I was traveling in Spain during the time Masterchef India 2, a reality food show, was broadcast in India, therefore I was not able to follow this season, but those who watched must have seen the culinary skills of the participants, specially of Jyoti Arora, a housewife from Amritsar.
With no professional career, nor a blog space to boast, her culinary skill alone gives her the popularity of being talented and expert chef. All her experience comes from the hours she has spent in her own kitchen for 29 years experimenting on food that is healthy and fat free, erasing the myth that North Indian food is oily and spicy.
April is the Baisaki, a NewYear month, celebrated by various hindu communities in their own way of praying, socializing and eating authentic food. Saffron at Hotel Marriot invited Jyoti Arora to host a typical Amritsar style cuisine at Punjabi Food Festival.
The Saffron restaurant is dressed with sugarcanes and assorted dry spices in large jute sack at the entrance, there are bundles of garlic pods and bottles of fresh lime at the counter separating the area of the kitchen, colorful streamer closer to ceiling giving it a festive look. A live Indian music or folk songs in the background could attract more guests into the restaurant and do justice to the moods.
The food is excellent, non greasy and healthy as the chef promised. Some of the dishes on the menu had names like ‘Beera’ and ‘Prakash’ names of the most famous joints in Amritsar who have shared their recipe with Jyoti.
The melt in mouth Beera Chicken (from the house of “Beera”, the most popular chicken joint of Amritsar) and Amritsari Prakash Meat (Australian lamb, bone cooked on dum in spicy curry), is good enough reason to believe that you are transported to Amritsar.
I could not keep my eyes off these roasted king-size shrimps on skewers that arrived at our table. Perfect cooked, succulent and sweet, it was the dish to die for.
One by one, the dishes arrived, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, till tummy begin to explode. How much can one eat? The food is not very spicy, but you are served freshly chopped onions, green chilies, chutneys and pickles. Jyoti was most gracious, willing to take any criticism (we didn’t have any), sharing her recipes and relating her stories of her hometown and her learning experience during her MasterChef days. Jyoti believes that Punjabi food is all about cooking and feeding the loved ones.
Have you ever eaten chicken pickle? This was awsum! I liked chicken pickle so much that when Jyoti offered me to a bottle to take home, I couldn't refuse. What is interesting is that this chicken pickle can be stored in the fridge for three month and still retain its freshness. I plan to eat on every non-veg days, maybe I could make a nice sandwich too and share with my guests.
Then came the best part, the dessert. A platter of assorted sweets like Jalebi (made from overnight fermented gram flour and cooked in desi ghee), Mango Rabdi (fresh mango pieces with sweetened reduced milk, chilled), Dal Pinni (Lentils cooked in milk and sweetened with jiggery and Gur Ka Karah (traditional dessert made from jaggery) arrived at our table
There were drinks too, that included wine, mocktail, sweet and salty lassi and of course Mawa Lassi, made of just mawa, sugar and crushed ice. Unlike sweet lassi, this Mawa lassi is very light and refreshing.
And like all Indian food must end with, what else? Paan..hmmn delicious!!!
The Punjabi Food Festival can be enjoyed till 18th April, if you are Indian food lover and health conscious, do head to Saffron, at Marriot, because food is yummicious!!!
Restaurant: Saffron, JW Marriott Mumbai
Date: April 02 to 18, 2013
Time: 7 pm onwards
Pricing: Approximately INR 2200 plus taxes for two (without alcohol)
For Reservations: 022 66933344 or log on to www.jwdining.com