Last week I was invited to take a sneak peek at the Maharashtrian Food Festival at Orchid Hotel, Balewadi. Marking the festive season of Akshay Tritiya and Maharashtra Day, this seemed like a perfect time to organise a festival celebrating the various cuisines of this region.
Right from the main gate, you are welcomed in style with “tutari” playing in your honor, and a tilak on your forehead. The live music and dance, decor and a full on MH experience readies you for the food.
We started off Paya Soup. Now Paya Soup isn’t exactly MH cuisine, but it was tasty and I was hungry, so no complains! Welcome drinks also included aam panna and kokum sarbat – both chilled and refreshing.
Among the starters, the Prawns and Chicken Koliwada were absolutely delicious, with crisp outer coating, and spot on flavor profiles. The Mutton “unde” (balls) and patwadi / kothimbir wadi were pretty dry, and seemed overcooked. There was also a vada pav counter, but I gave it pass.
And then the real fun started, as we moved to the main course counter. They offer 5 non-vegetarian dishes as part of this buffet!
Malvani Fish Curry – Excellent curry, but use of Basa is an absolute crime.
Kolambi Masala – Not the best prawns curry. The cocnut flavor was muted and prawns overcooked.
Gavran Chicken Curry – Beautiful, medium spicy, dark gravy, heavy with ginger-garlic. Sadly the chicken was overcooked and quite tough.
Anda curry – another spicy dark curry. The flavor of ground roasted spices shone through. I did find it a tad oily, but the gravy went beautifully with the rice
Nagpuri Mutton Masala – Just a whiff of this gorgeous dark masala, and I could identify the characteristic strong ‘saoji’ flavors. Super soft mutton pieces, along with the dark nagpuri masala, and this ended up being my ‘paisa-vasool’ dish of the entire buffet spread!
The Veg section also had quite a bit on offer, including Biradi Chi Usal, Shev chi bhaji, Batatachi sukhi bhaji, amti, and a first time for me – Gola Bhat – that tasted quite nice with the accompanying red chilly-tadka- oil
Desserts: The puran-poli was more gud, with hardly any of the trademark elaichi or jaifal. The aamras, while being pure pulp, could have used a bit of sweetness, as it was a bit tooo sour for my taste. They had a couple of innovative desserts, but my pick were the rasmalai mousse and the kalakand cheese cake – a twist on authentic sweet dishes.
All in all, for 999++ its a good deal, specially for non-vegetarians. They are dealing with a new management, and service was definitely an issue. And with the volume of dishes, some of them are hit and miss. However, the flavors of the mutton curry and the non-veg gravies more than make up for the shortcomings, and I did end up a happy camper.
The festival is on till the 7th of the month, so make this coming weekend count!
PS: I was invited for a tasting event as a prelude to the actual festival. The Usual Disclaimer applies.