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Monday, July 16, 2001

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Avadh cuisine spread out

Food festivals are not just an occasion to present the best of the country's cuisine to its citizens as well as visiting foreigners but also serve to revive past memories of kings and nobles who were so much fond of good cuisine that they elevated gastronomy to a form of art.

For example, the Nawabs of Awadh were only too well known for their taste and their palate mirrored their attitude towards life. Their laid-back approach, as evidenced in the portrayal of the famous Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in ``Shatranj Ke Khilari'', was more than compensated by their love for good food. The gastronomic delights they used to revel in sometimes surpassed the most royal of all celebrations.

From time to time, these indolent times of the Nawabs has been recreated in food festivals in several five-star hotels in the city giving connoisseurs an opportunity to savour the mouth- watering delicacies that formed part and parcel of the Nawabi culinary delights. Often, much research goes into festivals like these as the menu liked by the Nawabs -- though well-documented -- is now scattered in various historical records. Also, families which are a surviving link to the rich cuisine of yore provide a source material to make such festivals a bridge between the past and the present.

Bringing alive the special ambience of the era of Nawabs of Awadh, with all their pomp and courtly splendour, Durbar Restaurant at Ashok Hotel in New Delhi organised ``Shaam-e- Avadh'' food festival this past week-end. Those who missed it need not get disheartened -- it will be held once again on the same premises from July 20 to 22.

Master chefs from Lucknow have created special culinary delights in a lavishly spread buffet befitting the festival. You can savour an impeccable mix of non-vegetarian and vegetarian delights like Galavat Kebab, Kareli Biryani, Husainbadi Gosht, Kela Kabab, Biryani, Nishatganj Ki Jalfarozi with liberal doses of chutneys.

After a perfect meal, taste the desserts like Malpua Rabri, Muzaffar... The festival evokes the indolent spirit of the Nawabs and the atmosphere is truly royal. To liven up the evenings, there is a virtual feast for the eyes in terms of reliving some court dances accompanied by lilting and soul-stirring ghazals by Bhupinder Parmar.

With the festival endeavoring to provide the nostalgic crowd a fine dining experience among royalty, ``Sham-e-Avadh'' promises to be an out-of-the-world experience. During the special Happy Hours, a glass of chilled coca cola, is given along with the food. All in all, a festival which will transport you to the past...

By K. Kannan

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