Friday, 14 March 2014

Dining like Royalty at the Aminabadi Food Festival.

    First things first, a bit of good news for my dear readers. I finally realized that it was high time to include reviews for the non vegetarian food at all the events I attended, because I couldn't bear to deprive you of all the deliciousness that goes unnoticed by me. So behold, our new family member and co - blogger (specifically for your carnivorous desires) my BFF, sister from another mother - Vipasha. She will be handling all the non vegetarian reviewing for this blog henceforth! :D
    I was super excited for the Aminabadi food festival, which is being held at JW Marriott Mumbai's Indian cuisine restaurant Saffron, from the 16th of March to the 23rd of March; Because, not only do I love Indian food, but having the opportunity to eat food that was prepared by the 4th generation of the famous Qureshi clan, was something I simply couldn't let pass.
    To start off, I would want you to take in the ambiance and feel of the place. It was very tastefully done up, with perfect lighting and helped us get into the mood to enjoy our dinner well. P.s. They actually used beautiful 'baalis' as napkin holders. :O I'm going to steal this idea for one of my dinner parties for sure! 

White Lilies are my most favorite flowers ever. 
The street of Aminabad is best known for its delicious kebabs. Saffron gave us a mouthwatering course of kebabs. The first serve and the dish of the day was the Galouti Kebab. Marinated, minced lamb, with the right amount of spices, it melts in your mouth at the first bite. They served it on top of tiny pieces of tawa paratha which reminded me of the dish pigs in a blanket, though it doesn’t quite look like that. We could spice it up with either green chutney or yogurt or slightly fried onions in coriander seeds
Shaan-e-Awadh or Shammi Kebab was similar to Galouti except that it was made in chicken instead of lamb. There were two tikkas, one Akbari Murg Tikka, which was chicken, marinated in yogurt and smoked cheese and the other one was Shaan-e-Tandoor. It was a similarly prepared dish with Salmon. Soft, tasty and not too fishy either.

The Akbari Murgh Tikka

The salmon
The Galouti

The vegetarian fare that was served included Mushroom Galouti - the same kebab made out of mushrooms instead of meat mince. Delicious, though its texture felt a little weird because it was surrealistically smooth. Followed by the Bharwan Shahi Paneer Tikka - which was a class apart. Thick pieces of paneer stuffed with kasoori methi to be had with mint chutney. 

The Mushroom Galouti
The Paneer Tikka

Then came the most awaited dish of the evening, the NalliNihari. It’s a classical Lucknowi lamb shank preparation and was finely cooked but with a lot of oil. I actually got the shank piece and it was absolutely yummy. The oil seemed to add to the taste and the falling - off bone tenderness.

The Nalli Nihari

Then there was the Kate Masale Ka Murg which was chicken in onion gravy with other spices. I am a chicken lover, but the Awadhi cuisine is famous for its lamb preparations, and I would suggest that you order the lamb dishes because they are far more superior to the chicken ones. In my opinion, you will get the authentic feel of Awadhi food better, if you stick to the red meat dishes. 

The Kate Masale ka Murg
On the vegetarian side, we had Lagan ka Paneer which was cottage cheese cooked in a rich think gravy of browned onions and cashew. The paneer was absolutely fresh, soft and well marinated. The spices weren't over powering. All the curries and main course dishes were served with Ulte Tawe ki Roti, Tawa parathas and other different kinds of Indian bread.

The Paneer and Ulte Tawe Ki Roti

However, the star of the main was the Dal E Khaas - which are black lentils simmered for 24 hours, finished with cream, butter and fenugreek. This was pure heaven in a bowl. Rich, creamy and indulgent, with spices and flavors running in multitudes of undertones. This is a must have if you ever visit Saffron. One piece of warning - it is very heavy, so be sure to order something light to accompany. One bowl of this dal, and you shall be transported into a state of tummy - filling bliss.

The Dal E Khaas

 Now for what I think should be called one of India's national foods. The Dum biriyani which is supposed to be an invention of the bawarchis of the Royal family, was fit for a king. Made in Basmati rice, it had the perfect flavours of saffron, garam masala and ginger-garlic along with fresh, well-seasoned mutton pieces. The vegetarian version was aromatic, bright, with each grain of basmati infused with the Kewra essence. This was the Awadhi Biryani; not to be confused with the Hydrabadi one -which has mint, curd etc. Personally speaking, I usually feel that mint is only meant to add some spunk to refreshing drinks, and shouldn't be used in food. The Awadhi Biryani was my favorite dish when it came to the mains. 
Chef Qureshi told us all about the culture of Awadh and its food. How it has been a part of his childhood and upbringing and how the spices were the stars of Awadhi cooking.

The Lamb Biryani

The Vegetable Biryani
Chef Qureshi joined us at the table for a little chat.

Finally it was time for dessert and I couldn't wait to try the two specialties- 
Jamun - E - Nazaakat which is the Gulab Jamun generously doused with thick luscious Rabri 
and the Mewe Ki Kheer which is the quintessential Indian rice pudding flavored with cardamom, saffron, dry fruits. Both were cooked in pure ghee, which any foodie can tell you, catapults its aroma to another level all together.  The mistake I made was to taste the Gulab Jamun before the Kheer, as it is a subtler than the former. So my taste buds were incapacitated when we came to the latter. So I decided to talk about the gulab jamun and let Vipasha stick to the kheer for a better review. 
The kheer was heavenly, made in fragrant, well cooked rice and had the ideal amount of sugar and milk, all nicely presented with strings of saffron on the top. It's consistency was thick and not sludgy with the appropriate amount of dry fruits and cardamom flavor.
 The gulab Jamun, in my opinion, is the king of desserts. My only complaint was that It was too small a portion for someone with a sweet tooth as big as mine :D It was soft, perfectly browned and sweetened with just a dollop of Rabri. One word- Flawless.

Anyone who loves classic Indian food - hearty, filling, warm and rich, absolutely must pay Saffron a visit before the festival ends. You might just bump into me there. I'm pretty sure I'll be going there for the Biryani and Gulab Jamun once again :D 

Lastly, please do drop me a comment below telling me whether you like the new change of including non vegetarian review. Whether you would like to see some other change. Or just drop in to say Hi!

Until next time then,
Cheers! :)


  1. Dear Vipasha, nice review. well done - Regards, Indraneel Benadikar

  2. Great Analysis... Very interesting to read.... whenever u happens to be in Lucknow, just try the most authentic Awadhi royal food from Biryani Inn , they have simply awesome , non greasy Dampukht Biryani, their Awadhi Murgh qorma is to just die for. They also have typically and origional Awadhi Murgh Musallam and Lipssmaking shami and kakori kebabs plus huge variety of lucknowi rotis like taaftan. The onli negative aspect is that they are into Home delivery only, many of my friends carry their biryani to mumbai also , they deliver in very think plastic micro safe boxes which is safe to carry in flight. Regards.. Nisha Lal..

  3. Wow Nisha, the taaftan sounds amazing!! Shall certainly keep this info in mind whenever I have the chance to be in Lucknow. Or might just ask one of my friends to get me some :D Thank you for your kind words.
    Warm regards.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. ur welcome...lemme also provide their contact no its 9161398254...
    Regards Nisha