Himalayan odyssey

A menu that has delectable flavours of undivided Punjab will take you on a culinary journey from the land of five rivers to Kashmir, Khyber and Lahore

Indus Express at Vivanta Dwarka brings to you the finest influences flavours of undivided Punjab, with hints of the bordering provinces — Khyber, Kashmir, Faisalabad and Lahore. That evening we were taken on a culinary journey through the land of bustle, colour and flavours as some of the classics were presented by the chefs. They paid a perfect ode to the land of the five rivers — Jhelum, Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, and Chenab — which flow through the Indus basin region.

We were made to taste some of the signature dishes from the menu — like Nihari Gosht, Dum Murgh Lahori, Baigan Mizaz, Nadru ke Kebab, Charga Murgh, Afghani Kabuli Palao and Peshawari Seekh Kebab.

Chef Pranshu Kanwal, Chef De Partie, explained the preparation of Nihari Gosht where he makes sure lamb shanks are slow cooked for up to six hours, which makes the marrow dissolve in the gravy, enriching its body and adding a fulfilling taste. “We have developed a unique spice mixture which imparts the taste to the dish,” he added with a smile, not revealing the secret.

Dum Murgh Lahori is the street food of Pakistan; Lahori Murgh hails from Lahore. The chicken is cooked by the traditional dum method and is flavoured with mint and hand-pounded Lahori spice which has 16 whole spices. Peshawari seekh kebab gets its right texture from the selection of meat which is coarse, chunky and juicy. The chunks can be felt in every bite and one can relish the tender and succulent kebabs.

”Raan-e-Khyber is a royal delicacy made with the entire leg of a young lamb which is soft and delicate. It is marinated for 24 hours before it is cooked which infuses the flavours to the core of the flesh. Serving it with stewed gravy in which the raan is cooked, makes it a perfect dish to relish till the last bite,” informed Chef Kanwal.

We simply loved Kebab-e-Bannu — the native dish of Bannu district. The preparation calls for patient cooking as the chicken morsels are cooked in a tandoor and then delicately coated with an egg that forms layers on top of the kebab.
For vegetarians, the highlight of the tasting menu was surprising — a humble yet vivacious dish Baigan Mizaz. It was delicious with a nice smoky flavour as it was tempered in live charcoal and named aptly — Mizaz —to refreshes the diner’s mood.
Laal Mirch Tadka Palak tempered with red chilies and garlic with a tadka of ghee and heeng that made it outstanding. Then there was Pista Khumbani Kofta — prepared in a traditional way — where the cottage cheese dumplings are filled with apricots and are served in a pistachio based gravy which is a unique blend in itself. Flavoured with butter, ghee and finished with fresh cream, this is a rich and tempting vegetarian treat to cherish.
Farmer Lentil Curry was my favourite. A selection of five legumes (dal) that belong to the region where the five rivers flow. The traditional way of preparation where all legumes are cooked in a martbaan which imparts a distinctive taste. Nadru Ke Kebab — deliciously crisp lotus stem — was developed to give competition to the lamb kebabs in the royal house of Kashmir. The stuffing of prunes adds to the tanginess of kebab.
When it comes to drinks, Khyber ki Sardai is a thirst quencher which is flavoured with saffron, almonds, and spices like cinnamon and peppercorn. Freshly squeezed Bahawalpur Ganne Ka Ras with a hint of ginger, lemon and mint is a seasonal delight to revitalise one’s body.
Round off your meal with home-made ice cream, prepared with a secret recipe, in three flavours — paan, Kashmiri anjeer and rose petal.
Have a meal here and see how chefs use hand-ground masalas, grandma’s style of cooking, and pamper you with live tadka and phulkas on the table. With a charming alfresco space by the pool and a semi-open private dining area, culinary adventures at Indus Express never cease.

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