Mahmoodabad Food Festival at Dilli 32

Digging into some nawabi dishes, we discovered a world of creams and yesteryear curries.

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If you are among the few who don’t know where Mahmoodabad in India was or is, welcome to my boat. I didn’t know about this region until I got the invite for the Mahmoodabad Food Festival from The Leela Ambience Convention Hotel Delhi. My search showed that Mahmoodabad estate was among the larger feudal estates in the erstwhile kingdom of Awadh, now Sitapur district in Uttar Pradesh. It was founded in 1677 by Raja Mahmud Khan, who was a descendant of the first caliph of Islam. These few lines gave me an inkling of what to expect while ‘Dining with the Maharajas’. Lavish, extravagant, this was going to be a feast for the gluttonous. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The festival, on till October 15, is part of the hotel’s policy of offering something different throughout the year. As their dinner-only restaurant, Dilli 32, is where Indian cuisine is felicitated, this is where we landed. With live music and a lavish buffet, the festival has an extensive offering. From starters to desserts, you will be spoiled for choice. The menu changes daily as Chef de Cuisine Ashwani Kumar Singh wishes to recreate the lavish lifestyle and extensive cuisine culture of the rajas. There are some traditional dishes such as nehari, ghosht makhane ka korma, zamin doz machli, murgh mirch dumpukht, kachi mirch ka paneer, dabi arvi ka salan, zarda and more. Responding to our query on the feast, the Chef says, “It was a meal for the nawabs. Could it have been lesser than this?”

The interesting bit is the décor which tries to recreate the magic of the rich estate and the thalis. You can also enjoy a drink while you dig into this feast. I went for Hendricks gin and tonic. And do end it with some paan and keep a lot of time on your hands. It is going to be a long meal, as you enjoy live ghazals too.

Price: Rs 1,677 plus taxes (that’s the year the estate was founded); for children Rs 800 plus taxes.

A tip: Take a bite of everything and then decide which dish to take for the second helping. The desserts can’t be missed. The fish and korma are surely unmissable. Don’t count your calories.

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