Citrus is located at The Leela Palace and has its main entrance on one end of the Library Bar. The walk to this in-house restaurant is a spectacle in itself- the walk through those beautiful corridors converging into a world of panache, luxury and eminent style. Citrus is a fine-dine Indian restaurant- looking to cultural diversity as a source of inspiration for its menu. The Leela Palace, without a doubt continues to exhibit why it is a class apart compared to other prominent star hotels. As you walk through the huge and gorgeous double doors, one’s immediate reaction is of awe. It sings of opulence, with magnificent chandeliers, walls with concealed flickering lanterns and a luscious space laid out with plush seating. Whilst you imagine all this exuberance, can you picture street food being served here? Well, that’s what the festival “Treats of Streets” is all about – serving delicious street food in a palatial property by upholding the very essence of it.
What’s this street food festival all about? Well, I am sure most of us know what street food is. We even know that food is served quick and consumed even quicker at street food stalls (or vendors). It’s arguable that street food is at times more rich and delicious in comparison to food served in the most prominent of restaurants. So, here I was at The Leela palace with a question- Is it true or can this palace also deliver some delicious street food breaking those barriers.
I was invited for the exclusive preview of the Chef’s tasting menu with regard to the Street food festival. It started off with the Punjabi Rose Lassi – Rich, smooth and creamy this yogurt based refreshment served in earthen pots named Matkas has powers to cool you down because of which its considered as a great summer cooler. I loved this lassi more as the sweet quotient in this drink was just perfect- wasn’t too sweet but just right. The other healthier option on the menu is the Tender coconut water – Healthy and tasty in its natural form 😉 . We did have a tray of crispy Indian savoury snacks served on the table which included Banana chips, Rose cookies, Murukku to accompany the drinks.
In the Chaat section of this menu you have three items to choose from – Murgh Ke Chaat, Raj Kachori and Palak Pan Ki Chaat.
Palak Pan Ki Chaat – Nothing like I have tasted before- an utterly delicious and unique snack which features batter fried spinach served with aromatic Paan to get the final product which was my favorite among the three.
Raj Kachori– A dish filled with flavors- it’s crispy from the outside and soft from the inside filled with different kinds of namkeen, curd and chutneys.
Murgh ke Chaat – a non-vegetarian version of the regular chaat for all the non-vegetarian lovers where in the well marinated diced chicken cubes are accompanied with potato in a spicy and flavorsome affair and topped with pomegranate grains.
The Chaat story was followed by South Indian street food which offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian Kothu Parotta and Egg Dosa with Bheja fry. Kothu Parotta is minced Parotta which is made by mincing and mixing the ingredients repeatedly and happens to be a very popular dish in Tamil Nadu. I liked the vegetarian Kothu Parotta more than its non-vegetarian counterpart. The Bheja fry wrapped into miniature Egg Dosa’s would surely fascinate the Bheja Fry lovers. I am not very fond of the dish (Bheja fry) as such, probably because of its gooey texture. But I did give it a try and I must say this combination of spicy Bheja Fry with Egg Dosa would be welcomed by the Bheja Fry lovers wholeheartedly.
Then arrived an array of fried food – Goli Bajji, Jheenga Koliwada and the Nethili fry. Being a Mangalorean, Goli Bajji is something I am very familiar with since childhood. These Goli Bajjis were crisp, soft and yummy- they’re addictive! Ok, I would love to get my hands on some Goli Bajjis as I pen these lines. The Mangalorean in me is speaking out food favouritism ha ha 😉
The Jheenga Koliwada was delicious and visually appealing because of the ingredient- Kashmiri Red Chilli powder in it. Loved these crispy fried Prawn Koliwada laced with generous amount of spices which was served with mint chutney. The Nethili fry – my favourite indulgence along with Fish Curry-Rice when in Kerala – a serious miss if one isn’t aware of this colourful dish of tiny deep fried Anchovies served on a bed of curry leaves. You don’t have to separate the bone, instead, consume it in one go as it is fried to perfection. Yous can always drizzle some lemon juice for that extra punch.
After the wonderful line-up of fried food we moved to the Indian Sigri section which served Beef Phal, Quail Roast and Pathar ka Gosht– trust me, all of them were amazing! The spices that went into the marinade, the time invested to let the marinade sit, the patience worked on getting the right texture of the meat was evident with just one bite. I can clearly say that this was the best part of the entire menu for me.
For main course, we had Idiyappam with Paya Korma– loved the Idiyappam and the scrumptious Paya Korma. Idiyappam is the Kerala version of string hoppers also known as Semige, noolputtu which is made up of rice flour pressed into a thread form and steamed. The Idiyappam when paired with the gastronomically delightful Paya Korma is pure bliss! Baida Roti makes you fall in love with minced meat- the generous amount of minced meat stuffed into pockets of Indian bread and shallow fried in egg. Chef Zafar Ali surely knows how to captivate your taste buds and your mind by keeping oneself so engaged with the food served..!!
This amazing food story had to end on a sweet note and what better way than by the two lead Stars Jalebi with Hot Badam milk and Kulfi. Jalebis came first to present its act alongside with the Hot Badam Milk served in a Matka. They were crisp and fresh, coated with a luscious sweet syrup. The two flavors offered– Pista and Malai- of which I loved Malai Kulfi – creamy and rich in taste .
We ended this royal street food journey with a portion of Kumbakonam Degree Coffee which is most of our very own Filter Coffee 😉
Do you think that this much of a narrative is not enough ? 😉 Let me tell you this street food festival started yesterday – 1st of September 2016 and is on till the 11Th of this month and is priced at Rs.1500+ taxes hosted at Citrus – The Leela Palace on Old Airport Road. Let your palate indulge in some street food but within the royalty and ambience of a palace..!!