The Persian food festival (Feb 18 – Feb 29) at Nawab Saheb Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre showcases the concoction of different ingredients and flavors where most of the dishes gave a delicious experience. Thousands of years ago, Persian food culture significantly influenced our Indian cuisine, and it was amazing to note that how my brief excursion to this food festival opened the tales of Persian and Indian food connection.
“JVLR jaam lag raha hai madam.” my driver said to me in an annoying tone, and I could envision myself in the madness of traffic for the next one hour. On the way to Powai, JVLR road is the most horrifying obstruction, and my nightmare was about to come true. Fortunately, the traffic showed some mercy to me for the first time, and I was out of it within minutes. My instinct and visceral feelings indicated a thrilling encounter ahead, and I was all set to experience the same.
I have attended many food festivals; however, on the behest of Pooja Trehan Dhamecha (@nuvofoodies on Twitter), my latest sojourn to experience the Persian food festival at Nawab Saheb Renaissance Mumbai convection centre hotel was unique in its own way where I got a glimpse of the Persian or Irani cuisine. At the same time, it was an opportunity for me to learn more about the Persian food culture as the festival showcases the concoction of different ingredients and flavors coming from the realm of the Persian cooking.
We do see a facet of Persian food culture in our Indian cuisine, particularly in Mughlai and Parsi food. Various invasions and friendly visits have enhanced the diversity of the Indian food where the rulers introduced their culture and ingredients to our country. For instance, it is said that in 500 BC, Iran’s greatest King invaded the north western part of India, and he introduced various ingredients such as Spinach, pistachios, almond, and pomegranate. During this time, they were introduced to rice, a grain indigenous to India, and it became one of their staple foods.
The Mughals also integrated Persian and then prevalent North Indian cuisine, and they too influenced our food culture. Their talented cooks married the Persian flavors with the strong Indian spices and so was born the Mughlai cuisine, of which Biryani is a famous invention.
Interestingly, my brief excursion to this food festival took me to a journey through time where I understood the similarities between Persian and Indian food culture.
The food festival which celebrates a part of the the Persian culinary world has kicked off on February 18 at Nawab Saheb, one of the signature restaurants in Renaissance, and it will continue till February 29. I, along with the few other bloggers, was invited to a well organized event where we experienced the melange of Persian flavors and enjoyed their few delicacies.
I marveled at the serene beauty of Nawab Saheb where the Mughai style ambiance is a stellar aspect. The radiant vermillion décor was alluring, and it’s aura engulfs you within minutes. You are compelled to notice its sublime fine dining facet and its almost compartmentalized dining sections which look perfect for family gatherings or special events. The place does leave you in awe and you start expecting a lot in terms of food.
Finally, the food……
The buffet is spread across five appetizers and five entrees for vegetarians, like me; however, for obvious reasons, the vegetarian menu appeared a tad small in front of the lavish non-vegetarian section. No complains thus far, and I was quite satisfied with the vegetarian options.
The vegetarian appetizers consisted of: Paneer Kabobi (Paneer Tikka), Abadan falafel (Veg Patty), Kooku Sabzi (Veg Kabab), Meva Seb Kabab, and Broccoli Tandoor.
The first three appetizers were average. Their presentation and preparation were up to the mark; however, the flavors were a tad let down. I expect smokiness and brilliant flavors from Paneer Tikka, but the subtlety did not give me the punch. Similar was the case with falafel and veg patty where the visual appeal and the preparation were too good, but the flavorful experience was missing.
However, Seb(Apple) kebab and Broccoli tandoor simply outdone every appetizer where their punch of flavors were in incredible harmony. Perfectly smoked with delicious seasoning, the explosion of flavors on my palate resulted in a great experience, and I was just smitten by them. The sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness reached a point of equilibrium and delivered a heavenly dish.
The appetizers were much better as compared to the entrees.
In all honesty, the average quality of entrees did not compel me to splurge on them; but the lentil stew and the Kuresh Panir (an assortment of parsley, spinach, coriander, and red beans) were quite good. One of their eggplant dishes absolutely repelled me; however, please note that the taste is subjective sometimes. Few basic recipes cannot be changed and this is what the chef explained to me at the time of my feedback.
Their lavish dessert counter signaled a happy ending, and yes, most of them were too good. Our feast was replete with good food and the wonderful conversations with the chefs.
Nawab Saheb Renaissance has a hospitality par excellence. This unlimited buffet spread costs 2000 INR (exclusive of taxes) for vegetarians, and I found it to be a good deal. Enjoy this Persian food festival at a beautiful restaurant and let your palate play around with the flavors.
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N.B. This was a food tasting invitation; hence, the meal was on the house.