An Annual Celebration
Each fall, Saffron Valley celebrates Indian cuisine from the north and south of India with its annual Biryani & Kebab Festival. It’s a terrific opportunity to sample some dishes that might not appear on the regular Saffron Valley restaurant menus. The festival features, as you might have guessed, kebabs and biryani.
Biryani is one of my favorites Indian dishes. There are many, many different types of biryani, which is a sort of casserole made with rice and layered with ingredients like chicken, lamb, vegetables, fish, seafood and other tasty things. It’s usually seasoned with exotic, fragrant spices like saffron. Think of it as a little like jambalaya, but with Indian ingredients and flavors.
Among the special biryani dishes being served at Saffron Valley during the Biryani & Kebab Festival are Saffron Murgh Dum Biryani, Ambur Chicken Biryani, Malabar Fish Biryani, Saffron Mixed Biryani (includes chicken, lamb, fish and shrimp), and Thalappakatti Goat Biryani.
Of course, we all know what kebabs are. At Saffron Valley during the Biryani & Kebab Festival meats, fish, veggies and such are skewered and grilled over a hot flame or in the tandoor oven, then served on plates with the skewers removed so the customer doesn’t have to.
There are lot of great kebab options during the Festival – including great choices for vegetarians. Among them are Tandoor Chicken Kebabs, Mushroom Malai Tikka, Broccoli Mussalam, Lucknowi Tangdi Kebab, Achari Chicken Kebab, Lamb Galouti Kebab, Tandoori Masala Lamb Chops, Hussaini Seekh Kebab, Mahi Mahi Tikka, Ajwaini Machli, and Jinga Rani.
One of my favorite Festival dishes was the Ajwaini Machli: tender salmon cooked with a blend of aromatic spices and caraway. I also loved the delicate flavor of the spiced jumbo prawns: Jinga Rani.
I also really love the Lamb Galouti Kebab: finely minced and seasoned lamb kebabs made with the Lucknowi preparation method. If you think all Indian food is hot and spicy, think again. Many of these dishes can be made spicy, if that’s your preference, but most are quite mild in terms of spiciness.
All of the Festival dishes are served with a side of vegetarian or chicken sauce/gravy and a choice of refreshing Pineapple Raita, Boondi Raita or classic Cucumber Raita. The chicken-based sauce, in particular, is absolutely delicious. I could eat a tub full of it just by itself!
When & Where
The Biryani & Kebab Festival takes place through Sunday, October 7th, at the Sugar House Saffron Valley Bistro location (479 E. 2100 South). Festival dishes are priced from $12.99 to $18.99.
Culinary quote of the week:
So often these days eating Indian food passes for spirituality. I don’t meditate, I don’t pray, but I eat two samosas every day.
— Dan Bern
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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