Perhaps the best Indianized synonym to yummy food would certainly be ‘Chandni Chowk’. Originally built as a market in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan, this place still remains to be the biggest wholesale market India has to showcase but more than its wares the place is known for its Dahi Bhallas, Fallodas, Kulfis, Chole Kulche, Kachoris, Halwa Poori and many more. With its Mughal origins the place simply had to be known for Mughalai cuisine but it is also equally known for its Awadh cuisine specialties.
Courtyard by Marriott, (City center) had plans for a food festival and what could be better suited than recreating the magic of Chandni Chowk here right in the heart of the city. Courtyard by Marriott has hosted this splendid food festival at their most elite sky lounge – Evviva !
The food festival which is from 12th till the 20th of March has been brought to life by Chef Akhilesh Pathak. Now I had been to City center before but I happen to visit Evviva first time when we were invited to be a part of this exciting food fiesta. The place is simply breath taking with its splendor evident from the tiniest of its element. The place right from the moment you step your foot takes you into 7th heaven. The place spirals and makes you hop a couple of times before you are finally there to awe at its beauty. The view is simply fabulous and the breeze if not the soothing music being played will ensure that you are tranquilized totally to loosen up and get immersed in the experience that Evviva beholds for its patrons. The DJ after a while even went on with some deep and progressive house and my accompanying blogger friend was quick to appreciate him for his collection and setting up the right kind of mood.
We started with some classy mock tails. The theme was summer coolers and they made a perfect statement with their old school recipes.
Aam ka Jam: Kairi panha with a punch of black salt. This wasn’t the everyday panha we are used to have. The drink used some very handpicked raw mangoes which were giving it just the adequate amount of sour and tangy taste it needed coupled with black salt.
Mango Lassi: A variant of traditional drink this one was made using mango pulp and honey instead of sugar. The consistency was not what could have been and there was still a bit of sharp sourness prevailing which was enough to make your jaw muscles salivate. Served in kullad this one was good to snap pictures of. A good drink if not the best.
Angoor and Pundine ka sharbat: This was my favorite for the night amongst the drinks with it striking a perfect balance between sweetness, sourness and freshness that it brought to the mocktail. Served chilled with some ice cubes this was undoubtedly the perfect way to beat the heat. A must try.
Masala Chaas: The theme was desi Indian food and how can it be complete without a kullad of masala chaas. This helped in just the right way to set the mood for starters and all the delectable dishes we were eagerly waiting to gorge on. The chaas was garnished with some freshly chopped coriander which along with cumin made it a perfect way to start the hunger games.
Musallam Tangdi Kebab: This marked the grand entry of the starters when 4 huge chicken leg pieces were served onto a silver platter. The leg pieces were well marinated in lemony masala and then stuffed with minced chicken kheema and then char grilled in tandoor. This was a perfect meat overload. The chicken tangdi was good in itself but the kheema could have used some more flavors. It was pretty bland and in turn caused the dish to be score less than what it could have. Still I would insist on trying this and suggesting Chef Akhilesh how you would like to have it.
Lal mirch ka paneer tikka: Succulent, aptly cooked cottage cheese chunks which were drenched in a yellowish mustard like achari masala. It was like some new mild variant of lemon and chilly pickle was used to give it its unique taste. Decent dish.
Tandoori Pomfret: This was a trip down the memory lane when I was in Kerala as the F n B manager and our host for the night Mr. Jitendra Singh brought a full puffy pomfret right onto our table. The fish used garlic and ajwain in generous quantities. The fish was made to perfection. I would highly recommend this to all those sea food lovers out there.
Chicken Chargah: This was the baap of all meat overloads till date. I mean quiet literally the dish although used Chicken leg pieces, the pieces were so damn huge that it felt like a turkey was being served. The dish is a variant of our traditional tandoori chicken. This one was a straight into the stands for a perfect home run. This is the first thing you order for when at Evviva.
Tandoori zhinga: This came on a live small sighri / Barbeque and used Tiger prawns (sea catch). The prawns were biggest of the size that I have come across and not just size but the texture of the prawn was equally different. Typically fresh water cultivated prawns you are used to eat are kinda slimmy and gooey but these were very dense and meaty. They were sea catch for they had some amount of residual smell left. The prawns were certainly cleaned well and the smell was not annoying but enough to make out that the prawns weren’t cultivated. A different mild subtle preparation of Prawn which again is worth trying.
Nalli nihari: My winner for the night was the good old Nalli nihari. The gravy was absolute lip smacking and left you with a mesmerizing feeling. The gravy was a perfect blend of spices, the consistency was just right, the mutton paya were perfectly cooked to impart the right amount of stickiness. A perfect 10 on 10 from me.
Nargis kofta: A preparation which uses boiled egg encased in mutton kheema hemispheres topped with thick gravy of sun dried onions and tomatoes. A little high on the spicy quotient this one is perfect for mutton lovers who can take a bit of spices on their palette tips.
Haleem: A traditional hyderabadi delicacy I was particularly eagerly waiting for this and declared to them that this will be benchmarked and evaluated critically and so was it. The haleem although good by and large of what you may get in Pune had a lot of scope of improvement. It could use a lot more whole spices (sabot and not powdered) like cinnamon, cloves and peppercorns and could use more balance between the use of pulses and meat proportion. The ghee used was also far less keeping in mind the varied customers that would come to Evviva.
Dhaba daal: Although named as Dhaba daal this was a very thick variant of langar ki daal and was indeed very good. The way it was different from langar ki dal was it didn’t use so many blended daals together but the texture and the flavors were still very wholesome. Would prefer it anyday over the regular daal.
Alu paratha and Assorted bread basket: Paratha for the first time was a big disappointment. It was just way too dry. May be the chef had some fusion or some authentic recipe in mind which didn’t turn out well for some strange reason. Yeah, coz after you have Nalli nihari you know what kind of expertise Chef Akhilesh beckons. The bread basket had plethora of options to choose from and were a good accompaniment to the gravies flowing in our plates.
Mix veg pulav: The pulav was yet again a masterpiece in making as even with the steam oozing out of the pulav you could feel the freshness and richness of the vegies steamed in. The pulav used generous amounts of ghee and that kinda made it very rich and heavy on the tummy.
For deserts we just shared 1-1 bowl of kulfi falooda and pan ice cream. The pan ice cream was spot on with plenty of flavors all swirled into one dish. You could feel the freshness of thandai (mint), the crackling of saunf (fennel), the sweetness of gulkand and much more in every bite you take. Simply loved it. A must try. The Kulfi falooda was equally well but failed to score because of the kulfi which formed the base has turned into an icicle and lost its milky texture and flavor for good. The creamy falooda was too good and even the vermicelli used was perfect just that the kulfi below spoilt it.
Apart from the fruity coolers we also had some cocktails in between along with some of the finest wine. We had some ‘La Reserve’ red wine and two cocktails namely: Sky breeze (vodka, lychee juice, lime) and Typical Indian (Whisky, Pineapple, lemon, coffee seeds). Vaiinettya who was helping us with cocktails surely knows his wines and cocktails well and ensured we had a great time sipping over drinks.
We also has a courtesy visit from the executive chef Mr. Pradeep Sinha who we had a wonderful time chatting to. The F & B manager Mr. Jitendra Singh was a great host and took all the feedback with a smile. Chef Akhilesh was very polite and inquisitive and kept on coming to our table to ensure that we are having the best of the meal and also if we would like any customization to please our palette tips even further. Never had I seen a Chef take the feedback so promptly. He was absolutely engrossed and devoted to ensure that he takes all the feedback he needs to make the festival a huge success and the food more satiable to Pune palette tips. A special thanks to Dev and Mitali for inviting us to this awesome event.
Overall, we had a great time with the hospitality chain and the courteous staff and would love to come back soon to try their regular menu.
Food: 4/5 (average as few dishes pulled the score down)