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Taste of royalty comes to Panaji

Alisha Nicole Carvalho

Awadhi cuisine has made its way to the heart of city in the form of The Awadhi House. And for those who are puzzled by the name of this cuisine, it is the food that was once eaten by the Nawabs of Lucknow.

Located on Dr Dada Vaidya Road, the restaurant has been chiselled from an old house. As you climb up to the door and enter the lobby one is transported to a bygone era. The lavishly decorated lobby section is draped in hues that reflect grandeur and is accented with artworks that provide a snippet of Awadhi history.

While you ascend towards the next level, there is a dining section on the left, on the way to which is a wonderfully restored and functioning accordion which adds to the overall charm.

The next level is the bar level named SHAUK. The enthusiastic barman has on offer quite a few unique cocktails. The two cocktails that come to mind are the Paan ki Dukan – garnished with a betel leaf, it is a cocktail that is sure to titillate paan lovers, while Our Story is a mix of dark rum, turmeric, saffron and other ingredients and garnished with apple slivers.

The level above the bar is called the party floor. Since it is situated on the highest floor, guests can be guaranteed privacy for specials events. The sections on this floor can accommodate around 14 to 16 people while one of the smaller sections is good enough for a group of eight. Guests can decide on a set menu or dive right in for ala carte.

As we made our way down to the bar level, the informative frames adorning the walls displayed a timeline of the various names by which Awadh was known.

Once seated at the table you are given a tiny dish of water and napkin to cleanse your face and prepare yourself for the meal, and then its show time. First come the condiments – a mildly spiced papaya relish, laccha pyaaz and mint chutney. The first item we sampled was the light and interesting Dahi Ke Kebab, which was a yoghurt shammi made of hung curd, green chilies and ginger. The other vegetarian appetiser on offer was the Aloo Najakat.

Then came the delectable non vegetarian offerings starting with the Galouti Kebab. Everyone is familiar with this kebab, but the kebab here is probably one of the best of its kind within the state, dare I say. Served on a tiny flat bread, the meat was almost pounded into a paste which made it melt in the mouth.

A dish unique to The Awadh House is the Tangdi Kulfi. This appetiser comes wrapped in a banana leaf which when unwrapped displays succulent meat in a rich creamy sauce. The elaborate Murgh Angara came next in a mini tandoor with skewers and all. Although it reminded me of a chicken tikka kebab, it was in a league of its own. The first course ended with tender lamb chops called Awadhi Barrah Chops, these were flavoured in roasted cumin.

Amidst a great conversation came the mains. Murgh Musalam, the delicious portion of minced chicken and tandoori chicken in an aromatic gravy was wiped off the plate with some of Indian bread on offer – one can select from the tandoori roti, naan, Kulcha Kashmiri and paratha. The second non vegetarian main was the Nizami Raan. The flavour of the meat came through in this mildly spiced dish and it was relished by my companion. We also tried the Dal Awadh which was a rich and comforting lentil stew.

The restaurant has a few biryanis too and among these are the Gosht Matka Dum Biryani, Murgh Matka Biryani, and the Subz Dum Biryani.

The cherry on top of what was a great evening was perhaps the desserts! Gulab Jamun with Rabdi, the very unique and heavy Gulab Halwa which is made from rose petals, dried fruits and khoya and another paan-based item – Paan Barfi. Although the halwa stole the show, the barfi is what remains etched in my memory purely for its flavour and the skill with which it was made.

The splendour with which it is decorated, the great service and impeccably curated menu that is prepared by a team from Lucknow make for a wonderful dining experience, and for those looking to feast like the royals of yore, The Awadh House is the place to head to!

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