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Chef Pawan Manhas on Bidri’s ‘Heavenly Himalayan Trail’ food fest

Chef Pawan Manhas on Bidri’s ‘Heavenly Himalayan Trail’ food fest

Taking a trip to the north is something that requires a lot of time. But if you plan on going for food, the new food festival at Marriott’s Bidri’s is a great way to train yourself of what to expect.

With hands behind his back and a straight back, chef Pawan Manhas is teeming with knowledge of virtually every northern ingredient. Chef Pawan is excited to entertain with flavours from the ‘Abode of Snow’, proving there’s a lot of science that goes into making each dish to suit the locals.

After a lengthy trip to the north, this Jon Snow of cuisine definitely does not know nothing. He speaks about the indigenous ingredients, pointing to the photographs that hang around the restaurant for display. “It’s quite cold up in these regions and people do a lot of physical work, so they’re very mindful that the food doesn’t leave them short on energy or even lethargic,” he says.

Heavenly Himalayan Trail

  • Rates Veg ₹1450 + taxes ; Non-veg ₹1750 + taxes
  • Duration till October 15; for dinner

The external attachment to the restaurant now boasts a sizeable clay tandoor where daals, such as gahat ki daal and bhatt ki churdkani, simmer temptingly over the smoky heat. Next to that, a smaller one has an impressive meat spread, the vibrant colour of rada murga (dry chicken from Himachal) and the crackling cuts of mutton ribs or kabargah.

The usual chutney carousel is replaced with chef Pawan’s made-from-scratch selections. One is made with hemp seeds, their mild and nutty flavour emitting quite a bit of warmth through the body. Another is made of tomato and garlic, which goes with pretty much everything.

After the starters, do dig into the kullu trout. The freshwater fish is a Himalayan treasure and low in sodium too while being packed with a wealth of nutrition. Served whole, the flesh comes off beautifully like silk and each bite brims with flavour. Before digging in, it’s recommended to squeeze a bit of pickled lemon over the fish.

Rada Murga or spiced chicken legs

Rada Murga or spiced chicken legs

For starters, don’t eye nadur monji with scepticism; one bite will have you requesting for seconds. Given arbi is one of the go-to crops in the northern regions, the patrodu is a different take on the tuber we know. Its leaves are rolled and stuffed with spice and wheat flour. The rada murga and the kabargah are also delightful.

The two thalis on offer are vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The thali for non-vegetarian diners has an alubhokhara qorma, indulgent with a plum and yogurt gravy, as well as a chha gosht, pieces of lamb (on the bone, yay!) marinated lovingly in gram flour and yoghurt and spices. If you’re vegetarian, fear not, there are some unmissable dishes and chef Pawan ensures you leave with as full a belly as a meat-lover. What is any thali without potato? The aloo jakiya is a staple while the bhee ki subzi is quite delicious and understatingly crunchy.

Full yet? Be sure to try a nibble of the desserts if you have room. There’s a rich Kashmiri dessert shufta, which should end your vicarious trip on a sweet note.

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