Kingdom of Food (Dreams - Part 2)
This is part II of Parul’s series on Kingdom of Dreams. Read part I here.
Where do I begin? Reminds you of the song ‘Love Story’ doesn’t it? Well, sometimes things like food, friends, family, books, cars can make you as mushy as love! Well for me, it’s usually food that figures in with the word ‘love’; after family that is and when food is served or cooked for me like it were for family then added kudos to the chef. Now begins the culinary journey across ‘Culture Gully’ at the Kingdom of Dreams, this whole post is another massive reason to come for the day because you can’t possibly consume all that there is in one meal or many for that matter, its a discovery in every pavilion! I was hosted at the Lucknow pavilion, very Indian burlesque in terms of grandeur and again straight out of Mughal-e-Azam! Kingdom of Dreams boasts of 140 chefs and it is only after my meal that this figure was truly justified in my head! They have a total of 14 State Pavilions, themed restaurants, street bars and both a tea and a coffee shop.
I started with the quintessential Kakori Kebab, delightful, beautiful meaty flavours and subtle hints of whole spices but what really intrigued me was a shocker, the Zimikand Kebab. Just the jolt I needed to get over my meat fixation! The Nihari was a piece of work; I envy the produce accessible to kitchens like these because I rarely see such excellent cuts of mutton in retail. This was thoroughly enjoyed with soft naans and a wondrous khameeri roti, bless the tandoor. I will be going back again and again for the Haleem because there is only one other kitchen in Gurgaon that does real justice to a dish this fine and they too are slacking. I was glad to enjoy the Hyderabadi biryani instead of the Lucknawi, only because I love the hit from a good biryani; there is only so much one can take of subtle flavours – sometimes you need something hard hitting! All this while, a part of my mind was hanging around the West Bengal pavilion, thinking of my aunt in Calcutta, trying to conjure those aroma’s and there it was – the Chingri Malai Curry, damn damn good.
I am actually feeling awkward typing this because one rarely eats a dozen dishes, all of which turn out to be crowd pleasers; what blessed chefs, they make so many people happy! Food floated past me, making me feel like this pavilion certainly suited this kind of gormandizing. By this time I had met Maharaj, the chef from the Rajasthan Pavilion. He was like all our bauji’s put into one – a happy, loving, warm human being with a heart that beats for food. He brought me Dal Baati Churma like the one I had as a 12 year old in a Jodhpur home; 14 years on I am yet to forget that taste. Talking of food, we began discussing regional cuisines and ingredients, I told him I loved Ker Sangri. He produced it in minutes and said, no matter how expensive it is, I will always serve it… love!
The journey continued with food talk, I learned do much that it was humbling. Some of the chefs came from generations of khansama’s and cooks, preserving recipes that royalty partook ages ago. I love food with a good story and that’s what this experience was. These were not hyper-customized dishes with chefs wrangling for innovation and all that jazz. This was all real good, Indian food, starkly different yet from one land to another. For dessert we had the Dessert Dosa from Kerala; you will love the banana one – I liked the pineapple one too. I studied in the south, so anything hopper-ish with tropical fruits is a must have for me. Jalebi with Rabri is a dessert I am very careful about ordering. Being an old-Delhi girl I know my Jalebi/Rabri well and this one hit the bulls eye. Two major eye openers! Do try the Pushtaini Halwa set in kulhars from Rajashtan and the Khubani Ka Meetha from Lucknow. This particular dessert used to be gift, Bibi, a family friend from Lahore then Lucknow would send on Id when we were little kids. See what I mean about preserved recipes? ah nostalgia!
Filter coffee and Tamilian snacks completed the day, with thanks in my heart, glorious joy in my tummy, I bid adieu to a place I am super lucky to have next door!
More information on prices
Entry – 299/- per head with no entry fee on weekdays (Tuesday to Friday) and 499/- (Saturday and Sunday) with no entry fee, throughout the day. The entry fee on a Public Holiday is 750/- with an entry charge of 100/- per head.