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Gandhi’s Birthday Feast

Ghandi Statue

Today is Gandhi’s Birthday, a major holiday in India. He is revered as the father of modern India, now 60+ years ago. A man of strong will and gentle ways, he led the (mostly) nonviolent ejection of the British from their largest colony, and was featured on the cover of Time magazine three times. He is considered one of the 100 most important people of the last century; indeed, he came in second to Albert Einstein in the Time 100 list.

A great birthday must, of course, include a feast. I had no idea what was traditional in Hyderabad for this auspicious day, so I made up my own. I stored up sufficient hungy to guarantee I would need a large buffet to satisfy, then I headed to Encounters to start my foraging. (I would have gone to Firdaus, but I was saving them for dinner when I planned some Serious Banqueting.)

Apparently the Holiday combined with rain (lots of rain today) to make the crowd very light. Good, I thought; more for me! And the infighting to get at the curry line would be nil to nought, which surely would avoid a major toll on my insteps and ribs. Oh, I usually give as good as I get, but why fight if you don’t have to?

I grabbed a plate and surveyed my options. The first thing I noticed was the local specialty, Dum Ki Gosht Biryani (Mutton and Rice). There were nice serving plates of Dal Tadka and Keema Pao, both featuring plenty of chickpeas. Gosht Rogan Josh is another lamb dish that was prominently displayed, and I simply couldn’t resist. (Not that I was managing to resist any of this tasty stuff.)

There was a whole collection of tikka dishes too: Murgh Tandoori Tikka, the classic red chicken dish; Murgh Tikka Lababdar, something like Murgh Tikka but with a spicy sauce of onions and tomatoes; and Paneer Tikka Achari, a nice cheese dish with lots of tomatoes and spices.

After polishing off that massive hoard small starter plate I ventured back into the fray. Another biryani had made its way to the sacrificial altar, so I scooped up some to start the next innings. Murg Pulao (Stovetop Chicken Biryani) is a tasty concoction I’ve had here before; it smelled as good as ever. I supplemented with Dhania Dhingri Mutter, a fragrant dish of peas and mushrooms with lots of cilantro. I found a bowl of Mirpakaya Kodi, which turned out to be pan-fried chicken and green chiles in a light but very tongue-tingling sauce. (Yes, I remembered about the green chiles, just in time.)

By this point in the marathon dining session I had just about run out of options. Fortunately there was a little Phul Gobi left, and some lonely-looking Chettinad Pulau. I tasted some, but I wasn’t feeling too peckish anymore, so my heart wasn’t really in it. the pulau was great, though! Fluffy rice, bits of chicken, lots of spices. Not overly zesty, this one.

Finally I relented and headed over to the dessert bar to see if anything was calling my name. I found some Kesari Burfi that were almost past their eat-me-now date, so I put them out of their misery. Then I headed up to the room to put me out of my misery…

Enjoy the (Massive Gandhi Birthday) Heat!

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