The Café at Hyatt City of Dreams cooks-up a delectable, multi-sensory treat at its week-long Indian Food Fest
The city of Gurgaon in North India took center stage from July 17 to 24, at a showcase of Indian food at Hyatt City of Dreams’ main dining space, The Café. The festival was a happy mix of regional and traditional, as well as more familiar Indian dishes, which featured the creations of guest chefs Ajith Kumar, chef de cuisine, and Sanjay Kumar, chef de partie, of Hyatt Regency Gurgaon in Haryana, just south of New Delhi.
Specialties from the northern territories, such as Haryana, Kashmir and Punjab, along with favorites from the southern parts of the country, like Kerala and Goa, proved as pleasing to the taste, as to the visual and olfactory senses. Each dish was a burst of flavor and texture, a riot of color, and a scintillating, heady mix of the intense aroma of exotic herbs and spices.
From the carefully arranged displays of condiments and seasonings, to the presentation of each dish, and the added touches of Indian flair, the food festival was no less than a multi-sensory treat. This sensual barrage – typical of most, if not all of Indian cooking – was a journey down a road paved with all things delicious, representative of the distinct variations between northern and southern Indian cuisine.
“We would like to highlight Indian cuisine, the dishes we have in the North and in the South of India, because we believe that Indian food has much to offer,” Chef Ajith noted.
While Indian cuisine largely shares commonalities between regions, there are also nuances that are rooted in regional heritage. North Indian fare, for instance, offers a myriad of breads (among these naan and roti, with various dipping sauces), and curries (everything from chicken and mutton, to shrimp and mixed veggies). Aloo or potato-based dishes are likewise popular in the region. Dried fenugreek is the herb of choice, while garam masala is a key ingredient, spice-wise. To exemplify the hearty north, Chefs Ajith and Sanjay whipped up Samosas (deep fried pastry shells made of wheat flour or with maida flour, and stuffed with filling, which is usually a savory mixture of mashed boiled potato, carrots, onions, green peas, spices and green chili), Aloo Tikka (pan-fried potato croquettes), Dal Makhani (a rich lentil curry from the Punjabi area), Paneer Makhani (cottage cheese simmered in tomato sauce with fenugreek). Main courses included Rajasthani Maas Ke Sooley (spicy smoked lamb with raw papaya), and the renowned Kashmiri dish of Mutton Rogan Josh (mutton marinated and braised in spices such as Kashmiri chili, cardamom and cinnamon, cashew nut paste and tomato puree), among others. More familiar favorites included the flavor-laden Chicken Curry, and the Chicken Tikka, and by way of a sweet northern-style finish, Gulab Jamun (sweet dumplings made with milk solids, ghee or butter, maida flour, lemon juice, rose water, sugar and cardamom powder), and Curry-spiced Chocolate Bonbons were instant hits.
As for South-Indian fare, legumes, rice and stews are the top palate pleasers, with sambar powder being the main spice and curry leaves the preferred herb. Almost all South Indian dishes use coconut milk as a main ingredient, and spice levels are generally higher and hotter than North Indian food. Although Chef Sanjay pointed out that spice levels were reduced for the dishes brought forth at the festival, in order to ease newbies into the joys of Indian gastronomy. To introduce diners to southern goodness, Chefs Ajith and Sanjay cooked a sumptuous Prawn Curry using raw mango mash instead of tamarind as a souring agent, Black Chick Pea and Aloo Curry, and Kerala Prawn Masala (Tiger prawn with coconut curry leaves, ginger and chili), to name some treats. Rice Kheer Barfi (Indian rice pudding – which is popular across the country, not just in the south of India – made with basmati rice, milk, nuts and saffron) was also on the roster of desserts.
Every day, deliciousness!
While the Road to Gurgaon Indian Food Festival may be over, diners can look forward to deliciousness every day of the week at The Café. This interactive show kitchen restaurant offers a mouthwatering array of dishes from its many stations: Italian, Grill and Griddle, Asian, Deli, Comfort Food and Favorites, and Pastry. Experienced chefs are at the helm of each culinary counter and live cooking theaters, ensuring the high quality and top-notch taste of The Café’s gastronomic delights.
Visit the Hyatt City of Dreams Manila’s The Café, for an appetizing, satisfying encounter of Epicurean proportions. Expect more exciting international food promotions and festivals, in future, at The Café.
By ANGIE DUARTE