3 Vegetarian Must-Haves; Foodmantra for the WoW factor at Hakkasan

The beauty of Cantonese food is truly in its simplicity. Unlike the Indie-Chinese preparations that we are accustomed to, Cantonese food is not greasy or spicy. The spices are only used to compliment and enhance the flavor of the dish but they don’t dominate the flavor of the main ingredient. It is one of the eight traditions of Chinese cooking, perhaps among the most nutritious styles of cooking. Ingredients are used at the peak of their freshness; in fact some restaurants across the world also have aquariums to ensure freshest seafood. Steamed seafood and lightly greased, crunchy stir-fried vegetables are among my personal Cantonese favourites.

 

After a certain 2016 resolution I made to have mercy on my stomach and opt for light, nutritious choices, I was really glad that I had an opportunity to sample a Cantonese menu; the WowTables Fixed 4 Course meal at Hakkasan, Mumbai.

 

If you are ordering from the Ala Carte menu at Hakkasan, a meal for two comes to around 4000 rupees. So, at first when Wow tables contacted me, I did not understand what was so great about the Wow Tables experience if I would end up spending roughly the same amount for a meal for two! Isn’t it the same thing?

Actually, no, it is not the same thing as ordering from the Ala carte menu. There are a couple of advantages that you have, the first being that you don’t need to pay a penny in advance. Wow Tables or the restaurant does not charge any advance payment for the meal booking. Everything from the table to the set meal can be pre-booked online so your dining experience is smooth and stress-free.

The other advantage in my opinion is for a lazy, lazy evening where in the best of the restaurant’s selection is already hand picked for you, and you don’t need to spend several minutes figuring out the best option on the menu. The best part though, is that you get to sample more variety at the same price. The fixed menu offers each person 2 small eats, 1 main, 1 rice or noodle, an option of dessert and a glass of wine or martini. This range of dishes would cost you more if you were ordering straight from the ala Carte menu. Anything you order over and above these options in the fixed menu is charged extra.

 

The #Foodmantra Top 3 WoW Factors in this meal were the Crystal Dumpling, Mock Duck Salad (Perfect textured Soyabean meat for Vegetarians) and the Lotus Stem Stir Fry was amazing. I also enjoyed the Pakchoy dumplings, Duck Wraps and the Ginger Fried Rice a lot. The service was prompt, courteous and warm. #Foodmantra for this menu, do try out the vegetarian textured soyabean meats, it is unique and interesting.

 

 

 

 

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The Dum Pukht Biryani: How to Achieve Spiritual Awakening through Food?

Dum Pukht Biryani

Dum Pukht Biryani

It is the most gratifying aroma, and also the most painful craving that comes with the scent of a steaming-hot Dum Biryani. That aroma of basmati rice & robust spices flirting with my nose is divine, so comforting in the midst of a winter evening just setting in.

As the waiter sets it onto the next table, I can’t help but look lustfully at the golden yellow grains of long, unbroken basmati rice studded with the large chunks of moist, browned meat. I must look like a hungry tigress I thought, almost ready to jump shamelessly to the next table and attack that gorgeous biryani. But as I saw the proud glare on the face of the woman who was just about to eat it all by herself I quickly turned my head and shied away, as though I had been caught.

Although I hadn’t completely ditched the thought of attacking her biryani, I was now stealing a glance or two, pretending like I was searching for the waiter at Dum Pukht. There are few things in the world that can make you feel as good and satisfied as a Dum Pukht Biryani. After all, it is hardly ever that I feel envious and make eyes at another woman’s dinner!

It was a sticky situation but as I waited for my own Dum Pukht Biryani I managed to steal a few glances at that rich, regal-looking dish and my heart was pounding, as she was about to slice into that chunk of meat. The moment she touched the meat with her fork, the meat just slipped off the bone. “Ah!” I said, as the lady closed her eyes and enjoyed that first bite of her Dum Pukht biryani. Lovely.

As I looked eagerly at her face, searching for an expression of indulgence and gratification, she slowly opened her eyes and looked at me, almost dizzily in love. There it was an instant love-for-food connection, and we both burst into a chuckle. “I’m sorry I can’t share this Biryani”, she said with a funny face. “Neither can I”, I said as my Dum Pukht Biryani arrived at the table.

Suddenly, I felt like a five year old child, my eyes twinkling as I was being handed the lollypop. I had been good this year and my reward was finally here. Sometimes in life, it is best to enjoy a meal all by yourself, just drown in the dream, close your eyes, inhale the aromas, slice it softly, chew slowly and just let every sense of your being enjoy that bite of biryani, as if it were your last. That’s what I did.

As I slowly worked my way through every bite, each one was a medley of flavours & textures, and each awoke a separate sense of my being, I don’t mock spirituality, but for me this was like enlightenment. This meal, suddenly made me feel alive. I was there, in that moment with every bite that I ate. Call me crazy but I think that food like this is answer to real spiritual awakening, Haaahaa..

In the end, I felt sad that it was over but I was enchanted by the experience, and perhaps addicted to the biryani. As the lady from the next table left, we exchanged a pleasant, “I know how you feel” look. It is amazing how people and how many people connect over food.

There was something about this Dum Pukht Biryani that kept making me want to come back. Frankly, I could not afford to come every now and then for this special treat, and certainly could not afford to bring a dozen of my loved ones here to try it out, so I took the other road. The other road being, learning how to make this brilliant, regal-looking Dum Pukht Biryani from the man himself, Chef Mohammed Shareef the Dum Pukht Masterchef at ITC Maratha Mumbai.

It was a pleasant evening, we shared a laugh over food talk and he gave me so many little tips about making this biryani right. Apparently, there are some people in the world who still take their art very seriously, and it is not just about the recipe, it is everything from the perfect quality of Basmati rice, cut of meat to the choicest of spices and the order in which they should be added!

With the Chef’s guidance, I successfully recorded the step-by-step recipe of “How to Make the perfect Dum Biryani?”

Here’s the video of the Dum Pukht Biryani recipe for you.

This is the authentic recipe of the Avadhi aka Lucknowi Pakki Biryani as seen or eaten at Dum Pukht, ITC Hotels. Do try this recipe and whichever part of the world you come from, do tell me how it turned out because I am really curious to know. .