In a line: Le Meridien Gurgaon’s Executive Sous Chef Manoj Rawat brings us some delicacies from the hills of Uttarakhand at Latest Recipe.
Price: Rs. 1999 for buffet
Timings: 7:00 PM till midnight
Dates: 19th April- 30th April 2017
Location: Latest Recipe, Le Meridien, Gurgaon
Must haves: Bhutwa, kaapli, shikar, mitthu bhath, til ladoo
While most of my long weekends have been spent on some hill station in Uttarakhand, I somehow couldnt get an opportunity to taste the authentic delicacies of this region. Probably because the places that I have visited in Uttarakhand, have become so commercialised, that the regional cuisine has taken a back seat and North Indian and Italian food has happily replaced it.
Also known as dev bhoomi or land of the gods, we may know a lot about Uttarakhands scenic beauty, but the culinary treasures are still unexplored. Hence, when I got to know that Latest Recipe in Le Meridien, Gurgaon, is coming up with an Uttarakhand Food Festival, I couldnt help myself, but to visit and experience what this state of India has to offer.
Chef Manoj Rawat had personally visited Uttarakhand, did his research and has brought back some drool worthy dishes from the hills of Uttarakhand, that will surely make your visit to Latest Recipe worthwhile. A variety of starters, mains and desserts from Uttarakhand have found a place in their buffet menu at Latest Recipe, and will be available for dinner till 30th April 2017.
My visit to LR not only turned out to be a memorable dining experience, but was also an enriching one, as I learned a lot about the culture and food of this unexplored territory. The hearty and wholesome offerings of Uttarakhand are not doused in masalas and spices, and hence, the main vegetable or meat retains its flavours, which otherwise get lost in our North Indian food preprations. Since the ingredients are all locally sourced, the food is fresh, full of nutrients and healthy.
Rhododendron is the state tree of uttarakhand, and its flower is used to prepare a very refreshing and light pink-coloured drink, known as buransh, which I paired with the deep fried besan-coated fritters of fish, onions, paneer and potatoes, that were a part of the starters. I paired these fritters with some bhaang ki chutney(made from bhaang seeds and not leaves) and til ki chutney(made with sesame seeds and garlic). But it was the bhutwa that won my heart amongst the other starters. Prepared with a few spices, the dish is made is offlas of lamb, which include lungs, kidneys and intestine, and though could easily pass through as a main course with a bread, was devoured by itself as a starter.
While their were limited starters, the variety of dishes in the main course were good enough to leave me spoiled for choice. Without wanting to miss on to either of those, I decided to have a bit of everything. Hence, I was rewarded with some unusual and simple dishes, the taste of which grew on me quickly. Kaapli was like any other vegetable saag that we have, but the crunch of coriander seeds is what made it different and delicious. Kandali chicken had a simple curry that was cooked with the pungent nettle leaves or bicchu ghas, notorious for the spikes and the itches and rashes that it causes to the person with whom it comes in contact with.
Shikar, the beautiful fiery looking red mutton curry was one of my favourites, as it didnt have a lot of fat over it, unlike other mutton dishes. I paired it with the ghee slithered mandua or buckwheat roti, and was good to go.
No meal can conclude without a dessert or two, and hence, the buffet spread offers some sweet desserts from Uttarakhand. If you are not fond of very sweet desserts then singori(cardamom infused khoya wrapped in a malu leaf) and ghughute(fennel flavoured, twisted semolina dessert) are the desserts for you. And if you have a sweet tooth, then the fudgy bal mithai, coated with small sugar balls and nutty sesame seeds and jaggery ladoo will win over you. But it was the unusual rice pudding called mitthu bhath that helped me conclude my meal on a delicious note.
Oveall, the Uttarakhand Food festival is perfect to give us some insight about the culinary offerings of Uttarakhand and there are ample options for the vegetarians this time.