I have always believed that memories and associations play a great role in our choice of food. My earliest years and fond memories are of my maternal Grandparent’s home in Dharamtolla Street where the call of the muezzins would herald daybreak and Eid would mean standing on the balcony of their home looking down at the devout in their prayers and for a child it was a fascinating canvas. This child was also however a foodie and Ramzan would mean daily treats of the delicious Pakoras of all kinds or if we were lucky the highly prized Mutton Pati Samosa that we would gobble down with glasses of Khus Sherbet. On other occasions came the Haleem which was devoured with equal gusto.
Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is taken right after Maghrib time, which is around sunset. Traditionally but not mandatory, three dates are eaten to break the fast. I was delighted when The Lalit Great Eastern invited me to sample their Iftari Dinner Buffet that was curated by their Executive Chef Madhumita and her Team at Alfresco.
The evening was graced by Mr. Shahenshah Mirza,the descendant of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last ruler of Awadh and his wife Mrs.Fatima Mirza, Mr. and Mrs. Imran Zaki, Ms. Shradha Agarwal, to name a few and what followed were great conversations over some outstanding food.
The spread was staggering to say the least …… we opened our innings with a refreshing Roohafza along with some fresh fruits and an assortment of dry fruits. This was followed by an assortment of fried snacks like Piazu , Aloo Chop , Egg Pakoda and Kheema Pakora which are an integral part of the Iftar spread.
There were salads with a predominant Moroccan theme including Fatoush and Couscous and there were non-vegetarian varieties as well along with a lovely Mezze Bar which had all the bells and whistles including Falafel, Hummus and Babaganoush. Soups and a wonderfully laden Bread counter were there too.
However as its not humanly possible to have eaten so much so I sensibly headed for exactly what had enticed me here… the Iftar Delicacies. There were Live counters for Haleem both Mutton and a Vegetarian version which is surprisingly good , However the star of the show for me is the super Mutton Haleem they put up … great consistency, robust flavors which explode on your taste buds I absolutely loved it. There was also some lovely Kheema Pav , Ghugni and yes they had a non-vegetarian one and then the actual buffet with a huge spread including Dum Biryani , Mutton Khichada , Nihari , Rohu Fish Rezala and Turkish Grilled Chicken. There were also numerous Vegetarian options there though to be honest I did not have the space to taste them. The Khichada was delicious great texture to the keema and rice perfectly cooked with a lovely rustic flavor and the Nihari was gorgeous…. warm, comforting, soft mutton falling off the bone.
By now we were so stuffed we could all hardly breathe but the desserts were calling out and we succumbed to their lure. The Kheer and Firni were both very good and I was very happy to spot Baklava which I love. There were numerous others that regretfully I was too full to taste.
I thought it was a deliciously clever way to give the traditional buffet spread a contemporary twist by adding Moroccan and Lebanese dishes which made for an interesting fusion. This place is not to be missed if you want to be served all the delights of Iftar during Ramzan …. And believe me I have had the Haleem two years in a row and I can’t wait to go have some more!