Indian food is one of the most well known of India’s cultural exports, but in South Africa we tend to think of Indian food without distinguishing the vast diversity thereof.
The High Commision of India is hosting an Indian food festival in Johanneburg and Durban as part of their “Festival of India in South Africa 2014”. This year they are looking a Awadhi cuisine and the theme is “Kebabs, Curries and Biriyanis”.
Awadhi is a region in the State of Uttar Pradesh. At about the time of Louis XIV (1643-1715) the Nawabs (kings) of Awadhi were contending with the break up of the Mughal Empire centred in Delhi, establishing Awadhi as a region known for its cuisine, architecture, fine arts and culture.
The Shared History Festival has previously focused on Mughlai cuisine with its Persian influence, so the typical Adwahi delicate flavours of saffron, dried fruits, rose water, kebabs, biriyani and keema are not unfamiliar to those of us who follow these wonderful festival offerings.
I went along to the Sandton Sun where the spread was sumptious. The food is typically not vegetarian, but there was plenty of vegetable offerings for the people who are vegetarian, or who don’t eat any meat unless it is halaal. The tastes are subtle. Chicken prepared with raw papaya, but served without the papaya is interesting. I didn’t get to taste the Awadhi breads as they were seized as quickly as they were put out, but was assured that they were delicious.
It was a pleasure to listen to live music from India, to enjoy the wonderful aromatic foods and to relax in good company and a fine setting. Kebabs, Curries and Biriyanis. The Best of Awadh is on at the Sandton Sun Hotel in Johannesburg from 1-6 August and in Durban from 8-13 August 2014.