Hot Grills, Cool Breeze: Monsoon Grill Festival at The Lalit Ashok

The beginning of the month means Gourmet Express (the monthly, 10-day spotlight on a certain cuisine, held between the 1st and 10th) time at The Lalit Ashok Bangalore. Rather than OKO or Baluchi, this time around they’ve utilized the gorgeous expansive lawn and pool space to showcase live grills paired with unlimited Indus Pride beer. The enclosed patio area provides shelter from the monsoon rains, while affording the opportunity of having grills wheeled to one’s table, and watching and smelling the meats and veggies grilled right in front of your nose. Does wonders for the appetite. let me tell you!

Grill me up
Grill me up

My guest for the evening and I are both rabid non-vegetarians, so a protein rich meal of chicken, mutton, fish, king prawns, and even rabbit, was met with great appreciation. Neither of us was in the mood for the proffered beers, so we went with a Jaljeera+pineapple juice concoction that was a perfect balance of tart and sweet. The masalas and marinades used have all been created in-house, and we were impressed by the distinct flavors of each item. Amongst the veggie options, it was good to see broccoli (which lends itself well) grilled up, and a special mention to the paneer: two thick slices sandwiched a fabulous blend of spices (Lahori punjabi marinade). Let’s face it, its rare to get excited about paneer, the go-to veg protein served to the animal protein abstainers.

King sized
King sized

We, having no such inhibitions, ate our fill of meaty kebabs. I realized, after loving the mirch masale ki machali, that Red Snapper has become my new favorite fish. The gigantic prawns (arabic kafta spiced) were cooked just right and retained the right amount of crunch, while the mutton chops (adrak aur nimbu ke panje) were perfectly balanced in flavor. Corn-fed chicken (methi malai) and the aforementioned rabbit (hare masale ka khargosh) rounded out the grills, and both were delicious. Rabbit has a tendency to be gamey and on the tougher side, but the Chef ensured otherwise, by marinating the meat for a long time and again, in spices of her own making. Baluchi specialties of Ulta tawa paratha and Dal Baluchi (their signature version of dal makhani) came after, and the cooked in ghee, sweetish parathas were the perfect foil for the spicy dal.

Dessert was Thandi Gulabi Sheek, a rich malai kulfi with gulabi. The food and setting were a perfect way to spend an evening catching up with a friend visiting from San Diego and reliving good times, and as always, The Lalit Ashok does not disappoint!

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in