Today has been heavy workwise, a full day in our office followed by conference calls till 21:00. Still it has had its (heavily) FoodFun moments too.
At lunchtime my team wanted to take me out to a splendid local buffet. There were many different starters and despite taking small portions, they mounted up. One colleague wanted to be sure I tried different Andran curries, another thought I could not go without trying the Hyderabad biriyani. Despite turning down many appetising options, not least completely avoiding dessert it was a heavy lunch. I am amazed that with jetlag I did not fall asleep in my afternoon meetings.
After getting off my last conf call I had an appetite again. I had taken the calls in my hotel room so decided to try the other hotel restaurant - Peshwari. Not surprisingly it was North Indian food and I really wondered if it would be good this far south; of course having never visited N India my only measuring rod is what I have tried in the UK.
The restaurant was large with tables and stools. The centrepiece was a large glass panel behind which well-dressed tandoor chefs were at work. There were rows of long skewers and it looked like they were working in the heat.
When I saw the menu I thought I had better avoid starters & desert and choose one of the smaller maincourses. The lamb kebab sounded just the job. The waiter asked if I liked garlic - - and recommended a garlic naan. He then pointed out that I had chosen two "dry dishes" and recommended a dall to accompany this; all very logical. I learned to cook dall from a sikh friend at university and would not regard a small portion as heavy.
The miserable photo does no justice to the food.
When I ordered this I expected some nicely marinated diced lamb done in a tandoor oven. It turned out to be a combination of lamb chops and pieces of a lamb shank. In both cases the bones seemed much finer than the lamb I have bought in the UK and I concluded that it was either from a different and smaller type of sheep or more likely from a younger animal.
The lamb was roasted in an incredibly good way. When I have done tandoori dishes (of course in a convential oven!) there have been pitfalls like the meat drying out, too much marinade left and carbonising on the meat, etc. The spicing was good yet there was not too much marinade to end up with carbon. Inside the lamb was pink and increbibly tender. Wish I could do it like that!
I have experienced or cooked homemade dall a lot. Indeed when my PhD funding ran out I lived on dall and pitta bread for a few months; a good diet for a student in penury! However this tasted different. The consistency was quite unlike any other dall and there was a surprising richness to it. Though tasty, it made the meal heavier than expected.
This is a family favourite if we order an Indian takeaway and supermarket naan is an addition to home-cooked curries. In UK restaurants there has been a huge range of quality but in general a naan has a relatively thick dough and fluffy texture.
(As an aside, I was amazed to have pizzas at a country restaurant in Tuscany a decade ago. I was used to rather doughy bases from supermarkets or US-style restaurants. The thin crispy texture and delicate, simple toppings were a revelation to me. Never wanted to touch a deep-pan pizza since then!)
It is probably not possible to see from the photo but this naan was quite different. Firstly, it was barely thicker than a chapatti but with a quite different dough. Secondly it was partly crisp - reminded me of flatbread in S. Turkey. Thirdly instead of the smeared garlic paste or few dots of garlic that naan's have in the UK, this was positively smothered with finely chopped garlic.
If that were UK supermarket garlic I guarantee my stomach would have been burning within minutes! It had to be very mild incredibly fresh garlic.
Two of the waiters noticed that I had enjoyed the food and so I took the opportunity to test my hypotheses:
Firstly, they confirmed that the lamb was at most 8 months old. Probably helped its tenderness.
Secondly, the dall was prepared in an unusual way. It was firstly left in a tandoor oven for 24 hours. So, wouldn't it dry out? However it would be put in a tandoor with embers rather than hot charcoal. However the richness came from adding masses of cream and butter towards the end. He said 50%!
Thirdly, the waiters confirmed that they used garlic for the naan more or less straight from the ground.
With such a heavy dall, British Airways will need an extra 100 litres of fuel on Friday if we are to take off!