United Kitchens of India is hosting a grand a Hyderabadi daawat dubbed Jashn-E-Hyderabad to celebrate the Telengana formation day. Jashn is UKI’s second foray into food festivals, and is formatted similarly to the earlier Borsho Boron Bengali Food festival. The Hyderabadi food festival menu combines UKI’s signature dishes with a few new specialties and offers them at an attractive price.
A few days back, I was invited to a tasting and feedback session. It was a relatively calm weekday evening, but UKI was still bustling with activity. The erstwhile Dawn to Dusk Cafe is now an air-conditioned seating area that doubles up as a private dining room for larger groups. This room was the venue for the foodies and bloggers.
The daawat began with the Shorbas – Marag for the non-vegetarians and Tamatar Dhaniya for the vegeterians. Marag is a spicy, thin soup prepared from mutton pieces with bone that’s a regular fixture in weddings. It is a soup that’s rich in flavours and spices, yet is light and refreshing. It’s this delicate balance that makes the Marag exceptional, and UKI’s Marag garnered praises around the table. There is not much a Tamatar Dhaniya can do to feel impressive after a Marag, but it didn’t do anything wrong either. In fact, I loved the sweet finish of the soup.
There are seven appetizers in the festival menu – three veg and four non-veg. The Arbi Bhooney and Tava Paneer were my favourites among the vegetarian starters. United Kitchens of India serves some of the softest Paneer in the city, and their Malai Paneer Roll is unmissable. The Tava Paneer lived up to the expectations. It offered the same soft Paneer, but in a spicy marinade. I’ve never been a fan of Arbi. When I was a kid, the sight of Kochu (as it is known in Bengali) on my plate was enough to bring me to tears. But, I’d have to admit that the Arbi Bhooney quite a fine dish. I still found the texture of Arbi rather unsatisfying, but the crunchy crust is delicious. Anyone who doesn’t share my irrational dislike for Arbi should love this dish. Non-vegetarians were pampered with Tala Murgh, Gurda Kaleji, Sheek Kebab, and Tava Kali Mirch Murgh. I’d prefer to see a Shikampuri instead of a Sheekh on the menu, but the four appetizers were delicious. The humble Gurda Kaleji was as good as you would find in the Old City and was the standout dish.
Main course includes Subz ki Tihari (a mix vegetable pulao), Raan Biryani, and Bagara Khanna (traditional Hyderabadi Aromatic Pulao). The Bagara Rice was outstanding and was ably complemented by the Khatti Dal, Bagara Baingan, and Dalcha Ghosht. The richly marinated, slow cooked Dum ka Murgh was another stunner. The Raan Biryani arrived on beautiful toy trucks. The Biryani was quite decent, but I prefer the flavours of the one at TGIK – a bit more ghee, and a hint of sweetness. I’ve no clue which one is the ‘authentic’ Raan Biryani, or if such a thing even exists.
The final course comprises of Sheer Korma, Double ka Meetha, and Kubani ka Meetha. The Double ka Meetha wasn’t served to us on the day, but I was quite happy with restrained use of sugar in the Kubani. The Sheer Korma is a festive dish that prepared in almost all Muslim households across Hyderabad. It’s a Semiya Payasam (Vermicelli Pudding) enriched with dry seeds, dry fruits, and chironji. It’s not a dish you’d see often in restaurants, but the unanimous opinion on the table was that UKI managed to nail this dish. Just as I was prepping to wrap up for the night, UKI surprised me with a cup of tea and paan – the perfect Hyderabadi way to end a lavish meal.
Jashn-E-Hyderabad features everything you might expect in a Hyderabadi daawat and then some more. The soups and starters will be served on the table, while the remaining dishes will be placed on the buffet. The festival menu will be available between 2nd and 5th June for Rs. 749 (all inclusive).