Maharashtra is home to a medley of cuisines. Saoji cuisine in Nagpur is famed and feared for its off-the-chart spice quotient, while Malvani cuisine from the Konkan belt liberally uses coconut and is adored for its fish preparations. Last year, the ‘Best of the West’ food festival at Novotel gave us a glimpse of Marathi fare. Now, Westin Hyderabad is offering foodies in the city an opportunity to take a deep dive into Marathi cuisine through the ‘Taste of Maharashtra’ food festival. The festival is being helmed by Chef Uday Karmalkar from Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai.
The ‘Taste of Maharashtra’ festival is being hosted at Seasonal Tastes, with dishes from state occupying a sizeable chunk of the buffet spread. I was invited to a tasting session on the second day of the festival. As always, Seasonal Tastes was buzzing with activity. Most of the tables were occupied, and the live counters were dishing out piping hot food at a frantic pace. The first counter showcased the famous Bombay street food – from masaledar Pav Bhaji and lip-smacking Vada Pav to buttery Tava Pulav. It’s the perfect way to begin your meal. This trifecta of chatpata dishes will leave you craving for more.
I’m a huge fan of Missal Pav, a dish that remains agonisingly rare in Hyderabad. I was excited to see Missal on the spread, however, the Missal at the Westin buffet is a completely different beast than the one that I fell in love with at Aaswad (Dadar). The thin, fiery broth or rassa that adds the spunk to this dish was completely absent. The final live counter, titled ‘Mumbai Cha Koliwada’, offered a variety of fish grilled to a sauce of your choice (yellow, green, or red). Unfortunately, this one also was a dud. The marinade was barely skin deep, and fish had quite a few scales.
The live counters proved to be a mixed bag, but the dishes in the main course were on song. Kombdi Vade – a Malwani delicacy that combines spicy chicken curry with fluffy Poori was one of my favourites of the meal. The Poori also paired well with Mutton Kanda Fry, a spicy Kolhapuri delicacy. Another highlight of the meal was the Bombay Masala Komdi Biryani, a Mumbai style spicy and aromatic Chicken Biryani loaded with finely sliced fried onions. If you are in the mood for some simple steamed rice, Narali Chicken, another Malwani preparation with a luscious coconut milk based gravy, is the perfect accompaniment. Some of the vegetarian dishes available were Puneri Aloo, Urda Methi, and Malvani Chhole.
Seasonal Taste’s dessert counter is always a sight to behold. There were three Maharashtrian desserts on offer – the legendary Modak, Puran Poli and Shrikhand. The Shrikhand, which is prepared by straining yoghurt and sweetening it with sugar, had a surprisingly aggressive tart flavour, but I still enjoyed it. Some of the other desserts that caught my fancy included Kaiserschmarrn (Austrian shredded pancake), Mango Tart, Honey Litchi Mousse Cake, Mango Parfait, and Rose and Litchi Parfait.
Chef Uday has curated half a dozen menu for the festival, which will be deployed on a rotational basis. However, the vast spread of Seasonal Tastes means that each meal should have something on offer for everyone. The festival is on until 26th May at Seasonal Tastes by Westin Hyderabad (Lunch – Rs. 1487 AI, Dinner – Rs. 1720 AI, Brunch – Rs. 2527 AI).