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The taste of Punjab

RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT BUZZ

India is known for its varied cuisines. And while the specialities of each state cannot be replicated, a number of hotels and restaurants attempt to give their customers a taste of India’s regional cuisine.

To give the locals and expats a feel of the rich culinary traditions of Punjab, Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, Cavelossim hosted a Punjabi Food Festival which will conclude on January 25.

Held at the resort’s all-dining restaurant Kebabs and Kurries, the soft Punjabi beats in the background and the warm ambience are the perfect companions to pair your meal with.

Our meal began with the soup. And I tried the surkh tamatar dhaniya shorba, a simple soup made of tomatoes and Indian spices, that was really yummy. Although, I must add that as I’m not a fan of spicy food, I did find it a tad pungent.

Next up, we were served an array of delicious meat and vegetable starters that included the dahi ke kebab that gives you a tinge of that creamy dahi taste along with roasted cashew nuts.

For veg lovers, among other vegetarian items, is the pindh waley paan ki kumbh, that is paan-flavoured stuffed mushrooms and the Balwinder chache ki dukan se – makai aur akhroot ke seekh, that is simply a vegetable skewer infused with corn kernels and chopped walnuts. In the non-vegetarian section, on the other hand, there is the mahi dariya dumdaar and the oye papaji – kukad chandi tikke, delicious chicken cubes marinated in royal cumin marinade, char-grilled and later finished on dum. I’m usually a picky-eater when it comes to non-vegetarian food. However, when I tried one of their signature chicken appetisers, the murg chandni tikka – grilled to perfection, with just the right amount of spice – I managed to finish an entire piece. And if I can like it, I’m certain you will too.

Moving on to the main course, there are some great vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, such as paneer palak, aloo dum Punjabi, sarson ka saag aur makke ki roti, aaj ki taazi bhuni subzi, dal makhani, etc; and butter chicken, Kashmiri mausi k ghar se – mutton rogan josh, tandoori paaplet, and more in the non-vegetarian section. I tried the paneer palak, peas pulao, dal makhani, and dhaniya kulcha. All in all, it was simple and tasty food.

Finally, from the desserts menu, we were served the Gulkand phirnee that had sweetened dried rose petals infused in slowed-cooked rice. And while I liked it, the rose petals were annoying.

There were a bunch of refreshing mocktails, cocktails and hot beverages, too, along with traditional Indian coolers, like the kullar di meethi lassi, chatty di lassi and shikanji.

Being a Punjabi Food Festival, I expected a chilled glass of lassi as the welcome drink – however, I was disappointed. Instead, we were served tender coconut water – a random choice.

(The Punjabi Food Festival is being held at Kebabs and Kurries, Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, Cavelossim. Lunch starts from 12:30 p.m. to 3p.m. and dinner from 7:30 p.m.to 10:30 p.m.)

We learned that chef de cuisine, Ajay Thakur along with executive chef, Jerson Fernandes at Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, Cavelossim, travelled all the way to the various villages of Punjab, met the locals, studied the ingredients and sharpened their cooking techniques and service styles to curate the menu for the festival. “The idea was to serve a slice of the real Punjab in amchem Goem,” said Fernandes who has designed the wide array of the menu for patrons. Thakur told NT BUZZ, “Punjabi cuisine and culture is quite diverse and well-known around the globe. The whole idea of doing this was to bring back old methods of cooking, traditional ancient lost recipes and the way Punjabi food was served in the copper thalis, clay pots or cups on charpais and wooden tables etc.”

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