Sunday, March 2, 2014

Circles Events Cafe Brings The Delights of Delhi Cuisine This March

I've always been fascinated and curious with authentic Indian cuisine and now, the very best of India comes to Manila at the Makati Shangri-La...

In partnership with BDO, Circles Events Cafe lets guests experience a taste of authentic Indian cuisine as chefs from Shangri-La's-Eros Hotel, New Delhi, bring the rich and distinct spices and flavors of their hometown to Manila for Delights of Delhi, an Indian Food Festival at Circles Events Cafe from March 3 to 14, 2014. The Makati Shangri-La offers local diners a unique taste of Mughlai cuisine, a distinct style adapted from the imperial kitchens of the storied Mughlai empire. Can't get more authentic and flavorful than that...

The culinary heritage and cooking techniques from the northern regions of India are highlighted in Circles Events Cafe's two-week Indian Food Festival, with its range of rich and indulgent dishes from extremely mild to spicy preparations infused with a medley of exotic and aromatic spices. Chef Abhinandan Singh prepares a feast fit for royalty in a sneak peek of Delights of Delhi, with a range of dishes representing the diverse flavors inspired by the Mughlai empire.

My introduction to authentic imperial Indian cuisine begins with a sampler of dips, featuring a mild yet rich and creamy yogurt dip, a flavorful spinach dip and a sharp pickled vegetable chutney, best paired with thin and crisp papadam.

Both flat and rolled papadam were served, made from black gram flour as well as lentils with spices offering different flavors.

A trio of salads were served, including Phalon ki chaat (a traditional vegetable salad), Chicken tikka salad, and Aloo papadi chat (a spiced potato salad). At first, I expected to be assaulted by an overwhelming heat from the spices, but the heat is tempered by a combination of different spices, providing contrasting notes that blend well. It is spicy, not in terms of heat, but in the rich and diverse blend of ground and whole spices for an unbelievable palette of different flavors.  

Zaffrani paneer tikka, a fresh white cheese marinated in spices and grilled in a tandoor oven came next, served with a side of pickled onions and peppers. The grilled outer crust provides contrasting textures to the soft cheese, with the pickled vegetables adding a sharpness to complement the richness of the cheese. A deceptively simple dish with bold and complex flavors, great as is, or with some papadam.

Turra kebab (chicken) and Shami kebab (lamb), a chicken and lamb appetizer that again showcases the rich blend of spices. The Turra kebab is grilled perfectly, tender and moist with a subtle smoky flavor that combines well with the coriander and chili. The Shami kebab is basically a minced lamb patty with a sharp spicy note from the garam masala, black pepper and chili, and balanced with the mild sweetness of cinnamon and coriander. Definitely a new flavor experience for me, and I enjoyed it.

Next, we were served the Dal kali mirch ka shorba, a lentil and black pepper soup. A hearty and comforting soup with delicate flavors, sprinkled with fresh parsley and coriander. With each dish, one gets to appreciate how each spice and herb blend to build different layers of flavor.

The mains were then served, starting with the Paneer haryali korma, a vegetarian dish with chunks of  cottage cheese slow cooked with spinach, cream and yogurt and a mix of spices and herbs including cumin and coriander. The rich sauce pairs perfectly with the crisp papadam, bursting with flavor in every bite.

Murgh shamina, a traditional chicken curry, and a personal favorite. The rich and creamy curry delivers a surprisingly mild flavor, rounded by a buttery note that just works so well with the tender chicken. It's definitely different from the usual chicken curry dish, after all, this is what they served to the Mughlai rulers. Try adding the rich sauce to rice, and you just know this dish is indeed fit for royalty.

Subz diwani handi, a sharply flavored vegetable curry with ginger, onions, garlic, turmeric, coriander, chili and a masala blend. I never thought I'd enjoy a vegetarian dish, and the rich sauce really rounds out the flavors in this unique dish.

Dum Lucknawe Biryani, a traditional rice dish with chicken and long grained basmati rice. The use of ghee, or clarified butter, adds to the richness of this dish, combined with various spices including nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. With tender chunks of chicken, this dish is a meal in itself.

Jhinga dum anari, plump prawns in a thick curry sauce made with a garam masala blend, onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, chili, cumin, and sweet pomegranate that add layers of sweet, tart, a mild spicy heat and sharp notes, a full range of flavors in one dish.

Dal Qurashi, slow cooked yellow lentils with cream, clarified butter and a blend of various spices for another unique flavor experience. Almost like a risotto in texture, the lentils are soft and creamy with a rich sauce.

Missi Roti and Gizwani Roti, traditional flatbreads made with wheat and gram flour, and great for soaking up the rich sauces of the different dishes.

For dessert, Chef Abhinandan Singh served his take on the traditional Shrikhand, a sweet custard-like dessert made with yogurt, cardamom and saffron for yet another combination of flavors enriched by exotic spices.

Pair your dessert with Rose Water Lassi, a yogurt based drink to complete your dining experience. The range of flavors and rich blend of spices at Circles Events Cafe's Delights of Delhi is definitely an experience. Different. Unique. And authentic. An imperial Indian feast not to be missed.

And here's the cool part. Guests who dine for Delights at Delhi at Circles Events Cafe may also get the chance to enjoy luxurious hotel accommodations in Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor in Malaysia and   Shangri-La's-Eros Hotel, New Delhi in India. Now how cool is that? Delights of Delhi is available for lunch and dinner buffet at Circles Events Cafe from March 3 to 14, 2014. For inquiries and reservations, please call Restaurant Reservations at (63 2) 813-8888.

Circles Events Cafe is located at the Lobby Level of Makati Shangri-la, Manila, Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue, Makati City or call 813-8888 for inquiries.

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