By Ashok Kumar
When I landed in Sydney 16 years ago, I organised my first event at Manjit’s function centre in Concord. Since then, I became a fan of Manjit’s food and enjoyed dinner on several occasions. No wonder when I received an invite to savour Manjit’s food at ‘A week of India’ at Café Mix of Shangri La Hotelon 23rd November, I immediately sent my RSVP. The difference this time was the chef, I didn’t realise his son has grown up enough to be an independent chef and runs his own restaurant at Darling Harbour.
The ambience was the same, when I first visited Manjit’s, perhaps the trick of the trade was passed on from father to son. The moment you realise you are dealing with a family of restaurateurs, you know you will not be disappointed.
Varun took us on a culinary journey through the sub-continent of India, celebrating the food and culture with authentic dishes and desserts. In the background Bollywood songs from yesteryear films were being played which is the best way to keep the guests entertained. The food, including entrees were gracefully laid out. A novelty of the event was the ‘Gol Gappas’ with Papari, typical north Indian snacks, that one rarely comes across at such big events. Displayed at a vantage point, Gol Gappas was the most sought after dish. Even those, who had had their dinner tried Gol Gappas at least for once.
With so many Indian restaurants available in Sydney, why was the event organised here at a five star hotel? Varun wanted to titillate the taste buds of Australians and dispel the fear that Indian food is very spicy. Australians always prefer a mild taste and thoroughly enjoyed the food.
Varun said that the Dal Makhni, served with rice, was not made from the normal lentils but from a lighter variety of lentils with same taste, a speciality of Manjit’s. No Indian food can be complete without Butter Chicken, another Manjit’s speciality that was lavishly displayed at the buffet table. Lamb seekh kababs, a speciality of Manjit’s that tasted the same when I had them first time at their function centre.
Biryani, both veg and non-veg was specially cooked and served in bowls with kneaded flour covering to keep it warm for long. This reminded us of the famous Hyderabad biryani, a speciality of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, South India.
Among the variety of dishes at the buffet were • Lamb Seekh Kebabs • Tandoori drumsticks • Butter Chicken (Original Gujral recipe dating back to 1940’s) • Assorted Naan breads • Daal Makhni • Shikhandari Raan • Chicken Tikka on a stick • Aloo Tikki • Onion Bhaji • Mini Samosa • Prawn Malbari • South Indian Fish Curry • Tava Sabji • String hoppers • Whole Tandoori Roasted Goat • Indo-Chinese Vegetables and Saffron Rice. There was also a Japanese touch to the dinner with Sushi cooked in Indian style was mouth-watering.
COLD: Poppadums and assorted condiments • Gol gappa • Chatt papari and Dahi Boondi
Dessert Station • Chai brulee • Mango kulfi • Fig Kulfi • Passionfruit and pineapple 3 textured Cake • Chocolate and chilli fondant • Chocolate swirl cake • Cashew and saffron pannacotta • Pistachio Kulfi • Dessert Dosa and Punjabi speciality, Gulab jamun with a separate stall for a variety of ice creams.
It was an unforgettable moment for all the guests, Australians, Chinese, Malaysians, Thais or Indian food lovers. The organisers wished if the festival could have been longer as five days’ event was not enough to satiate all.