Aurangabad is best known for being a former military base during Aurangzeb’s rule and most of the cuisine,food and cooking technique centre around this historical aspect of the area.
As security and secrecy were of key importance during the time, cooking on large flames or open fires was avoided specially at night.
Under these circumstances,the style of Slow Cooking and the Tandoor came to the forefront. Cooking took place over a span of 8-10 hours and these local techniques and methods exist to this day.
The ITC Grand Central, through their ongoing Aurangabad Food Festival have brought all these rustic flavours and spices from the roots of our state directly to Mumbai.
The lavish spread features traditional dishes like Manda Gosht, Naan Qualiya,Kheema Khichdi,Muthhi Kebab and Aurangabadi Shammi Kebab.
We began our meal with some delicious Mutthi Kebabs. These kebabs consist of finely minced lamb shaped by hand or ‘Mutthi’ in Hindi and cooked directly in a griddle of hot oil. The kebabs are soft, have great consistency and melt in your mouth and vanish in no time at all!
This was followed by the delicious Murgh Boti Kebabs that were cooked to perfection in a Tandoor. The meat was tender and juicy and the flavours were well balanced with a combination of spices directly from the kitchens of Aurangabad.
The Aurangabadi Shammi kebabs served as a good option for the vegetarians. It consisted of a mix of vegetables mashed together. This was definitely more spicy than the other kebabs but was soft,flavourful and had great texture.
The salad section had an assortment of unusual fusion salads. The Zafrani Gosht salad with crisp roti is a cold meat salad with Indian spices and the combination of crunchy flatbread alongside was definitely a hit.
Most of the food of the region used slow cooking techniques and is served after hours of being cooked.
The food of the era and region has been known to be cooked in generous quantities of Ghee.
It is beleived that a dish was not appreciated unless it was covered by a layer Desi Ghee.
Although the chef is aware of the health conscious people of today’s date and time he believes that food must always resonate its roots. To maintain the authenticity of the recipes he has prepared the food in fresh Desi Ghee and every bite of the gravies prepared by him are without doubt Delicious!
The dish of the evening and definitely the most fascinating and enthralling of all was the Mande Gosht.
A thick and rich gravy, with meaty and spicy flavours is accompanied by the famous Mande.
Mande is a roti, much like the roomali roti in thickness but about 5-6 times its size!
It is prepared by skilled chefs on a Massive Tava that has to be customized for its preparation.
One Mande roti is about the size of an umbrella enough to feed about 10 people!
It has a rubbery and elastic texture and goes beautifully with the Mutton Gravy.
The Naan Qualiya was another extraordinary delicacy of Aurangabad.
This dish different from the one above had a delicately spiced and thin gravy and is meant to be served with Naan.
The naan quickly soaks up the gravy and together they are a match made in heaven!
The Kheema Khichdi was something rather unusual. Not like your usual khichdi but not a biryani either. Mildly spiced and loaded with minced lamb this rice preparation did justice to both the lamb and the beautiful rice grains.
Easy on the stomach and delicious on the palate, this was definitely one of my favourites.
The menu also consisted of various vegetarian dishes like the Subz Quorma and Subz Biryani.
The Bhindi Masala was an absolute must try. Fresh and beautiful Green Bhindi cooked only as much as it should amidst some delicious Masala’s!
The masala’s we’re spicy and tangy and absolutely spot on.
You can end your meal on a sweet note with the delicious Jalebi and Rabdi. This dessert is traditional of Aurangabad and is on the Menu specially for the festival.
Apart from this there is a wide assortment of desserts including Chocolate Mousse cups, custards, mouse,cakes and fruits.
The authenticity of the menu truely left me very impressed and the rustic methods of cooking employed transported me to Aurangabad itself.
The fest is on until the 28th of February,2016 and is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy authentic local cuisine.
Review by Sanskaara Lalwani