Food Review: Rajasthani Food Festival @ Hornby’s Pavilion, ITC Grand Central

Food festivals at 5 star hotels never excite me especially when it is a buffet. The sheer number of dishes tend to overwhelm me and I end up being confused and mixing up the tastes. The Mewar Food Festival at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Hotel which I attended a while back changed my perspective a bit. The food was served in a thali, the traditional way of eating Rajasthani food. Of-course, the food was great and authentic to the core.

I had similar expectations when ITC Grand Central invited a bunch of bloggers to the Rajasthani Food Festival at Hornby’s Pavilion. Chef Kailash who has worked at the royal kitchens in Rajasthan had specially come down from Kolkata to design the menu.

The fact that it was a buffet rather than a thali was a little disappointing. Along with Rajasthani, a table for Chinese, Sushi and North Indian food was also set. A little out of place but clearly the hotel has to cater to all kinds of guests.

I stuck to the Rajasthani cuisine since that’s what I was there for. After a quick tour of the buffet with the Chef we picked our plates and started off with paneer til tikka, chicken kebab, bharwan mirchi; big green chilli stuffed with peanuts, fennel etc. Paneer tikka wrapped in til or sesame was crunchy. The stuffed chilli was juicy and despite the fact that I don’t eat very spicy food I finished it all.

While we were trying out the starters the attendants mixed us a bowl of dal, bati and choorma with a spoonful of ghee in it. The hot panchmeli dal over crispy batis made me want to dig in right-away, so much so that I didn’t even wait for a spoon. To wash down all the ghee I called for a masala chaas which was quite a surprise. Apart from regular jeera and dhaniya it had a subtle flavour of heeng.

The main course also had dishes like laal maas, chicken kadhi, peanut curry, bajre ki roti, khar ke papad etc. Laal maas was cooked well but the curry was a little too oily and didn’t stand out. Chicken kadhi was the star dish for me. The curry was light with a flavour of saunf and a little kadhi like sourness in it. 

The dessert section had ghewar and lapsi along with the regular mousse, pastries and puddings. Not a ghewar fan, I decided to try out a little lapsi which tasted a lot like daliya or porridge.

The food was good and I was overfed, no doubt. But being ITC Hotel the expectations were higher than what we were served. I would’ve loved more variety in the starters. Being a big fan of ITC’s food I hope that the meal is more elaborate next time.

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