Rich flavours on a platter

Rich flavours on a platter

Rich flavours on a platter

Punjabis are very warm people, especially when it comes to serving their guests. The food is not only tasty but tempts one to go for an extra helping.

The ongoing Punjabi food fest, ‘Flavours of Punjab’ at the ITC Gardenia, from August 10 to 19, celebrates this spirit and offers authentic Punjabi food. The hotel has flown in chef Sweety Singh from Delhi just for the ten-day festival.

Chef Sweety has been cooking for as long as he can remember. He used to watch his father cook and soon, he picked up the tricks of the trade. Vijay Malhotra, the executive chef at ITC Gardenia, is no less an expert in Punjabi food. He attributes the rich flavour of the food to the weather of Punjab and its naturally sweet water.

 “Punjab is the land of milk, so ghee is available in plenty. This is precisely why the base of all Punjabi dishes is ghee. And an emphasis on ghar ka khana makes it truly special,” Vijay tells Metrolife.

The duo has chalked out a special menu for the festival, which includes the choicest of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. And the dessert section has an array of sweets, which are popular in Punjab.

Among the dishes that are a must try is the Chowl Meat which has none of the added flavours used in a typical biryani. “We use just the spices, especially black pepper and chilli powder which impart the spice to the chowl.

 And unlike the normal biryani, the rice is cooked from start to finish in one go along with the lamb cuts,” explains Sweety. He says that all dishes are cooked on a slow fire, which adds to the taste.

 The Bhatti Da Kukad is a very light tandoori chicken preparation, which is made with a marinade of hung curd, garlic paste, black pepper and coriander powder. “The meat is marinated overnight and the taste is distinct from any run-of-the mill chicken kebabs,” explains Vijay. 

The Rarah Meat is another dish to watch out for. “We don’t use whole spices to flavour this preparation, but due to low heat, the dish develops its own unique flavour. And by the end of the cooking process, the fat comes to the surface, which lends the sheen to this dish,” adds Vijay.

The vegetarian dishes are no less delicious. The Aloo Wadi is cooked using sundried dumplings of ground urad, seasoned and spiced up with dried red chillies, black pepper corns and coriander seeds. Kadi is also a must try.

 “The whey is beaten together with gram flour and then cooked over slow heat so that the cooking medium retains its character,” says Vijay and adds, “onion pakodas are integral to this kadi. This is finished with tempering of onions, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, whole pomegranate seeds, whole dried red chillies and turmeric powder.”

For the dessert section, there is Atte Da Halwa which is made with whole wheat flour cooked in ghee and sweetened. The Khajoor Da Halwa has seedless dates which are cooked in milk. “The dish requires very little sugar since the dates are sweet.

 This halwa is topped with cardamom powder and almond slivers,” Vijay sums up.