If Italian food review from yesterday made your mouth water then Awadhi food is supposed to take your breath away. Like I confessed in my post yesterday that though Italian might be my second favorite cuisine, the first always remains Indian! Indian cuisine is so broad and complex that one can’t even try to pin point the exact number of cuisines that thrive under the broader umbrella of the Indian cuisine. The spices just add to the beauty and diversity in tastes, textures and colors of the regional cuisines in India.
Don’t let the word Awadhi cuisine confuse you for something boring, because if you don’t know what it means then just go back to your history lesson defining the areas that were largely under the region called Awadh or Oudh. Awadhi cuisine comes from the region which was highly influenced by the tastes of the Mughal Courts- UP, Uttar Pradesh. Awadhi cuisine’s lavish food style is an amalgamation of the influences of upper class Hindus and Muslims alike. The food that is fit for Nawaabs. We all know how the words Galouti Kebabs, Tundey Kebabs, Kakori Kebabs make our mouth water and when it comes to Dum Biryani we just can’t control an instant hunger pang that surfaces. In fact, I have friends who must have their share of Tundey Kebabs any time someone they know visits Lucknow. They don’t mind that the Tundeys have to undergo the long train or plane journey. Freshness isn’t an issue at all it’s the mouth watering delicacy that everyone wants a bite of that takes away the cake..or kebab in this case.
So, whenever I am invited for Awadhi cuisine review the meal can not be anything less than exquisite to get into my good graces. Lavana at Hyatt Regency Gurgaon is led by the Master Chef Jaynandan Bhaskar (who previously worked with The Leela- Kempinski, Gurgaon) and was opened for preview tasting sessions with food critiques and other important people. Lavana has opened with the aim for people to relish the authentic crowning delicacies from the land of Awadh as an Awadhi cuisine restaurant, which rediscovers the royal flavors & culinary heritage of Awadhi food. Known for its combination of ingredients and spices and the dum style of preparation, the recipes from the province of Awadh are rich in flavours, aromas and varieties.
To be honest, as a Delhiite I feel Lavana is too far away to want to go and enjoy a good Awadhi meal. Even if it may not be that far it definitely does take a lot of time at the tolls. Do make note that Lavana is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. If it were a Friday night for a common person in Delhi it would mean going after office hours to Gurgaon, and if they are working in Gurgaon and have a family that would mean after working from Gurgaon going back to Gurgaon, that seems like a lot of effort. I think if fine dining is the objective, a person would easily go to Dum Pukht if he is residing in Delhi as it is very centrally located. Logistically, Lavana seems like a feasible option more so for those who are already residing in Gurgaon or if you are from Noida kind of far from Gurgaon then it can be a very good weekend get away to stay at Hyatt and it seems like a great idea to club the stay with the Awadhi cuisine from Lavana for dinner. Frankly, the property in itself has spared no expense to make itself standout. That I think is it’s USP especially since most of the five star properties in Delhi have not kept up with the change that time has brought about. They all are in desperate need of renovation and a complete makeover. The only favorite property of ours is The Leela, Chanakyapuri in Delhi. I am also delighted about the fact that Oberoi is under construction, can’t wait to see the new Oberoi!
One more word of caution it is very easy to miss the U-turn to Hyatt as there is no visible signage on the road, at least we couldn’t spot one at night time. That can be a great mood spoiler especially since you are making special efforts to locate this property in the first place.
Entering Lavana is a beautiful experience, like I mentioned before, their interiors all around the hotel from the lobby to this restaurant are gorgeous. Lavana has live instrumental music where you can request any of the Bollywood numbers, preferably classical because I think that adds up to the ambiance. They even have a separate area if you come for a big family dining experience. Crockery wise there is nothing I can mention that is worth mentioning because obviously I am comparing an Awadhi Restaurant like Lavana to my other favorite Awadhi Restaurant- Dum Pukht. That’s my bench-marking.
One of the things that I judge a place by is how the servers serve. I think despite knowing that I was there for a review on their request, they did not meet my expectations. In fact the serving staff was way below my expectation for a fine dining place. Firstly, they took away my menu whilst I was engrossed in middle of a conversation, I didn’t even get a chance to look at the menu beyond what I would like to drink and place my order. He himself decided that “Chef’s Table” would be the best for me and Puneet, without even consulting with me once. Then thankfully he felt the need to ask me whether I would prefer veg or non veg. For a review, I always sample both veg and non- veg, hence, I told him I would prefer both. However, disappointingly when the order came I was getting only veg and Puneet was receiving the non veg! I mean of course I came to sample the non veg after all it’s Awadhi cuisine! Then I told him I would like the Mutton Galouti too, I mean c’mon, how could I let it pass by! I personally feel it was way too silly of the server to keep alternating between both of us the veg and non veg dishes when both of us wanted to sample both the dishes. Half the times I ended up eyeing Puneet’s food because he was getting more non veg. After clarifying to him thrice that we would like both the veg and non veg he still got us – being me- A veg thali and Puneet got Non veg thali! I had to again request him to please get me non veg thali too. Just explaining it here makes it feel so comical but at that time I thankfully had pleasurable company to take my mind off this..but getting myself to ask him to change the order or add to the order over and over again killed the experience completely. Going to a restaurant and A. not getting to order B. not getting what you want in accordance to your preference.. is I think not going to make my visit memorable anyhow.
About the food, this place prides itself for Galouti Kebabs. You know the same Galouti I had to order again.. because I wanted the mutton galouti too? It tasted great! Amazing. But it was not your typical melt in mouth kebab. The outer crust was a bit crisp meaning hard. That’s not how the Galouti Kebab should be. Also, there was no Dum Biryani! What’s Awadhi meal without the good old biryani!
Apart from this, our experience with the rest of the dishes on the Chef’s Table was good. I especially liked the palette cleansers i.e. Lamb soup and Dal soup, among many other, that the Chef served thoughtfully from his kitchen. The kebab platter we were served was too good! Their potions are huge- you just have to check out the Thali! When after the thali, there came the chance for dessert…I had the same thought as someone who spoke out a little louder in surprise on the next table “Oh my god there’s more?”
This post made me hungry! Comment yes if it made you hungry too!