Turkey is for Thanksgiving in United Sates. Easter calls upon Easter eggs and hot cross buns all over London. It is evening. It is Ramzan. And it is all about Haleem.
If Ramzan is all about abstinence from material pleasures, it is also about celebration of age old traditions like community bonding through good cuisine. People get together to break the fast and have delicious food.
The Lalit Great Eastern, Kolkata for the last 2 years have been organizing these great Iftar buffet spread every Friday post sunset. We were invited last year. Read about it here. And this year it is even grander. The event started with some rooh afza thandai, which took us back to our younger days when rooh afza was kind of a household name and a must have drink in summers. There was also some malaidar lassi, assorted dry fruits and an assortment of cut fruits, sprouts and salad to break the fast in the freshest possible way. The salad bar also had a mezze platter with a number of dips with flat breads and falafel.
The main attraction was of course the Haleem. The king of all dishes present. This one was completely different from any other that we have had in the city. The keema was literally pasted along with the 14- 15 varieties of lentils. It was being freshly tossed with dry fruits and doused in ghee at a live counter before being served with some fresh pita breads.
We had also shot a video of the Haleem getting prepared and you can check it out here
There were a few more live counters of keema with additions of dry fruits, roasted garlic or any other condiment of your choice and pav bhaji for the veggie lovers, a counter for hot jalebis being prepared in front of your eyes was mouth watering and some other usual street food counters.
The main course had a delectable menu from various parts of the country as well as some international cuisine like some mercimekhli kofta from Turkey, Baluchi bharwan paneer from Baluchistan, Turkish grilled chicken and some olive and feta ravioli in arrabbiata sauce. From the nation came khubani gullar which was an apricot dish in a creamy sauce, hyderabadi achari baingan, which I thought was genuinely stunning, some rohu rezala, another stunner of a dish and not to mention, the ghost nihari, which was nothing short of divine. And there were many more dishes for vegetarians, which I couldn’t possibly try at one go.
The killer was the kichada, completely textural, full of flavours and the keema was soft and melted in the mouth. There were also some subz biryani for the vegetarians and some chicken biryani to complement the ghost nihari.
No buffet is complete without its selection of desserts and this buffet was particularly generous with its range of desserts from phirni, khubani ka meetha, mahalabia, anjeer halwa to the dazzle of the baklava, which is rarely found in our country in all its true glory. However, I must say that it was the best we had after Turkey.
This iftari spread with some variation but with a constant of the Haleem is available every Friday till Eid at Alfresco, The Lalit Great Eastern from 6:30 pm to 11 pm every Friday. The buffet is set at INR 1550 plus taxes. – Madhushree