SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
The food festival, ‘Zaika Purani Dilli’ at Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, Cavelossim reflects the street food ambience of Old Delhi. The set up of traditional village beds or ‘khattiya’ and a street cart to prepare beverages for the festival gives the feel of being in North India. From the food to the beverages, the resort’s Indian restaurant, Kebabs & Kurries has recreated the menu focusing on the authentic dishes of Purani Dilli.
I was welcomed with a drink, a summer speciality – ‘Aam Panna’ made of raw mango. As I took my seat in the restaurant, I was treated to a refreshing mocktail ‘Kerry Nojito’, a gentle drink prepared of raw mango (‘kairi’ in Hindi), mint and lemon that balanced the warm temperature of summer and spice-based Indian meal of Old Delhi.
The culinary tour of Delhi started with ‘chatpata’ Chawari Bazar Ki Bhalla Papadi Chaat. Soft potato and lentil dumpling with savoury papadi are the main ingredients of this dish flavoured with common Indian spices and chilled yogurt. Another similar chaat Chikki Gali Ki Tikki makes a great quick-bite evening snack for those who opt for potato tikkis with a dash of tangy tamarind chutney.
Meanwhile, chef Sachin Talwar told with me about his specialties. Born Punjabi and having visited the streets of Old Delhi several times, he is fond of cooking North Indian delicacies. The festival menu is his way of fulfilling his nostalgia for the streets of Old Delhi. He has named every dish on the basis of lanes where these dishes are found or the chefs who prepare and sell them on the streets there.
While the chef was just heading to the kitchen, the waiter plated the Riaz Bhai Ka Fried Chicken for me. It was only when I had my first bite that I realised the need to use my fingers to clean the delicious fried chicken. They quickly gave me a bib and I satisfactorily dug into the succulent chicken that was crisp fried to perfection in the batter of gram and rice flour. I thoroughly enjoyed using my fingers to finish my favourite appetizer. In fact, Chef Sachin informed that they will ask their customers to eat without cutlery. Another dish Ganesh Lal Ki Machchi is the delicacy with almost same flavours as Riaz Bhai Ka Fried Chicken. However, the sole fish lent its unique flavour to the dish; the fish was cooked just right (neither tough nor soft) and marinated with mild spice.
I was surprised by the way mutton was minced to prepare Bhatti Ki Seekh of Old Delhi, presented to us on metal skewers with the coal still sizzling. Despite not being a big fan of mutton, I loved the soft and juicy seekh kabab. The amount of spices used to prepare this dish is the highlight of this kebab. Only when I finished chewing up the bite, I realised how spicy it was, but I took pleasure in it, especially when I dipped the kebab in manually-pounded cilantro chutney. That was yummy!
Purani Dilli Butter chicken was not the red that we find usually in Goa, but it was pure orange. I learned from Chef Sachin that traditionally butter chicken gets its colour from the tomato puree. The dish tasted of tender spices. I could feel that chef generously poured in the required amount of butter to make it the most tempting main course. Eating this chicken rolled up in the piece of Nukkade Wale Chur Chur Naan was the tastiest combination ever. The semolina used to make this naan leaves a crunch to it.
I was just done with the main course when I was treated with the famous dessert, Matka Phirnee. It was tightly packed in the cute mataka. This ‘Indian pudding’ was topped generously with almonds and pistachios. It was sweet but not sugary. The earthern freshness could be felt and tasted in the Phirnee that I ate for the first time.
Before having a meal of ‘Zaika Purani Dilli’, I expected the delicacies to be spicy and heavy. Ironically, despite tasting so many dishes I felt light, perhaps that’s chef Sachin’s secret of serving heavy dishes in a light twist for this festival that is taking place in the Goan summer. Foodies can try out the combination of different chutneys and onions topped with a secret kebab masala served with every dish on their table.
(Food Festival ‘Zaika Purani Dilli’ will be on till May 10 at Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, Cavelossim from 7 p.m. Open for dinners only.)