Rivaayat, one of the most talked about food festivals from 2016, is back! Rivaayat is an Urdu word that means ‘tradition’. It is a sincere attempt by the Oberoi Group to revisit and rediscover heritage Indian cuisine. Oberoi launched the initiative at “Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave” in 2015. Since then, multiple Oberoi group properties in India, including the Trident Hyderabad, have hosted Rivaayat Food Festivals. The menu for Riavaayat at Trident Hyderabad, curated by Master Chef Manik Magotra and his team at Kanak, showcase little known traditional delicacies as well as traditional recreations of several modern-day favourites from Amritsar, Delhi, Awadh, and Hyderabad. I was invited to a media session where a Chef’s choice three-course menu was offered to us.
In most food festivals centered around Awadhi, Mughlai, and Nizami cuisines, the appetisers are inevitably dominated by Kebabs. The Rivaayat set menu selected for us, stood out for going beyond Kebabs and featuring varied Indian delicacies that could serve as a starter. The set menu featured just one vegetarian kebab – Kumbh ki Galavat. This is a vegetarian take on the famous Galouti Kebabs of Awadh that substitute minced mutton with mushrooms. Vegetarian recreations of popular non-vegetarian kebabs rarely impress me, but this dish was a revelation. While most vegetarian recreations are let down by the overpowering flavour of the Gram flour or Rajma, here mushroom along with a delicate mixture of spices were adeptly used to balance the flavours. While the Galouti showcased the sophistication and complexity of Indian cuisine, the second vegetarian appetiser demonstrated the beauty in simplicity. Aaloo-Kachalu, a mixture of cubed Potato and Colocasia tempered with a sweet and tangy chutney, was refreshing, light, and surprisingly addictive. The non-vegetarian selection included Lagan ki Boti and Khatti Kairi ka Rampuri Jhinga. The former is an Awadhi preparation that should feel familiar to Hyderabadis owing to its resemblance with Tala Hua Gosht. The Lagan ki Boti is a comparatively milder preparation that’s been braised with nuts and caramelised onions. The Rampuri Jhinga is Prawns marinated in yoghurt and raw mango, and tandoored to perfection.
The mains featured some of my quintessential favourites from different corners of the country. A smokey Baigan ka Bharta with a hint of garlic flavour. Rustic Sarson ka Saag featuring the distinctive pungent flavor of mustard. The Chicken Curry was inspired by the one served at the legendary Puran Singh ka Dhaba in Punjab. The thin, homely gravy was light and mildly spiced yet absolutely delicious.
Much like the earlier two courses, the desserts showcased that restraint while cooking can be a wonderful thing. The Gulab Phirnee made from broken red rice and adorned with crystallised rose petals worked as well as it did due to its mild sweetness. The Dry Fruits Phirnee made from bottle gourd and crushed nuts was indulgent and delightful, but significantly less greasy than the Halwa at most sweetshops.
The Rivaayat food festival will continue until 25th January at Kanak (dinner only).