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Back to Biriyani

Undeniably the piece de resistance of the Hyderabadi food festival at the Garden Café, GRT Radisson



TRADITION TICKS The sumptuous spread at Ghulame- Moosavi, the Hyderabadi food festival PHOTO: S. R. RAGHUNATHAN

This is all about a dignified, fatherly 75-year-old man and a sprightly, articulate woman. Simple, isn't it? But that's what food is about; it's about connecting with people of different culture, religion and even language and times. So when the uncle, Hussain Ali Moosavi, and the niece (by marriage, mind you) Radha Rao speak to you about the kachchi gosht biriyani, besides the masala, rice and the meat, you do get a feel of their passion, pride and a wistfulness for a past, long gone.

When food fests come, the PR agencies go into overdrive. Once an overenthusiastic PR even sent five to six pages of Internet downloads on the definition and history of American barbeque! But the truth is that often the hyperbole falls flat at the table. This is where Ghulam-e-Moosavi, the Hyderabadi food festival at the Garden Café, GRT Radisson (Phone: 22310101) stands apart.

Listening to the conviction in this former law student's voice while describing the four-hour marination of the mutton for the biriyani, it was easy to picture his journey from classrooms that echoed with the sounds of sections and subsections of law to the world of colour, taste, feel, sound and smell — the kitchen, of course.

With his heart in such things as bagare baingan and kheema koftas, Moosavi lasted just two years in law college. And began his 35-year-old love affair with Hyderabadi food.

Back to biriyani — it was undeniably the piece de resistance that night. It seemed that the meat was so soft that it was pre-programmed to self-destruct on contact with the human tongue. Actually it made me wonder how the pieces held their shape till then. The flavours! Of saffron, kewra, mint and the rest — everything in the right proportion, in the right place. The best part was the lack of a cloying richness — the biriyani didn't leave that sheen of ghee on the fingers. Mahe khalia with seer fish and kache kheeme ke kofte gave ample support to the biriyani. On the vegetarian side, kaddu ka dalcha and bagare baigan were the show stealers.

Thinking again, the tangy, zingy bottle gourd dalcha had more sizzle than the baigan. Okay, I'll tell you the secret of paneer sia mirchi, it's the softness of the cottage cheese.

Where the sparkle dimmed was at the dessert table. Ratalu ki kheer or the sweet potato kheer was the best of the lot. The rest, we meet all too often at buffets. As mere name change doesn't help gajjar ka rishta and lungcha still tasted like gajjar halwa and gulab jamun, albeit in a different shape. The only other new face, chickoo pudding, had too much of jell.

The festival is on till June 19, but only in the evenings. The price? A royal Rs. 400 plus taxes per person.

MARIEN MATHEW

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