Kanak, the Indian speciality restaurant at Trident Hyderabad, is hosting a food festival centered around NH44. National Highway 44, or simply NH44, is India’s longest highway at 3,745 km. It spans the length of the country and traverses through eleven states – starting from Srinagar and ending at Kanyakumari. The festival menu features three dozen dishes culled from these states.
I was invited to a preview session featuring a set menu designed by the Chef. We began with Aloo Dabara from Kashmir – mashed potato fried with a gram flour batter. This is quite similar to the Aaloor Chop from Bengal, but is mildly spiced without significant heat. For the other vegetarian starter – Tawa Paneer Tikka, we moved onto Punjab. The Paneer was soft and cooked exquisitely, well marinated with a hint of charring and crispiness.
Also from Punjab was Bhatti ka Murgh – a spicy avatar of Tandoori Chicken. A fabulous dish that had been rendered beautifully. The other non-veg starter on offer was Hyderabadi Tala Hua Gosht – chunks of lamb cooked with chillies, mint, coriander, and Indian spices. The Tala Hua Gosht was a little unconventional – instead of small, boneless pieces Kanak had used large chunks with bone. The grease and spice quotient of the dish also had been toned down.
For the main course, we were served Jimikand ke Kofte, Gutti Vankaya, Langarwali dal, Dhaba Gosht, and Meen Kuzhambu. All of the preparations were absolutely delectable. The Jimikand ke Kofte, yam dumplings in a rich creamy gravy, is a popular vegetarian preparation from Uttar Pradesh. It was a nice change from the usual Malai Kofta that’s served in restaurants across the city. The Gutti Vankaya, on the other hand, is a common sight in households across the city. It’s a spicy, stuffed eggplant preparation that pairs beautifully with Indian breads. The flavour and aroma of the roasted Indian spices is what makes this humble preparation so enjoyable. Langarwali dal, which is also known as Amritsari Dal, is a traditional Punjabi dish that’s served in Gurdwaras. It’s a creamy, thick lentils gravy made using split-bengal gram and black gram. I’ve never experienced Langar food, but I loved every bit of the Langarwali Dal dished out at Kanak.
Dhaba Gosht is a spicy lamb curry that draws inspiration from the mutton curries served by the roadside eateries in Punjab, while the Meen Kuzhambu is a Tamil preparation in which fish is simmered with onion, tomatoes, tamarind and red chillies. In a main course selection dominated by North Indian preparations, the tangy Kuzhambu offered an interesting change of palate.
The finishing touches to our meal was provided by Coconut Payasam and Kulfi with Falooda. It’s not quite summer, but Kulfi and Falooda is always welcome. The creamy, delicious Kulfi was an absolute treat. The Coconut Payasam, however, felt a bit off key with the flavour of coconut overpowering the payasam.
The special ‘Fest on the NH44’ menu will be available 7:30 pm onwards, every day until October 8. All the dishes are a la carte, and a meal for two should cost around Rs. 3,000.