Paprika, the all-day dining restaurant at Courtyard by Marriott, brought in the tastes of Lucknowi cuisine to Chennai with their Awadh food festival.
Setting the place alight with his disarming smile, Executive Sous Chef Amit explained how Awadhi cuisine had been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques. Dishes are cooked over a slow fire and spices and dry fruits are used in abundance.
The kababs arrived a tad late but more than made up in taste - the mashed peas and potato kabab was soft and melted away without the help of a dip. The fish and chicken kababs were succulent while the lamb kabab was a little rubbery.
Chef Amit's expertise is unmistakeably evinced in his soups - the dal dhania shorba had just the right amount of coriander powder and a whiff of pepper. The yakhni shorba was a perfect concoction of meat, bone marrow and spices.
The vegetarians guests were undoubtedly the Nawabs of this festival what with the great array of dishes spread out for them. Raaga paneer - cottage cheese cooked in cashew gravy - could have been listed the connoisseur`s choice. The dum ki gobi and subz-e-gulbahar were mildly flavoured and went well with the tandoori rotis. Then there was the aloo khusnuma - baby potatoes cooked in almond gravy - of which you could not deny a second helping. We were taken by surpise by one dish - the Nizami bhindi in which slit lady's finger was cooked with an assortment of dry fruits and spices. My favourite dish turned out to be something I wouldn`t have imagined I would like - exotic achari bharwan karela which was bitter gourd stuffed with vegetables and dry fruits and cooked in spicy gravy.
The non-vegetarian section comprised the mahi tamatar - light fish curry cooked in irresistable tomato gravy; murgh noorjahani - where soft and chewy chicken blended well with the spices; and the badami gosht pasanda that fell heavy on the palate.
The live counters comprised the tawa biryani cooked on a dum which set an exquisite aroma wafting through the floor, the kebabs and of course Chef Amit`s speciality - delicious kesar jalebi with rabdi.
The overbooked buffet confirmed the success of the festival, as Chef Amit Dash would vouch.