The history of Persian cuisine is as rich and storied as the region it belongs to. It’s a cuisine whose origins can be traced all the way back to the antiquities and has been influenced by the traders from different countries over the centuries. While the influence of the middle-east on the modern Indian cuisine is well known, it’s little known that rice itself is believed to have been introduced to Persia from the Indian subcontinent. Westin Hyderabad is hosting Chef Gopalakrishnan from the Persian Terrace at Sheraton Grand Bangalore to showcase many such different facets of this fascinating cuisine.
Chef Gopalakrishnan, who was stationed in various countries in the Middle East for over a decade, is showcasing his favourites from the region at Casbah – Westin Hyderabad’s Mediterranean speciality restaurant. I was invited to a masterclass followed by lunch with the Chef where he walked us through many of the dishes from his menu. First up, was the cold Mezze Platter featuring Pita breads in various avatars and an assortment of dips. For me, the highlights were the Sumac and Zatar infused Pita and the sweet and sour Muhammara (blended walnut and tomato bell pepper). Chef Gopalakrishnan had lined up an array of scrumptious appetisers for us. The Chello Kebab Koobideh in the menu instantly caught my attention. The Chelo Kebab of Peter Kat at Park Street (Kolkata) has acquired a legendary reputation over the decades. I was eager to see how this stacked up. The dish that arrived left me rather confused as there was no Chelo – the buttery, saffron infused long-grained rice. The dish proved to be bit of a misnomer, but the minced meat Koobideh Kebabs, however, were terrific. Mildly spiced, with just a hint of sumac, the Kebabs let the flavour of the meat to do all the talking. The charbroiled fish fillet skewers (Mahi e Kebab) and Spinach and Cheese Fatayer were among my other favourites.
The main course showcased three gravies – Vegetable Salona, Khoresht Bamia, and Khoresht Fesenjan. The Salona and the Bamia featured a rich tomato base, with the former having an assortment of vegetables and the latter featuring Chicken and Okra. The Fesenjan was quite unlike anything I have tried before. Most Persian dishes are restrained and feature mild flavours. Not the Fesenjan though. This is a rich gravy with an unique combination of toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses. This lends it a fabulous sharp yet nutty flavour with a hint of sweetness. This is a dish that I hope finds a place in Casbah’s regular menu.
Along with Cashbah, Seasonal Tastes is also hosting a Persian Food Fest. Many of the dishes from Cashbah, including Mezze, Shawarma, Sambousek, and Grills will be featured in the Seasonal Tastes buffet spread. At Casbah, the dishes can either be ordered from the a la carte menu, or patrons can opt for a set meal that’s priced at Rs. 3000 (plus taxes) per person.