Food: This revamped eatery captures the illustrious Nawabi era

The all-new Kebab Korner is like a modern-day palace; elegant yet not ostentatious. It borrows from the wisdom of the Awadh Dynasty and blends it with modern tastes. Take, for instance, the blue upholstery adorning the plush sofa-chairs that could be mistaken for thrones. Once upon a time, blue dyes were cumbersome to make and hence, expensive.

Chef Irshad Qureshi. PICS/BIPIN KOKATE
Chef Irshad Qureshi. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Naturally, blue was the colour of the monarchs. In current times, the soothing hue melts away stress. The use of the element of water as a wall-fountain is another feature typical of ancient Islamic Gardens. A quirky modern-art piece consists of copper pots and pans adorning a section of the ceiling. Our ancestors knew copper utensils came with additional benefits such as the ability to kill bacteria. The finishing touches of a lost era come in the form of intricately carved screens that have been deliberately rusted for authenticity. The view beyond is fit for royalty with waves lapping against the shoreline.

Martaban Rogan Mutton Curry
Martaban Rogan Mutton Curry

Family and flavours
Little wonder that the head chef comes from a long-line of those who served the Nawabs of Lucknow. "I am the seventh generation of Khansamas," says Chef Irshad Qureshi proudly. With a misty-eyed look, he says, "My grandfather would take us along with him to the palace which was an everyday affair for us as kids. My grandfather replicated a Nawabi favourite for friends and they prodded him for the secret ingredient. Those family recipes have been handed down, but we've tweaked them to keep up with the times. My grandfather used large amounts of khoya, malai, mawa; today, this is too heavy for guests, so I cut down on the amount used, or replace with other ingredients."

Murgh Kakori Kebab and Haleem ke Kabab
Murgh Kakori Kebab and Haleem ke Kabab

Chef Qureshi's stints at five-star hotels in Prague, Turkey, London, Singapore, etc give him the advantage of understanding global food trends. I enquire about the Chef's degree. But he says in a matter-of-fact tone, "Does a fish, born in water, need to be taught to swim?"

With that he puts together a feast: We start with a palate-cleanser, which changes daily on the menu. Today, it's a mini Dahi Wada plated on an all-white, with chutney, spices for colour. Next, the Murgh Kakori Kebab (Rs 975), which consists of breast and thigh pieces that melt-in-the-mouth. The chef reveals the secret of their succulence — fat. The surface remains oil-free for a guilt-free meal. Bite into the Haleem ke Kebab (Rs 975), and taste the individual ingredients — chillies, mint and onions — which create a rush of flavours and leave you craving more. The secret lies in hand-pounded spices. The Makkai Roti Tacos (Rs 525) are visually appealing and tasty with paneer and tulsi-flavoured murgh wrapped in tacos.

Veggies can binge too
For mains, vegetarians can opt for the Kacchi Mirch Paneer (Rs 825), cooked in khada (whole) masalas, for a rich flavour. Enjoy it with the healthy Langarwali Dal (Rs 825), made of five lentils.

Non-vegetarians must try the Martaban Rogan Mutton Curry (Rs 975), which comes in a pickle jar and contains all the mouth-watering flavour of pickles, with generous portions of meat. This goes well with the Churchur Laccha (Rs 195), a shredded, light bread that balances the piquant dish.

Wash it all down with the Shahi Tukda (Rs 425), which comes drowned in rabdi made with more than a handful of nuts, and is the perfect end to a regal meal. Kebab Korner allows you to escape to another time, while keeping you grounded in the present.

Time: 12 pm to 3 pm (lunch); 7 pm to 1.30 am (dinner)
At: First level, The Intercontinental hotel, Marine Drive.
Call: 39879999
This was a preview and hence, not anonymous.

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