The House of Arcot traces its royal lineage to 1690 when it was the called the House of Carnatic. The present Prince of Arcot, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali is the 8th Prince of Arcot. His son, Mohammed Asif Ali is the Dewan and the heir apparent. They are both very actively involved in community-related and other charitable and social causes.
They reside in ‘Amir Mahal’, a sprawling campus in Royapettah. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited on many occasions to the ‘Amir Mahal’, and one of the high points of each visit has been the food served. The cooks at the palace have been in service of the family for generations and so has the cuisine, which has also been passed on. The Prince and the Dewan sahib are extremely generous hosts, so much so I always make it a point to hide my plate from Nawab Sahib, as he hates seeing an empty plate and insists that plate be refilled with the lip-smacking food that one is anyway unable to refuse.
When I had an invite from the GRT Hotels to try out the ‘Nawabi food Festival’ at the ‘J Hind’ , it was definitely an invite I was unable to miss. J Hind for the uninitiated, is a restaurant which has tried to incorporate many modern cooking techniques into traditional Indian cuisines. So their meal usually consists of a lot of ‘Nitrogen’, a lot of smoke haze , flames, foam and spheres applied to conventional Indian menu. Prior to this festival the House of Arcot allowed access to the chefs from J Hind to their chefs and kitchen to take a peek into ancient recipes and preparations. The J Hind chefs then proceeded to incorporate modern cooking techniques to arrive at the same dish.
The menu was presented as a 12 course degustation menu with certain items that would be rotated nightly. The festival has been running through the whole of July and many of the dishes will probably find their place in the main menu once the festival is over.
I have presented the photos of the dishes with a description.
Badam Peach Halwa
Shahi Tukda - Nawabi Style
The food and the presentation were very good. Especially if it is your first time at the restaurant, there will be many ‘Awww’ inspiring moments of drama and presentation.
The chefs have managed to recreate the taste of the Arcot palace to a large extent. But realistically it is near impossible to expect certain recipes which are steeped in traditional cooking methods to be replicated perfectly.
The Nawabi Food festival though is a definite must-visit because GRT has managed to execute a very interesting Jugalbandi between the Nawabi heritage and modern cooking techniques.
The festival is on till the 31st of July at J Hind, GRT Grand Hotel, T Nagar.