There is seldom a time when a restaurant takes a step back into history, not with specializing in a cuisine but with style of cooking. We as Indians have varied different styles of cooking steeped in our history. From coal to firewood, stone to different styles of utensils. These form the premise at the ongoing “Stone and Wood Fire” food festival at Bidri, Marriott Convention Center.
For anyone who’s been to Bidri, sure would have experienced the durbar-like dining it offers. The mellifluous live classical music, the beautiful arches and even the lighting of the restaurant. The stone and coal has been set-up on the outer premise of the restaurant and the preparations starts at 5 PM. As the coal heat stabilizes and you’re ready with beautifully made dishes for your dinner.
The menu is thoughtfully-crafted and covers the regions of India extensively. For the night we started off with the Yakhni Shorba. Soon as they poured the Yakhni Shorba in my bowl, the first to hit me was the lovely smell of the smoky infusion in the shorba. As I partake my first spoon, I knew this was one of those dishes I ain’t gonna stop raving about later. It was simply delicious and packed so much flavor in every spoonful.
The Pathar ka Gosht had been marinated for quite a while in raw papaya, spices and rose petals. Soon as the chef put it on the hot stone, the crackle and sizzle of the meat on stone was music to the ears. They say food is about satiating not the stomach alone, but the senses too. The Pathar ka Gosht did exactly that. The Matka Kebab was chicken mince packed in small mud pots and cooked over charcoal.
It’s hard cooking quail coz of the size of the bird and also the tenderness of the meat. And over a char grill is even harder because you might just loose the moisture in the meat if not cooked uniformly at the right temperature. But the chefs at Marriott had done a great job with the Bhatti ka Bater. Marinated in yogurt and kashmiri chilis, the quail dish had been given it’s due.
We had taken a walk to check the rows of utensils where the food had been cooking over the stone and coal. Everytime the Chef opened up the lid to serve, I couldn’t help smile at the amazing smell of the dishes that the air around was thick with. Personally I love a good Dum ki Nalli. You know that it’s a good Nalli dish simply running the gravy through your fingers. It’ll be sticky and yet leave no residue behind. The Dum ki Nalli at the “Stone and Wood Fire” festival was simply brilliant. With a side of butter naan or sheermal, I couldn’t have asked for more.
Seldom have I seen chicken cooked with colocasia, but the Murgh aur Arbi ka Salan was an entirely new dish I got to experience. Marriott has always been proud of it’s Bidri Dal. Their take on the Dal Makhni, the Bidri Dal isn’t as heavy as the regular Dal Makhni though. The other dish to not give a miss is the Bharrey Aloo ka Korma. The potatoes in the gravy are filled with inside with spiced potatoes and nuts.
For the desserts, we absolutely loved the Sheermal Pudding. It was innovation at it’s best by Chef Yogendra. A take on the Crème Brûlée, this gave the dessert a Nizami twist. The baked Gulab Jamun and Sitaphal (custard apple) Rabri were also terrific, but there was no denying that the Sheermal Pudding trumped it all.
The ‘Stone and Wood Fire Food Festival’ isn’t just about the dishes but the very dynamic nature of cooking that the chefs at Marriott took it upon them to come up with something like this. These age old techniques give food a more robust and beautiful flavor which is hard replicating in a kitchen. And we absolutely love the fact that here a platform is given to the style of cooking more than a particular cuisine or dish.
The Stone And Wood Fire Festival is on at Bidri, Marriott Convention Center until Oct 17th, 2015.