For some reason a lot of us, including me, tend to look at Indian cuisine as the last resort when considering options for a fine dine meal. Pan Asian – yes! Italian – yes! But some how traditional Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine is never really considered ‘fine dine’ material. But in the last few years a pleasant change of sorts is visible. Regional Indian cuisine has started receiving the due it deserves. Indian cuisine has become ‘cool’ again with the integration of modern cooking techniques with age-old recipes as well as futuristic plating.
And then there are restaurants like Kangan at the Westin Mumbai Garden City, Goregaon that stay true to the desi roots by bringing us dishes that are rich and exquisite – a meal fit for royalty! All of this at a stunning venue – a restaurant perched atop the 18th floor with a beautiful view of the city by night. And a meal put together by a maestro with tons of experience and expertise in the area of Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine – Chef Angad Rai. If these aren’t the ingredients for a perfect meal, then I don’t know what is!
Chef Angad Rai leads the delightful symphony, that is the meal we were about to experience at Kangan. With tons of expertise in Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine, and having worked at some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry, I was curious to see what lay ahead in front of me.With a glass of Bordeaux in my hand, and a birds eye view of the city, and a rumbling stomach I commenced what was going to be a delightful meal.
Within our non-vegetarian tasting platter we had a few super hits, and a few average dishes, but nothing that was a miss. The Kakori Kebab could have easily been mistaken for a Galauti had I been eating my meal blindfolded. The meat in the skewered kebab was so soft that it required barely any mastication, yet was full of flavour. Another spectacular dish was the Habibiya Tawa Gosht – tenderlamb chops where the meat fell off the bone when scraped with a single fork! When I asked Chef Angad about how long the lambs were slow cooked for to become that tender, he replied with a grin. Some secrets are meant to be secrets!
The Murg Bardari Tikka was a rich chicken tikka with flavours of pungent Kasundi mustard and the richness of cheese intermingling. The Khatti Jeenga is an interesting take on a regular prawn tikka due to the supposed use of kaffir lime leaves in the marinade that gives it a slighly acidic flavour. Sadly this tasted like a regular prawn tikka type of dish to me. Among the vegetarian options, the Dahi Ke Kebab was a winner with the inclusion of mango relish within the hung curd patty to add flavour to this otherwise classic dish. The Nadroo Shikhampuri – a lotus stem, pan fried patty – was another great vegetarian option, nevertheless I’ll just be sticking to the meats.
For the mains, we made our way through a traditional Nalli Nihari – again well cooked meat but an option you may find elsewhere as well. The winner dish in my opinion was the Jinga Anardana – an unusual pairing of prawn with pomegranate that came together to create a dish that ticks all boxes. The Murgh Masala is another delicious dish but not something that blows your mind. What blows your mind is the Dal Kangan – mixture of dals, slow cooked with secret spices and loads of ghee that make you crave for a peg of whiskey by the side. Or a freezing North Indian winter evening!
I was stuffed to the brim by now, and then Chef Angad brought out the piece de resistance – a beautiful Kacche Gosht Ki Biryani paired with a silken mirchi ka saalan. A bite of this combination instantly transported me back to my recent Hyderabad trip where I first began to appreciate the traditional dum version of biryani – low on masala, yet full of spice and flavour owing to the dum method of cooking. Dessert was a run-of-the-mill Ras Malai – not something I’d order again only because the appetizers and mains deserve all my focus.
I concluded my meal at Kangan, a firm believer that traditional Indian meals don’t have to be restricted to the ones we eat at home or at dhaabas on the highway or at hole-in-the-wall eateries. Mughlai dinners don’t have to be limited to when you’re dining out with your family who just won’t experiment with any other cuisine. The delectable cuisine of the North West Frontier Province can be ‘fine dine’ material as was evident during my meal at Kangan.
(The author was invited to dine at Kangan. The views are unbiased and entirely her own.)