Radisson Blu Hyderabad is hosting a ten-day Mediterranean Food Festival that showcases the culinary delights from countries like Lebanon, Greece, Spain, and Turkey. The festival plays to the strengths of its new executive chef – Chef Sarabjeet Singh Walia. Chef Walia, who was previously stationed at Park Plaza Noida, brings with him over twenty-three years of experience. He was trained in Mediterranean cuisine in Lebanon.
I was invited to a preview lunch hosted by Radisson for media and bloggers. We began with a Mezze Platter featuring Fattoush, Hummus, Babaganoush, Tabbouleh, and Tezazki. All of the dips were absolutely fabulous. I’ve quite an affair with Hummus – a whipped ground chickpea, sesame seed and olive oil paste, and Radisson didn’t disappoint. The texture was just right; the Hummus was light, yet brimming with flavour. However, the show stealer was the Babaganoush – a paste of pureed roasted eggplant, sesame seed & cream. I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but I found myself repeatedly dipping into the bowl of Babaganoush.
The cold starters were followed by a couple of Arabic variants of Samosa – Fatayer and Samousa. The Samousa was stuffed with spiced potatoes & garden pea, while the Fatayar was loaded with a spinach and pine nuts mixture with a sprinkling of sumac powder. These were followed by Samboosek, another deep fried pastry with a filling of minced meat and pine nuts. Although these three dishes were similar, the distinctive fillings offered an interesting variation of flavours. We ended this course with Kibbeh and Falafel.
The Entres began with a delicious Chicken Shawarma Pocket packed with juicy chicken strips, pickled veggies, lettuce & tarator sauce. Shish Taouk or Chicken Shish Kebab is popular across the Mediterranean, but the marinade differs across regions. While a Arabic version will use a yoghurt based marinade, the Lebanese version a tomato based marinated spiced with garlic and sumac. We were served the latter.
The main courses paired Lebanese Samke Harra or Spiced Fish with Spanish Seafood Paella. The Spanish rice is known for its vibrancy – both in colour and flavour. Arborio rice is braised with seafood, tomatoes, and saffron. The rice is served al ente. The Samke Harra is a grilled fish spiced with Tahini served with a Traboulsi (pepper and corriander) Sauce. The delicate grilled fish complemented the bolder flavours of the Paella remarkably! Imam Baildi, a greek eggplant preparation where the eggplant is roasted and filled with oregano & basil scented assortment of minced legumes, was a revalation. Who knew eggplant could be this irresistible! The final dish in the main course was stuffed Cabbage Dolmas from Turkey. The dish looked gorgeous. In fact, pretty much every dish served to us was plated beautifully. The stuffed cabbages, however, tasted rather drab.
Finishing things up were the illustrious trio of Baklava, Basbousa, and Lab-e-Shireen. Lab-e-Shireen is an Arabic dessert closely associated with Eid. I started with the Baklava – a crisp phyllo pastry filled with nuts, honey & crumbs. The Baklava was styled in an unusual way, with the appearance resembling a Sui Mai. The flavour was good, but the unusual presentation made the Baklava a tad too dry. I’d have loved a bit more of the syrup. The Basbousa – a popular Middle Eastern semolina cake, was simply delicious. One of the things that I loved both about the Baklava and the Basbousa is the moderate sweetness of the dish. Finally, I washed all of it down with Lab-e-Shireen -a rose scented, cream custard scented with nuts & fresh fruit chunks.
The Mediterranean food festival at Radisson will follow the usual format of the hotel.There’ll be four starters evenly split across veg and non-veg that’ll be served on the table. The remaining dishes will be available on the buffet. The festival will be on until the 29th Sep. It is a part of the dinner buffet at Chill that’s priced at Rs. 1250 plus tax. Although I wish that Radisson will increase the spread of the dinner buffet, the food on offer is simply fabulous. Chef Walia has done a terrific job at showcasing both the familiar and unfamiliar aspects of Mediterranean cuisine. The food on offer light and easy on the tummy but an absolute treat for the senses.