Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Being a true blue foodie, any authentic food fascinates me and off I set to Jamavar@ The Leela Palace Delhi, when I heard that Chef Vinod Saini and his team of Wazwan chefs were cooking up a Kashmiri storm (literally). For those who don’t know, Wazwan is an elaborate, formal, overwhelmingly generous meal integral to Kashmiri Muslim weddings.
I started my culinary sojourn with a cup of kahwa, a refreshing sweet tea, fragrant with saffron, spiced with cardamom and afloat with crisp almond slivers. (This tea is usually served from a silver samovar, which bubbles ceaselessly through the wedding ceremony). The Manager Gurpreet also explained that to make it absolutely authentic  ingredients and specialty items Have directly been flown in from Kashmir like the Himalayan trout, Kashmiri Saffron, Manj achar (kohlrabi pickle), Snow mountain garlic, Vari masala (Kashmiri ver masala) and Gucchi (Morrel mushrooms) to name a few.
As the whiff of kebabs, spice laden curries and hot ghee began to weave its way across the restaurant I sat down for my Wazwan experience. My vote goes all out to the delicious ‘Tabak Maz’ flat rib cuts cooked in spiced milk and then fried in pure ghee till they are dark and crackling. The ‘Tandoori Trout’ and ‘Taali Machhi’ were no less spectacular. Soon the wazwan started taking a fast pace. Chicken red curry served with a huge ladle was poured on the rice, along with a huge meaty piece of chicken. Next came in the succulent Rogan josh, fiery with red Kashmiri chillies and lots more. The piece de resistance for me was the delectably Rista, soft mutton meatballs cooked in a red gravy. Temptations for luxurious indulgences lingers, here, with every morsel of delectable food, and every sip of the coveted wines and aged spirits from the extensive list - perhaps the capital’s most sought after collection. All in all the food here is unpretentious and clearly freshly made and more importantly is delicious to boot! Most of all the effortlessly spontaneous charming staff, with traditional feelings of hospitality and deeply instilled values, made me feel instantly at home on my visit. I relished my meal in an ambience resplendent with Kashmiri pomp, the ceremonial dining spread laden with the finest repertoire of delicacies. Not surprisingly I couldn’t move an inch after I was done, yet I joined in for more kahwa…After all, it was wazwan for dinner!

Dum Oluv -potatoes cooked in yogurt gravy.
Hak- a local variety of greens.
Rista -meatballs in fiery red gravy.
Rogan Josh -tender lamb cooked with Kashmiri spices.
Tabak Maz -ribs of lamb simmered in yogurt till tender, and then fried till they crackle.
Daniwal Korma -a mutton curry with lots of coriander.
Marchwangan Korma -an extremely hot lamb preparation.
Kebab -minced meat roasted on skewers over hot coals.
Gushtaba -a velvety textured meatball in white yogurt gravy.
Yakhni -delicately spiced yogurt curry.

The ‘Vasta Waza’ (head cook) directs and guides his team. This title by the way is a big thing and is conferred on a chosen few after years of apprenticeship

The Leela Palace New Delhi,
Diplomatic Enclave,
New Delhi 110 023
Tel: +91 (0) 11 3933 1234
Operating Hours: Open for dinner from7 Pm to 11-45Pm
Location: The Lobby Level.