ALONG THE NH2, FOOD TRIALS
by chef aungshuman & team
okra, marriott hyderabad
Hyderabad always craves for more street food and people from other states complaint about its scene not like Kolkata or Delhi. We never to get see a glimpse of reality. Well, fear not, NH2 Highway Trials by Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre is here to do exactly that for our foodies. Chef and his crew travelled for 10 days non-stop from Delhi to Kolkata to explore the highway street food scenes with immaculate details and this "NH2 Trials" replicates most part of it
Now how did the do this and prove a brand like Marriott notches the whole preparations to another level. Well, listen to this. Executive Chef Aunghshuman , F & B Director Jomy Abraham , Suhasini Trichy (PR) and their team travelled all the way from the capital land to explore the streets of purani dilli and discover amazing delicacies served on streets and small shops and travel along the highway NH2 spanning from Delhi ➡️ Mathura ➡️ Agra ➡️ Allahabad ➡️ Varanasi ➡️ Kanpur ➡️ Dhanbad ➡️ Kolkata . All on road travelling every day and exploring more and more of the street food traditions from each region and incorporating them into the planning and execution. With planning & scheduling for around 45 days, the team came back in September to experiment the dishes and perfect them before the BIG BANG festival. Enough said, this shows the prowess of Marriott to go above and beyond to curate ONE OF A KIND FOOD FESTIVAL. It sounds cliched as I tell that every time they host a fest, but its true and they stand to the testimony of it. Irrespective of the festival feedback, the team as such has to be praised to travel - eat - roam for 10 days back to back without loss of passion and energy , come back to Hyderabad and curate such a fest. HATS OFF TEAM !!!!
Watch out their video teaser below to get to know what's in store for you from the festival and the brilliant journey by the Chef and team. Amazing video by Marriott (Video courtesy - Marriott , Hyderabad)
As I entered into the okra, I looked up and loved the NH2 highway symbol and a tollgate setup at reception and as I was greeted into the tollgate, I knew their home work has been perfected. As I walked by indoors, I saw maps to the cities covered up in this mega street food extravaganza, As I was guided into the outdoors, it was like a shaadi ka damaka setup. Lit perfectly for a pool side breezy night, the decor and ambience was picture perfect.
The whole live counter section has been detailed and mimicked to have same setup like the original regional influence to give you the authentic feel. One side you got delicacies from Delhi and the whole other section focussed on the Kolkata and its influenced street food scenes.
This one of a kind festival is officially starting from 14, Nov 2018 till 01, Dec 2018 for dinners only. Weekday dinners are priced at 1800++ and Sunday brunch with unlimited alcohol at 2300++ at Okra. I should say for the pricing, you get to d a travelogue from delhi and kolkata, experience the whole live counters and still not able to cover the entire array of delicacies. It will definitely take multiple visits to try each of 'em.
The Delhi scenes had some iconic stalls setup. The paranthe wali galli stall immediately grabbed my attention with their delicacies and varities of parathas where you can chose the stuffings and made fresh for your taste buds. Next is the ever lovable chai counter serving hot garam-a-garam chai with Naankatai (traditional butter biscuit), one bite they are just pure heaven as they just melt in your mouth kinds. The Tijendar dhaba counter gives you cravings for your kebab and chur chur naan dreams. Chur Chur naan is not yet famous into hyderabad with only a couple of places trying to serve authentic experience but if you know the street food scenes from Delhi, you know the crazy following behind this dish. The chur chur naan thalis also had variety of options to chose from and again made to order. The Kebabs were also so flavorful with aroma engulfing the scene. I tried the chicken tikka, fried fish and many more and they (though a tad cold , due to weather) were flavorful and stood testimony to the original tijendar dhaba.
The famous Karims known for their fragrant non-veg curries had an exclusive section with some amazing butter chicken, chicken korma and many more served with warm and aromatic sheermals and dozen assortments. Lovely counter and I can just imagine how the original Karims would taste <3 Also was another counter serving hot and fresh kachoris and samosas , again served fresh on order and to your choice. Another separate counter for Kulchas and all sorts of assortments made the DILLI fun-fare all the more interesting. Overall the Delhi section impressed me mighty and I can just imagine how much more will the actual Delhi street food scenes. This short trip to Delhi was quite satiating to me.
Amidst the fun-fare of street food in each counters, I took detour to their innovative desi daru cocktails and after trying quite a few, I could say, the drinks were so perfect for the spicy and hot Indian food. Cutting Chai made with Baileys I guess had a wonderful dark choco n coffee flavors and was so refreshing and serving in an actual cutting chai setup was icing on the cake. The regular Gin n Tonic from the bar on my request was refreshing and this combination doesn't get bored off. Banaras Paaan , a replica drink based on the actual banaras paan was vodka concoction served over the betle leaf in martini glass. Again on point drink quite refreshing as well. Rum Jaggery made out of rum and jaggery combination was a tad strong and sweet for me but served in typical daru bottle you used to get the bar shops, the presentation was captivating.
As I walked by, this Bihari counter attracted me with its Murmure Mutton, and I tried it instantly and it was delish. Typical jhaal muri served with slightly gravy types mutton was something different yet felt local in my palate. Mithais mela from Mathura & Agra was nothing sort of stellar. With plethora of options, you can just sugar high by just looking at the options and if you are bored of food, you turn a side for the yummy and super rich Lassi Counter served on matkas and is sure going to stuff you. The Chaat counter from Agra was also another crowd puller with live aloo tikkis and other chaats done on order. Of course , another attraction from Litti Choka , the delicacy from Maharastra, served with the typical brinjal chutney and other condiments. Each of this counter was serving something that locals are not used to relish but have tonnes about it. Another unique dish from Agra Ki Bedai Poori Sabzi counter was poor served with Sitapal ka Sabzi by the name but on enquiry was actually pumpkin curry types and was perfect combination with hot besan pooris. Must try.
With food completely stuffed inside me, I took break beside the pool to unwind with those amazing daru cocktails. And then the land of rosgullas beckoned me to enter into Kolkata Kingdom. This was more appealing as Im still novice to this sector of street food scenes and I have only heard much about it. Tried with the world famous Jhalmuri (murmure mixed with spices n lemon), quite popular and the live counter was again refreshing and authentic as it can get. The Chinatown counter from Kolkata served a plethora of asian street food options. Right from bao mushroom soup, fresh lemon chicken, sweet n sour pork and everything you can imagine on stir fry options. The other side also was serving momos based on your choice.
The other stretch was selling the ever famous Kolkata khatti rolls , with options in meat for customer's choice. like egg roll, chicken roll, mutton roll, Egg Chicken roll and many more Another live counter was serving the ever delicious curries from the region. Chicken Chaap, Mutton Chaap,Dimer devil and many more. By this time, I was physically and gastronomically exhausted to the rim and I called it officially TIME OUT. Sounds like a exhaustive food tour isn't it?
LIFE TIME EXPERIENCE
Street foods from Delhi to Kolkata
15+ live counters
Pool side open dining experience
Endless options and varities to die for
Chef Aungshuman & his team have gone above and beyond to bring the land of Biryani something that's quite a gastronomical magic. Its a adventure and experience by in itself to walk by and relish delicacies from 7 cities in one place and getting to experience the feel of street food in fine dining setup. The preparations and home work are just immaculate that you get immersed yourself into a festival mood and unwind yourself and cherish the whole experience. You got more than just food in such unique fest and its going to be a wonderful memory.
Thanks Marrriot Team for hosting such a brilliant fest.
Disclaimer : This review and experience is based on invite by restaurant