When it comes to Indian cuisine, most people don't know the difference between Punjabi, Lucknowi or Hyderabadi! How different can the tikkas, kababs and biryanis be, is the common question! It takes a true connoisseur to know the difference between the rich and elegant taste of a mutton curry from one region compared to the spicy and oily flavour of the same from another.
My knowledge of Indian cuisine went up by several notches after a dinner at Handi. Frankly, the menu did not reveal anything too unusual– kababs, daals, biryanis and paneer dominated but the difference lay in the taste and flavour. Chef Mohammed Rasheed Quraishi, who takes immense pride in his culinary cultural roots that date back to the Mughal days, took us on a wonderful journey explaining the unmatched sophistication of Awadhi cuisine over its other regional counterparts.
We began with a chaat – aloo mutter ki tikki. The yoghurt, mint and tamarind chutney could not hide the aroma of ghee in which the tikki had been perfectly fried to lend it a crisp exterior. Then came the kabab platter – rich, melt-in-the-mouth and flavourful murg tikka husseini, kasoori malai kabab and seekh kabab reignited my broken love affair with kababs.
It was the main course that was the absolute treat, especially the heavenly gosht korma Awadhi, Handi's award-winning signature dish that combined boneless mutton, cashew nuts and almonds in light onion gravy. The beauty of this curry was the smooth blend of spices with the rich ingredients.
And then came the pice de rsistance – the biryani! Once again, I was pleasantly surprised at the lightness and flavour – the result of a unique preparation where the spices had been cleared from the rice after extracting their essence.
The meal could have gone on but for our tummies that were to ready to burst! A ras malai was the final call of a dinner that introduced me to new facets of north Indian cuisine. Indeed, it's food that a Nawab would approve of!
WHERE: Taj Palace Hotel, Deira
OPENING HOURS: Open daily noon-3pm; 7pm-11.30pm
CONTACT: 04 211 3020