Pure decadence

While navigating choppy waters, the mind cannot help but row back to times when food worked as succor for the weary soul. Why is it always the case that some of our happiest memories are centred on food? All those heaped platefuls of biryani or overflowing bhaars of rosogulla never fail to bring a smile to the face and I’ll confess to kebabs accounting for the lion&’s share of a personal “Meals to Remember” catalogue. One from the list has to be the melt-in-the-mouth kebabs from Tunday Kebabi in Lucknow, and the memory of polishing off one helping after another of those little pillows of pleasure still lingers. But the City of Joy, by no means, falls short on the kebabs’ front, boasting quite a few eating joints famed for its meat on skewers.

Top of the line among them has to be Kebab-e-Que at the Astor Hotel — a mecca for kebab lovers in the city for almost the last three decades. Their succulent offerings have left patrons suitably replete with delight over the years and as a way of providing the best it has come up with an Endless Kebab Festival, which continues till 25 September. Executive sous chef Sumit Dhar says, “The festival is aimed at presenting an array of lip-smacking options from our kitchen.” And going by the variety, one cannot help but agree with him.

First, let&’s cast a glance at the vegetarian fare on offer. Dahi Ke Kebab (creamy seekh kebab made of yoghurt, roasted gram flour and assorted spices) is an eternal favourite and brilliantly rendered. Other options in this section would be Paneer Shashlik (paneer, onion and capsicum marinated with ginger and garlic, yoghurt and tikka masala) and Hara Bhara Kebab (cottage cheese, vegetables and spinach marinated with Indian spices), among others.

One is sure to be left spoilt for choice with the endless assembly line of decadent non-vegetarian kebabs. The Zaffrani Tangri Kebab (marinated with saffron, yoghurt and cinnamon) is to die for while the Murgh Malai Kebab (creamy chicken fillets flavoured with yoghurt and cashew nut paste) instantly transports one to gourmet heaven. For the options in mutton there&’s the Peshawari Barra Kebab (cinnamon-scented lamb shanks), a must-try as it is delightfully cooked with just the right proportion of meat and bone. The same can be said of the Gosht Panja Adraki (mutton flavoured with ginger, cashew nut, yoghurt and cardamom), which is a wondrous delicacy. The Mutton Boti Kebab and Seekh Adana Kebab are delicious spins on perennial favourites.

Fish lovers have no reason to feel left out as the Mahi Lasuni Machchi (cubes of fish cooked in garlic paste and yoghurt) will surely make one ask for seconds. Extremely flaky and astonishingly soft, they are pure bliss. There&’s also Naryaal Aur Pudina Jhinga (coconut and mint flavoured tandoori prawns) and Amritsari Maachi (pudina, dhaniya, bhuna besan and methi scented fish). And all the kebabs, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, are served with assorted Indian breads and dal makhani.

What sets the festival apart from others of the ilk is the fact that the kebabs are not served in buffet format but rather brought to the table, piping hot. And they keep coming! Lest one is wondering about burning a hole in the pocket, the vegetarian kebab platter is priced at Rs 500 plus taxes while the non-vegetarian one is Rs 700 plus taxes. Restaurant timings are from 12.30 to 11 pm.

About Jack K. Harris

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