Forest Mushroom Escabeche

 For us Indians, Argentina refers to Football. But every country, region or town has a lot more to offer than what it’s famous for. Different traditions, history, entertainment, and of course food! The Argentine food festival is here with some eclectic dishes to give your taste buds some authentic food experiences. An enthusiastic team has put together a wonderful event at Machan of the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi.

Lamb Empenada

This cultural offering from Argentina is not to be missed. The festival started from 23rd and is running till 26th of this month after which they offer the same exciting experience to the citizens of Mumbai from 27th September to 2ndOctober at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. 

Chef Daniel Godoy
At the entrance, there is a beautiful display of unique items from Argentina which they call the “Experience zone”, where you get a feel of their everyday life. The flag, a beautiful painting of the soccer field, beautifully crafted leather belts for which Argentina is famous for, some coffee table books, the hunting weapon for countryside men (I forgot the name!!!), the ever tempting Dulche de leche, a bottle of wine since they are the 5th largest producer of wine in the world and the Mate set. As told to me by the beautiful Georgina Destefano, (The Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission), Mate is a traditional infused drink which is prepared by steeping dried leaves of Yerba Mate in hot water. Yerba Mate is a herb, and having this tea together at social gatherings is a ritual. They prefer not adding any sweetener or milk to it, but according to preference one can add the needful. The beautiful container in which the mate is served is also called mate(cup as we would call it). This container is made out of pumpkin and then decorated in all new designs. There is even a metal straw to sip the tea which she said is consumed throughout the day and as the custom is in a family, one mate is passed around and the container refilled signifying the closeness or bonding of the family. 
Patagonian Lamb-duo of loin and chops, fresh turkish lentil salad, smoked eggplant creamy purée, malbec wine sauce
There was excitement in the air when we were told that there was a special Tango performance arranged for us along with some welcome drinks. It was a delight watching Saket and his wife Shubra perform. Tango, which is Argentina’s international cultural symbols originated in the working class port neighbourhoods of Beunos Aires in the late 19th century. The locals take this form of dance not only as entertainment, but a source for relaxation, distressing and feeling confident. Just as the performance wind up, we were greeted by Chef Daniel Godoy who is the Executive Chef at the Alvear Art Hotel, an iconic hotel in Buenos Aires. Fluent in English, he seemed happy about his first India visit and excited to promote their local cuisine in India.
Quinoa Risotto-forest mushrooms, morels, parmesan sauce, parsil sponge
Guided to the elaborate and vast brunch menu, I, for one, was happy to see some vegetarian dishes, knowing the fact that Argentina is the highest consumer of red meat in the world. Since Chef Daniel started as a party trainee and has worked with some renowned hotels as a party Chef, the dessert section seemed very inviting. Must try for vegetarians is the Forest Mushroom Escabeche in the salad section. The hint of rosemary in this salad added to the taste of the mushroom and red onions. The Quinoa Risotto was lip smacking, with it’s cheesy burst of flavours along with the parsil orange. Maneesh thoroughly enjoyed the crispy Lamb Empenadas, but he recommends the Lamb chops (Potagonion Lamb) which was served with fresh Turkish lentil salad, smoked eggplant crèmy puree topped with malbec wine sauce. Maneesh finished it to the last morsel, and his words were, “The lamb is cooked to perfection, this is really nice”. From their regular brunch menu, Machaan had some mouth watering dishes to offer too. The grilled beef, the calamari salad with gherkin, the tofu salad with sesame and the masala urlai put together by Amit Choudhary, Executive Chef of the Taj Mahal Hotel, are all worth a mention.
Vigilante Kebab
We ended this lovely afternoon over desserts and a little chat with the Chef who was jet-lagged, yet on toes. Keen on trying some Indian food, he did try the traditional Indian curry on arrival which he felt was too spicy for his taste buds. His only connection to Indian food was when he met some Indian chefs when working on a cruise and exchanged ideas learning about each other’s cuisine. He laughed over the fact that, his baggage of 40 kgs was all stacked with food items like white corn, dulche de leche and some varieties of cheeses, he didn’t carry any clothes for the fact of being in the Chef’s outfit throughout the day. When asked what he eats everyday at his home, “Pasta and barbequed stuff and no meal is a meal without a meat”, came the answer. Satisfying out sweet tooth, we tried the Vigilante Kebab and the Alfajores. But there is more on the offer for their Ala carte menu for dinner with some dulche de luche specialities. 
I would say, “Gracias” for introducing us to such a beautiful culture and looking forward to many more events like these.
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