I’ve written about La Cantina before. Housed inside Novotel (HICC), Hyderabad, it dishes out some of the best Mexican available in the city. Earlier this week, they launched a new menu with several new signature dishes. Hyderabad Foodies Club organised a cooking workshop and lunch at La Cantina to sample some of the items from the new menu.
The event kicked off with Chef Saurav and his team preparing the signature items from our lunch menu in front of an inquisitive audience. He started off with Smoked Ancho and Ricotta Flautas, which is deep fried Corn Cannoli stuffed with a mixture of Ricotta Cheese, served on a bed of spiced crushed Peanuts. I loved the creamy filling of Ricotta Cheese that was spiced up with some Ancho Chilli and Garlic. This is a really simple dish, but the combination works.
The next dish was a chicken soup called the Chicken Pozole. It was enlightening to see some of the techniques that goes into preparation of a gourmet soup. Instead of starch or cream, which is used in Oriental and Continental soups, the chef used crushed Breadcrumbs as the thickening agent. Coarsely chopped Chickpeas were mixed with the spices and sauted for a while, after which Chicken Stock was added and brought to a boil. The Chicken was added towards the end. This simple soup was oddly satisfying.
After a short break we moved onto Pumpkin and Bean Burrito. The chef used a mixture of pre-fried Pumpkin julienne, refried Beans (first boiled then mashed and fried), Jalepenos and spices as the Burrito filling. While I’m a big fan of Burrito, I wasn’t a fan of this particular preparation. The filling felt a little flat, and definitely could have done with more flavour. I guess this dish was created with the vegetarian in mind, but pumpkin can hardly be a substitute for some great meat. I appreciate the attempt to create a simple authentic version of Burrito, but some sour cream or guacamole would have definitely helped. If I had to pick, I would pick even Taco Bell Burritos over this.
Enchiladas are another extremely popular export from Mexico. The one we tasted today was Ancho Chicken Enchilada. The tortilla was stuffed with a slice of cheddar cheese, chicken, crushed beans, and jalapeno. This dish hit all the right notes, and I loved the rustic sauce prepared from tomato and jalapeno puree.
Finally, in desserts, we had La Cantina’s own twist on Churros, which is a wildly popular snack in South America, where it can be a part of any meal. The dough was prepared with butter, flour, and eggs. After whisking it rapidly, it was deep fried. Unlike the churros I’ve had before, La Cantina stuffs their churros with a pastry cream. The final product is served with peanut sauce. The churros were brilliant. Crunchy, yet light. Sweet, but not too aggressively sweet. The peanut butter sauce jelled well with the dessert.
We also tasted a couple of other dishes today including Chicken Skewers and Cilantro Rice. The rice was amazing and deserves a special mention for its brilliant flavour. We finished off our meal with the Tres Leches Cake, which La Cantina is extremely proud of. The cake is dipped in soaked in milk, yet light and fluffy. This is definitely a must have dessert in La Cantina.
La Cantina had impressed me during my earlier visit, and today’s event was no different. I got to taste a wider portion of the menu, and apart from the Pumpkin Burrito, none of the dishes disappointed. La Cantina is not cheap, but it definitely impresses when it comes to the food.