Yes, Mughlai cuisine can be vegetarian

Mughlai food, or the food of the Mughal emperors of India, is known to be rich, spicy and meaty. Though Mughlai cuisine is known for its meat dishes, Kakori at Soaltee Crowne Plaza is also making an effort to cater to vegetarians.

The restaurant has brought in chef Hardev Saini, who adds even more exotic flavours to the menu. His platter of vegetarian appetisers is, well, appetising: beginning with Alu Nizashe. Whole potatoes are peeled and roasted, and served on skewers. Combined with yoghurt chutney and green chili chutney, the potatoes make for a crunchy start to the meal.

Khumb kaju ki galawat tastes as exotic as it sounds. The little nuggets are made of mushroom and garnished with a cashew, but they look and taste very much like mutton. These minibytes go well with warki paratha, a rich, buttered flat bread. The veg kofta biryani is a pleasant surprise – a packet full of mild and delicious flavours that provide the full satisfaction of biryani minus the meat.

You can savour all this and the more usual Mughlai cuisine from Lucknow at an ongoing  food festival at Kakori restaurant, famous for its north Indian dishes. While most Indian and Nepali food can be made at home, Mughlai cuisine is complicated to prepare and needs slow cooking over low heat for hours and sometimes days at a time.

For meat lovers, Kakori offers the usual delights from Chef Hardev Saini. Gosht Seekh Gelafi, a type of minced chicken dish mixed with an array of aromatic spices, onion, coriander and capsicum, is a pure a burst of flavours when served with mint chutney. Kalmi Kebab is a classic tandoori chicken marinated with garlic, onion, cashew, yogurt and spices, and is so soft it melts in one’s mouth. Equally tender is Kundan Kaliyan, almost a typical mutton curry except cooked in brown onion and brown nuts, enhancing its flavour.

Galouti (which literally translates as ‘soft’) Kebab is another lamb dish, this time based on minced meat marinated with ground spice powder. This delectable kebab with strong hints of green cardamom is often served with a tang of lime and coriander leaves. There is also an option of Keema paratha for those who would like to go for Mughlai’s complete non-veggie experience.

But the highlight of the meal has to be Kakori’s dessert selection, which we were pleasantly surprised to learn includes the unique mirch ka meetha (pictured above). Chili does not sound like a great option for dessert, but here the chef minces red capsicum finely, fries it and later adds the sweeteners, making a dish as rich and delicious as gajar ka halwa. In fact, it is so flavourful that one forgets it is made of capsicum.

Kakori will be revising its menu after the festival, so several dishes that are most popular vegetarian dishes during the event will be incorporated into its menu. Food lovers can also enjoy soothing musical numbers with their meal as gazal performers croon nearby.

Mughlai Food Festival

Kakori, Soaltee Crowne Plaza

Until 31 August