Express News Service

KOCHI: Indian cuisine, with its complex flavours and mouth-watering aromas, is always a delight to explore. Though the land is known for its diverse regional cuisine, Hyderabadi and Rajasthani, the two royal cuisines, stand out for their extravagance and interesting combination of local flavours.

Bringing the best of these two worlds is the ongoing food fest, ‘The Great Indian Odyssey’ at Avenue Regent on MG Road, Kochi. Upon entering the space, staff, donning multi-coloured pagaris (turban), welcomes one to the buffet, arranged neatly on one side. Executive sous chef Biju K K is visibly excited to have introduced the culinary culture of both places to Kochi. “Both places can cater to the taste palates of vegetarians and non-vegetarians. When Hyderbadi boasts rich non-veg dishes, Rajasthani tops with the intricacies of the desert state’s homely food,” says chef Biju.

To start off, the chef offered Jal Jeera, the tangy coolant drink that is probably the right beverage to have before delving into what the Nawabs and Rajputs have to offer. As starters, the chef brought out fish tikka, which was followed by an equally compelling seekh kebab infused with herbs and spices.

As veg options, there was aloo adrak tiki and an interesting fusion of paneer and dried fruits as an appetiser. The mild taste of the slightly roasted paneer balanced well with the instant sweetness of dried fruits. The chef then gave me a culinary tour of the must-haves of Rajasthan. “For Malayalis who prefer North Indian dishes, Rajasthani cuisine perhaps has the most enticing options,” adds Chef.

The food of Rajasthan is also shaped by its geographical features and availability of resources. The scarcity of water prompt people to use oil, buttermilk, and ghee instead. The state’s classic signature dish is Daal Baati Churma. The Baati is cracked open and filled with chopped onion, tomatoes, coriander and dal.

The bread is fried for 40 minutes in ghee, giving it a crispy texture. Next came Ker Sangri. Ker, a seed that is tangy and peppery, is mixed with sangri, a long bean. This mixture is then soaked in buttermilk for long hours. After straining, it is then sauteed in ghee.

Gaate ki kadhi is another staple. It is primarily made with steamed and lightly fried gram flour dumplings. The tangy gravy made with tomato, buttermilk, and spices is best enjoyed with rice. The other dishes included gobi makhana, sev tomato ki subzi.

Moving to Hyderabadi cuisine, I tried the classic Hyderabadi biryani and raan. The pieces were so delicate due to the dishes’ long hours of cooking. Chingri malai curry, subzi nizami handi are some other attractions.  

After a mutton-laden round, the chef insisted on trying the sweet and tangy Raj Kachori and Dahi puri. After having the super crunchy chaat, I decided to end the culinary ride with Rajasthan’s special Laapsi, whose mild sweetness balances well with milk, nuts and dried fruits. The fest concludes on October   15.

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