple makeover on the appetizer plate served as a dip with bamboo shoots and kukura khorika which is an Assamese style chicken skewers.

Appetizers (1)

Pitha is an essential part of Assamese cuisines. These are snacks made using rice and come in various shapes and varieties. Many a festive occasions are celebrated by enjoying pithas on those days. Served on the appetizer plate at the Assamese Food Festival was the Anguli Pitha which is a savory finger-shaped rice flours which have been steamed and then fried.

Now once settled among conversations over the round of appetizers, I couldn’t wait to try the main courses. Served in a thaali, the main course at the Assamese Food Festival is humungous. It’s almost like a mini-Assam on a plate. Mixed a little of the Masoor Dal which had been cooked in bamboo shoots with the Joha Rice and it was pure heaven. It’s like I could leave everything aside at that moment and just have the rice and dal alone. The thaali also included Til Kukura, a preparation of chicken in sesame paste, Maangso Rongalou which is lamb cooked in a beautiful gravy with pumpkin and lots more.

Main Course Thaali

There no denying the Assamese love for pitika which is generally a mash. Along with the Dal and rice I relished on the Aloo Pitika (Mashed Potatoes) and Bengena Pitika (Roasted Aubergines in mustard oil and chilis) and also the Xaak Bhaji made with the local greens found in Assam. The Kukura Aloo Kurma is a slow cooked chicken cooked in curd and is primarily a Muslim dish. The traditional Maas Tenga gets a Chef’s special twist of cooking it almost like a roulade. I’ve always loved the use of elephant apple in dishes. The elephant apple is a seldom used fruit which gives a tangy flavor and in my home was used to make a sour and sweet pickle. The Maas Tenga is cooked in a tomato and elephant apple gravy along with ridge gourd.

The pithas make a comeback in the dessert section too. Assam has a whole lot of varieties of Pithas and in the featured dessert is the Narikol Pitha having a coconut filling. The Komolar Kheer (Orange Kheer) and Kola Bora Sawal Paiyox (Black Sticky Rice Pudding) rounded off the rest of the dessert section.

Desserts

Assamese food is simple and delicate. Considering the simplicity and also the relative exquisiteness of the cuisine, the Assamese Pop-Up is a must visit at Bidri is must visit.

The Food Festival is on for dinners only from 23rd to 26th June 2016.

You can also learn about many of the dishes on Chef Kashmiri’s Blog – Foodology By Kash.

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For readers who’ve been following us on our Instagram and Facebook page would have known of our recent travel to the beautiful country of Malaysia a few months back. Our travel diaries have been always about soaking in the local culture, devour street-food and flavors traveling the world…one country at a time. With the essence of Malaysian food aromas still fresh in our minds, it was an absolute delight to be back at the Marriott Hyderabad Convention Center for their Malaysian Food Festival in association with Tourism Malaysia.

It was a wondrous night starting off with a delish-looking plate of appetizers. The Chicken Satays got us absolutely knackered with a beautiful hint of lemongrass off the peanut sauce. I’ve had Rojak in Malaysia and already knew what to expect off the plate. The strong textures of umami were lacking in the rojak due to decrease in the usage of shrimp paste. Chef Ruizad has done a fantastic job with the dishes, having toned down some of the strong shrimp flavors coz of the local palette changes.

 

Appetizers Platter

The Ikah Goreng Berempah (Fried fish with Malay herbs) and Kambing bakar percik sos (roast lamb) rounded off to complete our appetizers. Special mention to Chef Ruizad’s make of the roast lamb which shone through all the beautiful spices it had been cooked in. I was actually so happy cutting through the roast lamb with my knife before sweet meaty indulgence.

Appetizers (3)

Appetizers (2)

In the main courses, the Sotong Sambal is something that diners from coastal India can identify with. The squid sambal was cooked in an exquisite sambal gravy, only wishing for the spiciness of the sambal to have increased up a notch. If the Thai have their red curries, then Malay cuisine gives it their won twist with the Curry Sayur. The Curry Sayur is a mixed vegetable gravy combining flavors from lemongrass and other fresh herbs. The curry shines through impressively when had with a simple white or jasmine rice. And yes not to forget a side of kobis goring kunyit berchili which is fried cabbage with chilis, very similar to Indian dishes.

Main Courses (1)

Main Courses (3)

Main Courses (2)

A sweet end to the meal was a refreshing dessert platter. The Badak Berendam and Pisang Goreng was a nice addition to the already vast dessert buffet menu at Okra.

Dessert Platter

The Malaysian Food Festival is on at Okra in Marriott Hyderabad Convention Center. It is part of their regular dinner buffet till the 29th of March. Also the Malay menu changes every night. Expect to find a whole lot of new dishes the second time around.

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There is seldom a time when a restaurant takes a step back into history, not with specializing in a cuisine but with style of cooking. We as Indians have varied different styles of cooking steeped in our history. From coal to firewood, stone to different styles of utensils. These form the premise at the ongoing “Stone and Wood Fire” food festival at Bidri, Marriott Convention Center.

Stone And Wood Fire Food Festival

For anyone who’s been to Bidri, sure would have experienced the durbar-like dining it offers. The mellifluous live classical music, the beautiful arches and even the lighting of the restaurant. The stone and coal has been set-up on the outer premise of the restaurant and the preparations starts at 5 PM. As the coal heat stabilizes and you’re ready with beautifully made dishes for your dinner.

Bidri

The menu is thoughtfully-crafted and covers the regions of India extensively. For the night we started off with the Yakhni Shorba. Soon as they poured the Yakhni Shorba in my bowl, the first to hit me was the lovely smell of the smoky infusion in the shorba. As I partake my first spoon, I knew this was one of those dishes I ain’t gonna stop raving about later. It was simply delicious and packed so much flavor in every spoonful.

Yakhni Shorba

The Pathar ka Gosht had been marinated for quite a while in raw papaya, spices and rose petals. Soon as the chef put it on the hot stone, the crackle and sizzle of the meat on stone was music to the ears. They say food is about satiating not the stomach alone, but the senses too. The Pathar ka Gosht did exactly that. The Matka Kebab was chicken mince packed in small mud pots and cooked over charcoal.

Appetisers At Bidri

It’s hard cooking quail coz of the size of the bird and also the tenderness of the meat. And over a char grill is even harder because you might just loose the moisture in the meat if not cooked uniformly at the right temperature. But the chefs at Marriott had done a great job with the Bhatti ka Bater. Marinated in yogurt and kashmiri chilis, the quail dish had been given it’s due.

Char Grilling

We had taken a walk to check the rows of utensils where the food had been cooking over the stone and coal. Everytime the Chef opened up the lid to serve, I couldn’t help smile at the amazing smell of the dishes that the air around was thick with. Personally I love a good Dum ki Nalli. You know that it’s a good Nalli dish simply running the gravy through your fingers. It’ll be sticky and yet leave no residue behind. The Dum ki Nalli at the “Stone and Wood Fire” festival was simply brilliant. With a side of butter naan or sheermal, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Cooking On Stone

Seldom have I seen chicken cooked with colocasia, but the Murgh aur Arbi ka Salan was an entirely new dish I got to experience. Marriott has always been proud of it’s Bidri Dal. Their take on the Dal Makhni, the Bidri Dal isn’t as heavy as the regular Dal Makhni though. The other dish to not give a miss is the Bharrey Aloo ka Korma. The potatoes in the gravy are filled with inside with spiced potatoes and nuts.

Kache Gosht ki Biriyani

For the desserts, we absolutely loved the Sheermal Pudding. It was innovation at it’s best by Chef Yogendra. A take on the Crème Brûlée, this gave the dessert a Nizami twist. The baked Gulab Jamun and Sitaphal (custard apple) Rabri were also terrific, but there was no denying that the Sheermal Pudding trumped it all.

Desserts At Bidri

The ‘Stone and Wood Fire Food Festival’ isn’t just about the dishes but the very dynamic nature of cooking that the chefs at Marriott took it upon them to come up with something like this. These age old techniques give food a more robust and beautiful flavor which is hard replicating in a kitchen. And we absolutely love the fact that here a platform is given to the style of cooking more than a particular cuisine or dish.

Chef Yogendra

The Stone And Wood Fire Festival is on at Bidri, Marriott Convention Center until Oct 17th, 2015.

Bidri - Marriott Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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