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It was just a couple of months back that I was working closely with Chef Rakesh and Chef Srikanth of Kangan, Westin Raheja Mindspace for an article about the secrets of the Tandoor. The article was to be published in the Premier Starwood Online Magazine Momentum Travel. It was then that I was totally intrigued with the immense knowledge that Chef Rakesh had to share. You come across people in the hospitality industry who teach their trade and then there is the second kind. The kind of Chef who live and breathe their passion of food and Chef Rakesh belonged to this latter kind. More about the Secrets of the Tandoor can be read in the attached hyperlink.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (12)

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (6)

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (3)

With an invite for the Nawabs and Nizams festival, I was quite excited to catch up with the astounding dishes that the Chefs at Kangan were to put up. Starting with a marvelous soup of Shorba-e-Barkhus which had tinge of spiciness and refreshing aroma of mint in the lamb trotter soup. It was the Starters which were the highlights.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (9)

There were the succulent Kakori Kebabs which were so soft that they literally melted in the mouth. I quite liked that they’d kept with the tradition of serving the Kakori Kebabs with the Sheermals on the side as was the norm during the times. The Murgh Angare Tikka came along with a beautiful marination of the chicken on skewers in a whole lot of spices with bay leaves,mace, fenugreek leaves and chilies among others.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (8)

The one dish which quite left me puzzled and quite new too have experienced was the Ande ki Nazakat. It wasn’t just your usual eggs but egg whites which had been beaten, frozen and then cut into cubes. These cubes of eggs were then marinated in Indian Spices and then cooked in the tandoor.I can so imagine how hard it’d be to work a tandoor in such a case when cooking a egg in it. With the temperatures of the Tandoor reaching quite high, it takes a master to gauge the perfect cooking time o the eggs which would be just about a couple of minutes. In the end when served at our tables, it’s resemble more as cubes of Paneer than eggs.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (7)

The Tawa Machli which was served on our plates next had a bit of tanginess of lemon juice beautifully accentuated with a crush of curry leaves and spices. Among the vegetarian starters was the Hara Channa Aur Shakarkhand ki Tikki made of green chickpeas and sweet potatoes. The Mushroom Galawati rounded off our appetizers for the night as we took a short break for the main course.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (10)

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (11)

A while had passed and over some lovely conversations across the table, it was time for the main course. The Phaldari Kofta was a raw banana dumpling dish bringing with it the perfect balance in the gravy with sweetness from the cashews and sourness from the yogurt. It went well with the Naans served on the table. Also unique to the festival was the Dum ki Dhuli, which was white gram dal tempered with an exquisite aroma of onions and garlic.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (15)

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (14)

My favorite among the main course was the Gosht Badami which had been cooked in dum in a pot. The lamb morsels were so tender and soon as our server opened up the lid, out wafted a smoke resplendent of cloves. Also among the main courses for the night were some beautiful dishes like the Murgh Rizala, Bater Mussalam and Dum Aloo Bharwan.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (13)

Considering that the festival was showcasing both the best of Awadh and Hyderabad, the difference between the two princely states Biryani was a must. So along came the Awadhi Style Murgh Biryani and the Nizami Mutton Biryani. Talk about favoritism but I’m mostly inclined to the Nizami Style of Biryani than the Lucknowi version of the Biryani.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (1)

The night ended with a platter of splendid desserts. The Shahi Khubani Tukda was an unique attempt at bridging the gap between Awadh and Hyderabad with the sandwiching of the Shahi Tukda and Khubani ka Meetha. The apricots had been made into a compote placed between sweetened bread and topped off generously with reduced milk. The Yaquti was my favorite among the desserts which was a pudding made with white lentils.

Nawabs & Nizams, Kangan (2)

The Nawabs and Nizams Food Festival is on till 28th January 2017 at Kangan, Westin Hyderabad Raheja Mindspace for dinners.

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Casbah, the newest baby of Westin is an extension of the 2nd floor terrace. Taking the entry off the second gate, a quick zoom up the lift and they open to a Moroccan-inspired Casbah. The décor is done in white hues with shades of blue giving it a very Mediterranean look. Having a very Greek influence, it’s reflected in the color palette, texture and materials used in the designing of the arches.  It’s open on all ends and is absolutely beautiful to sit in on a breezy day and extremely relaxing.

Casbah Lounge

Hookah Parlour

Casbah

Casbah Decor (4)

Keeping in line with the theme, the food served here is Mediterranean. We were at Casbah on an exclusive invite to sample their menu. Considering that I had been there on the opening night of Casbah, I did know what to expect. I had been thoroughly impressed by the simple menu put forward by Chef Mukesh and Chef Rakesh at Casbah on the opening night and I couldn’t wait to try out the other delicacies on the menu.

Casbah Decor (7)

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It was a beautiful winter night and the night breeze was at it’s best. Starting off with a Fresh musk-melon frioska which was a lot fresh with generous amounts of mint. This was one night where I was in no hurry with my food. I guess Casbah’s environment made me feel that. It’s one of those places which relaxes you immediately and you just need to soak it all in.

Casbah Decor (15)

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Casbah Decor (12)

Casbah Decor (8)

We started off with the cold Mezze platter. Very few places get all the components of Mezze platter and Casbah did get every single detail right that night. The Hummus and Muhammara were brilliant with the pita breads. The Hummus with a light tanginess of the lemon juice and olive oil was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. The Labneh and Baba Ganoush was heavenly too. And especially kudos to getting the Baba Ganoush true to it’s roots with a light smoky flavor.

Cold Mezze Platter

Vegetarian Appetizer Platter

Spinach Fatayer

The menu at Casbah is small but well executed. I’ve always maintained that a short menu can sometimes do wonders for the guests than an elaborate one. Considering that Casbah sticks to the lounge concept, a two page menu was more than enough. The Chicken Souvlaki had been tossed in copious amounts of garlic and thyme. My favorite among the appetizers were the Chicken Sambousek and Kofte Kebab. Most of these dishes aren’t difficult to get right but it was the balance of flavors which struck the right chords. Paired with a good tazatski, the meat is rightfully balanced with the sourness of the condensed yogurt.

Non-Vegetarian StartersNon-Vegetarian Appetisers

The Samak Harra had been delicately grilled with sumac, loads of garlic and pepper. The star among the dishes we had at Casbah, the stand-out had to be the Chicken Tagine. The stew was delightful and distinctive but it was the cous cous which stole my heart mainly. It was simple, packed with light flavor and exquisite.

Chicken Tagine

Main Courses At Casbah

Main Course

Desserts is where Casbah’s other strengths lie. I’ve had the same desserts on two occasions at Casbah and they’ve maintained their consistency each time. The trio of Baklava is authentic and phyllo pastry is delicately made with a rich filling of walnuts, pistachios and other nuts. Even with the Umali, Casbah makes the pudding with puff pastry instead of succumbing to take the shorter route and using bread. And a rich rick double cream of top of Umali is sure to give you a dessert-high.

Desserts At Casbah

Casbah is artistic and sure worth the visit. It’s one of the few places in Hyderabad where you come out refreshed. Carrying with it a Mediterranean inspired décor, it’s going to leave you with a different view at sunset and another at night. The environment too goes a long way in making the Casbah experience even more enticing.

Casbah Decor (3)

Casbah Decor (11)

And they have some of the most beautiful chandeliers and lampshades hung around which add to the charm of Casbah.

Casbah Decor (1)

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Casbah Decor (16)
Casbah - The Westin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Each time I noticed my favorite character on TV puffing a huge round of smoke, off the thick end of a Cigar, it’d amaze me. “I’m definitely going to have one of those” I thought. I remember my first cigar had been along with a friend. It left me quite astounded (and also a little more of cough) by the size and amazed.  I mean have you ever seen the Godfather smoke a cigarette? Nope he lights up nothing else but a Cigar. A glass of his favorite cognac in one hand and meticulously moving smoking his Cigar as he finishes off matters for the day.

Rocky Patel Range Of Cigars

Then began my love for the Cigar. I haven’t smoked a lot many though as of now, but have had the fortune of experience a few of the good ones. Nothing better compliments a cigar than a glass of Cognac. There is the feeling of exclusivity of being part of the Cigar and Cognac club.

Henessey Cognac

So you can imagine how elated I was on being invited by Westin to be part of the Cigar & Cognac club that night. The invitation was for a select few of their patrons with the seating right beside a beautifully lit pool at Prego, and things picked off.

Henessey

Starting off the evening with a glass of Hennessy Very Special. As I gave it a light swirl, the waft fresh toast with roasted almonds lingered on lightly. I then got a subtle vine fruit aroma as I got the glass closer for my first sip. On the palate – the Hennessy Very Special brings with it a dimension of vanilla, all rounded off with an exuberantly fresh and floral finish. Now that the Hennessey had daftly cleared my palate, it was time to light up the Rocky Patel Vintage 1990. The Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 is a mild cigar which leans more towards the milder side. It has a nutty, kind of caramel essence. The Rocky Patel Vintage 1990 has been placed in the Top 25 Cigars of the Year by Cigar Aficionado’s.

Rocky Patel 1

Cigar Conexion

Now to my favorite Hennessey and that’s the Hennessy V.S.O.P. Many cognac aficionados prefer the Hennessy V.S.O.P for it’s strong flavors yet delicate notes. With the first fragrance you perceive spices like vanilla, clove and cinnamon. Then the delicately tossed notes follow, arising from the maturation in oak barrels. The Hennessy V.S.O.P is really smooth, harmoniously creating a blend of maturity and vigor.

Henessey Drinks

To give wondrous company to the Hennessy V.S.O.P was the Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve. It’s quite a thick cigar featuring the non-traditional wrapper leaf grown in grown in Costa Rica around a core of Nicaraguan & Honduras Tobaccos. These give it an earthy, almost leathery flavor with hints of coffee. It’s medium bodied with a fine balance of cedar, toast, coconut and cocoa bean. If lingers long enough, you can find a subtle finish of anise.

Rocky Patel Range of Cigars

The evening was well-spent over delicious tapas and conversation revolving around food, travel and a slight hint of politics thrown in the mix. Nevertheless the Cigar and Cognac Club by Westin opens up so many mediums, a group of exclusivity with discussions which can only happen over a glass of fine cognac and an occasional puff of smoke.

Tapas For The Night

Prego - The Westin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Traveling brings along lots of experiences. Tales to carry forward that you can tell others and for us, we surround those stories with food. The best part of those memories experienced is they can be refreshed when you encounter food similar to what you had during your travel to that particular location. The ‘Vividly Vietnamese’ food festival at Westin Hyderabad did something of that sorts.

Shredded Green Mango & Salad with Spearmint

A bowl of ‘Pho’ from the counter brought back a flood of memories of walking the streets of Hanoi Old Quarters, while sitting down on the small stools by the eateries and relishing some good old Pho. The lightness of the broth, the strong aroma of fresh herbs and subtle flavors was all that I needed for my fix at the Vietnamese Food Festival. Chef Nguyen Hung Thong from Sheraton Hanoi, who has a great deal of expertise on Vietnamese cuisine personally curates the entire experience.

Pho

The stand-out dish at the #VividlyVietnamese food festival at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace is the humble Pho. The broth packed a lot of flavor and the ingredients can be customised to your liking. Chef Thong Nguyen from Sheraton Hanoi has done a commendable job in putting out a fresh spread of Vietnamese to the already existing large one at Seasonal Tastes.

Posted by Food Drifter on Monday, 17 August 2015

Westin Hyderabad has always striven in bringing world cuisine on a plate at it’s all day dining restaurant Seasonal Tastes. There is something over there for everyone with an array of food ranging from Chinese, Indian, Live Wok and Grill Meat stations, Sushi and a huge range of desserts to end it all. But with the Vividly Vietnamese food festival I stuck to only the Vietnamese dishes on the menu.

Live Wok Station

Steamed Shrimps And Fish

No doubt the Pho was a favorite among us but the one dish which quite took me by surprise was the Banana Blossom & Shredded Free Range Chicken Salad. The ingredients were fresh, crisp and yet artfully flavorful. The banana flowers and bean sprouts provided the crunch and freshness as to what was an outstanding dish. I think the dish is close to the Chef’s heart – he came numerous times to our table to inquire how we’d like the Banana Sprout Salad specifically and it had won our hearts. The salad station was my favorite place that day with the fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Shredded Green Mango salad.

Sesame Flavored Vermicelli & Seafood Vegetables Salad

Banana Blossom & Shredded Free Range Chicken Salad

What shall be Vietnamese without the classic Pork Spring Rolls and they find a special place on the menu as well. The Vietnamese Wok stations has a variety of options providing access to various choices of chicken, prawns, squid, beef or vegetable. There is also the steam station available too and the prawns are steamed to perfection.

Steamed fish with soya sauce

After having gorged on the salads and steam station, I kind of had a little bit off the Main course. The Grilled Duck in Galangal was tad chewy and the galangal flavor too hadn’t penetrated the meat. The Steamed fish in Soya sauce is light and soft as you slice through. The vegetarian section of the main course had Deep Fried Bean curd with eggplant and Vietnamese Wok Fried Noodles.

Grilled Duck with Galangal

As I made my way to the dessert counter, I particular dessert struck my eye. The shiny little cubes of traditional Green Bean cake. It is a simple cake but the Vietnamese hold it very close to the heart and I loved having it with a strong coffee during my travel in Vietnam. Small assorted fruit candies that Chef Nguyen had brought in from his country also featured on the counter. But you might skip almost everything but leave some space for the Chilled Longan which have been stuffed with Lotus Seeds and immersed in syrup. They are nice, light and a delightful end to a meal. Chef Nguyen has carried some of the spices, ingredients from Vietnam to make sure we experience the authentic flavors right here.

Green Bean Cake

The Vividly Vietnamese Food Festival is on at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace from 14th – 23rd August 2015. It is a chance to experience a unique, authentic and extraordinary cuisine in the city.

Chef Huang Thong Ngyuen

Seasonal Tastes - The Westin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pizzas and Calzones, the quintessential Italian food achieves gourmet status in the kitchens of Prego, Westin at their ongoing food festival. We had a little tête-à-tête with Chef Maitreya Sen before we could dig into the amazingly delicious pizzas (the menu already had us drooling!!). The menu has been designed from his experiences of working with Classic Italian chefs during his tours of Italy giving each dish a little twist of its own. He further explains that when ordering a Calzone, one might expect the usual half-moon shaped dish but an element of surprise awaits once it arrives.

Pizza & Calzone Festival Menu

Now that had us excited. For a person who sometimes loves simplistic toppings on pizza,  I really can’t keep myself away from a good Margherita Pizza. It is one of the easiest, heavenly and also hardest comfort Pizzas to get right. And the flavors were bang on for the Pizza Pomodorini. The Marinara base was perfectly seasoned and the twist by Chef Maitreya were the addition of Cherry Tomatoes as toppings which give short bursts on the upper palate with each bite. The Bocconcini melts all over and the Basil gives it that necessary freshness.

Pizza Pomodorini

The La Pizza Secchi Pesto Di Pomodoro has a base sauce of sundried tomato pesto and finished off with Mozzarella, Artichokes, Olives and Bocconcini. The artichokes give it a mild smoky, nutty flavor but the freshness of the pesto could be a bit more intensified. After having the Pizza Pomodorini, this had a hard time following in the former’s taste-steps.

La Pizza Secchi Pesto Di Pomodoro

Calzones have always been a favorite. I mean Pizza dough with lots of stuffing of meats and cheese. Can anything sound even more heavenly? The Stromboli Pollo is a turnover with minced chicken, mascarpone, thyme and olives sealed in and fried. The filling was scrumptious but a little more mascarpone could have done wonders. The tangy hit of the Olives in certain places with every bite is absolute delish.

Stromboli Pollo

Now sneaking it’s way into the menu at the Pizza and Calzone festival are the lovely bits of Baked Ravioli Aperti. To understand the beauty of the Baked Ravioli, you’ll have to put yourself in a situation. A glass of the finest wine has been uncorked by the pool and you are one of those no fuss kind of eaters. The Baked Ravioli Aperti arrives and you put one of it in your mouth. The crunch and crackle of the Ravioli Base and the freshness of the open toppings, that’s what you call perfect company. The Raviolis have a range of toppings which include Garlic Chili Shrimp, Crab Avocado and Smoked Salmon.

Baked Ravioli Aperti

The Big Daddy of all pizzas on the menu was the Gli Amanti Della Carne Di Pizza, a meat lover’s delight. If you are that carnivore of all things meat, then this should be right up your alley. Lamb, Ham, Chorizo, Chicken, Tomato and Mozzarella (Phew!) is what awaits you with each bite. It’s so ‘molto delizioso’ that every hit on your palate is like thanking heavens for giving us meat on our plates. Chef Maitreya has done wonders with this pizza and it’s a whole meal in itself. If it’s the Pizza Pomodorini for the vegetarians, then the non-vegetarians should order this blind-folded.

Gli Amanti Della Carne Di Pizza

Everytime the mention of a double-crusted pizza and the thought wanders off to the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, which the Doppia La Pizza Crosta is not. It’s what the Pizzaiolos in Italy call a “Surprise Pizza”. Surprise in the pizza being that you never know what is going be the filling inside. But the Double Crust Pizza Pie at Westin packs in a delightful filling of broccoli, artichokes, olives, jalapenos and sundried tomatoes.

Doppia La Pizza Crosta

Chef Maitreya has done a wonderful job at creating a menu so exquisite. Good gourmet pizzas are hard to come by in the city and this is brings in the welcome change. His vast experience speaks through the menu and craftsmanship with the wood-fired oven.

Chef Maitreya Sen

The Pizzas And Calzones Festival is on at Prego from 19th – 30th June. Till then Ciao and a cheesy goodbye.

Address: Prego, Westin Hotel, Mindspace, HITEC City, Hyderabad, Telangana
Phone: 040 6767 6828

Prego - The Westin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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