Friday, April 30, 2010

Fortune favors the ‘foodies’

We happened to get in touch with a chef who we had not seen for many years…and like all foodies the topic focused on food. ‘Well Goa has many ‘good food’ outlets,’ I comments sagely, ‘you name the cuisine, we have it.’ ‘But one thing I remember from my trip to Delhi is the North West Frontier cuisine,’ Joe remarks, ‘that is one thing that would be a bonus here.’

Chef Inder…for that was his name, smiles mysteriously and asks us to come over to this hotel-the Fortune Select Regina at Candolim. Now we had seen the elegantly lit façade of this spanking new property and we were intrigued at the thought of visiting it. Part of the ITC chain of hotels – the Fortune Select brand, I spent the night dreaming of the famous Bukhara restaurant in Delhi. Everyone must have heard of is even listed in Wikipedia quote ‘The Bukhara restaurant is designed with stone walls, wooden pillars and cushion-covered stools at mock log-top tables. It has an open display kitchen, where meat and vegetables hang from swordlike kebab spears. The restaurant serves cuisine from the North-West frontier of Pakistan prepared in a clay ‘tandoor’ oven with a special emphasis on kebabs. In a bid to encourage diners to savor the restaurant’s kebabs with their hands, cutlery is withheld and aprons are provided.’

‘Are you aware that their world famous Dal Bukhara is said to be cooked for days to get the perfect taste and consistency.’ I ask Joe as we drive across scenic fields to reach there, ‘celebrities are known to get that stuff packed in bottles and consume it for days after- I heard that Kareena Kapoor does so…’ My better half gives a grunt. He is not interested in what celebrities do…he is looking forward to his own experience.

We enter an elegant foyer and move towards the poolside area where tantalizing aromas assail our nostrils. It is the area outside their Orchid restaurant, a classy stylish room. Now this area is where the Bar-be-que is normally held every evening. However these kebabs could be had in the restaurant too. Attentive staff move forward to cater to our needs…a chilled cocktail for Joe, condensation on its side, ice tinkling as the straw moves with the breeze.
The accompaniments are put on the table…’Dhaba chutney’ I am informed - A novel idea of coriander base and spicy tomato chutney. And then starts the ‘kebab bonanza’…I say bonanza because it was raining kebabs…..

First the ‘Mutton Goulati kebab’, now this delectable Awadhi delicacy is something that could have even the Shah-en-shahs of yore begging for more. Soft and melting…the flavour oozes into your senses, your salivary juices churning overtime to meet the demand…cause you will be spooning more of that preparation into your oral cavity. ‘who is behind this creation,’ I croak finally…and we were just on the first preparation of the evening. Inder smiles as he remarks that the two chefs Sandeep Kumar and Hafeez Ahmad Qureshi had worked in Kebab Factory and Bukhara.. Aha! I reached for the second platter…did I not say fit for the Kings, intricately designed and presented….Murg ke pasande. Now I believe it is all in the name…I will add the word ‘Bhuna’. Because of the marinade. Of course the secrets will all remain with the chef but this ‘chic’ has curd, cheese, cream, cardomon. Shahjeera, saffron…and marinated twice, before being put in the tandoor. The 'kadak' tandoori rotis that the waiter brought to the table as the ‘accompaniment’ were crisp and the 'kulchas' were mouthwatering melt in the mouth types but the innovative Ulta Tawa ka Paratha had us scrambling for more. While we were still grappling with the ‘taste enhancing chutneys’ the Chowk ki tikki (vegetable kebabs stuffed with green peas) and the Paneer Dudhiya Seekh (paneer Rolls) made its presence felt.

Now if anyone had this wrong notion that North West Frontier food preparations were exclusively for the non vegetarians they have not come in touch with these innovative chefs. If Chowk ki Tikki was stuffed with graan peas, the Subz Shikampuri Kebeb had cheese dripping with every bite. Oh…La…la. And if innovations were the ‘focus’ of the night their Dahi ke kebab (hung curd which is deep fried) is something to be tried. Move over you celebrities…you have not tried the Spice Dal….that is the signature Dal of this place, like the bukhara Dal is to Delhi….it is a royal treat and an authentic slow cooked delicacy. Served piping hot it was the tadka that makes for a gastronomic flavour that can only be experienced and not described.

I look across at Joe who had been silent throughout the meal, only exercising his jawbones…did he miss the ‘Bukhara experience.’ Perhaps we asked the question out loud. As the desserts reached the table,,Rose flavoured Rasagullas, Kalakhand…yes there is an assortment of continental desserts too, but I was too stuffed to try it his comment of ‘Fortune is what really makes the entire exercise a treat for hungry foodies,’ was the ‘bulls-eye’ response..

Address: Fortune Select Regina 376, Fort Aguada Road Candolim Bardez
Phone - +91 832 3988444

Highly Recommended: Kebabs and Dal


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