Thursday, 11 September 2014

Experiencing Khad Khazana at the Eden Pavilion, ITC Sonar, Kolkata

If you are in Kolkata and want to treat your taste buds to some authentic Khad cuisine, head straight to ITC Sonar's 24-hour fine dining restaurant, Eden Pavilion that is hosting Khad Khazana from 12-21 September as part of the dinner buffet (Rs 1850 plus applicable taxes per guest) . I got to sample some dishes from Khad Khazana yesterday prepared by Master Chef Kailash Maharaj and I can only say "I never thought vegetarian food could also taste this good". Non-vegetarians, don't lose heart because there's quite a bit for you too and they taste equally good but the veg fare is amazing!

Khad cuisine is intrinsic to the regions of Marwar, Mewar, Shekhawati and Hadhoti. The subtlety of vegetarian as well as rich non-vegetarian hunter’s fare are enhanced with the spice of Mathania Chilli, JodpuriLongiMirch, Pipla Mool and Pipal. Taking in the nuances of Jain cuisine cooked without garlic and onions as well as Marwari culinary traditions.

Chef Kailash Maharaj born and brought up in the Newai district, honed his culinary expertise in the rustic kitchens of his village. He specialized in Marwar Barbeques and served the royalty of Udaipur and Jaipur. He has showcased this unique cuisine across the country as well as abroad.

We started off our meal with Pudine Ke Sikjim and Kairi Ki Cchaj, two slightly sweet drinks to cleanse the palate and prepare for the appetizers and main course. Chef Maharaj joined us for the meal in his traditional finery and it was great interacting with him and finding out more about Rajasthani cuisine, the food that he used to prepare for Rajmata Gayatri Devi, the unique ingredients that he sources directly from the various regions and we also managed to get some recipes from him :).

The appetizers were Kamal Kakri Ki Shami, a kebab made from lotus stems and Paneer Ka Sula (similar to tawa paneer but drier). Along with these were the traditional Rajasthani Shakar Para, Matthri and an excellent hung curd chutney which got polished off in minutes. I specially loved the lotus stem kebab. It was something new for me and I loved the taste. Paneer fans will want more of the rich Paneer Sula!

Kamal Kakri Ki Shami and Paneer Ka Sula


The main course was an extremely elaborate affair. It included 15 dishes out of which three were non-veg. Rajasthani cuisine is very rich and made with a lot of ghee, oil and masala which adds to the taste. I can't name everything I had but I particularly loved the Bikhaneri Khichdi with the abundance of pure ghee and a mix of pulses, the traditional Bapla Bati, Matki Dal and Choorma - I've always loved this dish with its mix of sweet and salty flavors, Ram Gari Machi - how can a bengali not love her fish specially when it tastes so good and Shari Baagh Maans - mutton cooked without onion and garlic. You would never believe it if you did not know! 

Starting off with the main course

Dessert comprised of Jari Phal Choorma, Doodhya Kheech and Dil Khuser. I loved Doodhya Kheech, very similar to the Bengali 'Payesh' or porridge but made with whole wheat. The dessert trio was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Indian cuisine never stops to amaze me. Every state has so much to offer and it's lovely that hotels like ITC come up with these food festivals to let people experience the treasures of different parts of India. The menu of Khad Khazana will keep changing every day and the chef will also include other popular Rajasthani dishes like Ghevar, Gond Ke Laddoo etc. Drop in for dinner to experience this unique cuisine from the desert state.  

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