By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
For the third straight year, the Café Urbano, located inside Mexico City’s Presidente InterContinental Hotel in Colonia Polanco, is hosting a 11-day festival of traditional northern Indian cuisine.
Northern Indian cuisine, also known as Mogul cookery, was developed at the royal Punjabi courts of Delhi and Agra during the majestic era of the Mogul maharajahs, who were responsible for the building of the Red Fort and Taj Mahal in the early 17th century.
Unlike the spicy curries that predominate in the south of India, Mogul gastronomy is known for its complexity rather than its torridity. Most South Asian connoisseurs consider it the haute cuisine of Indian cooking.
In Mogul cookery, much use is made of sweet and aromatic spices, with Indian bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom considered the basic condiments. Delicately seasoned sauces and succulent marinates replace the blistering hot Dravidian curries of India’s south.
Meats, generously coated in saffron and other spices, are baked in clay tandoor ovens, as are traditional northern Indian breads such as nans and paratas, and served up with Aromatic steamed basmati rice.
To oversee the Indian food festival, which runs through Dec. 20, the Presidente InterContinental Hotel, with the help of the Indian Embassy in Mexico and the Gurudev Tagore Cultural Center, has brought in two master chefs from Dehli, Gagan Sikka and Sandeep Sharma.
Sikka, who is currently the head of New Delhi’s Masala Art restaurant, spent 15 years at the renowned Taj Palace Hotel in the Indian capital, while Sharma continues his service at the Taj Palace, specializing in tandoor cooking.
In addition to an array of elegant Mongul dishes, the festival also includes some regional items from across India and several traditional Delhi street food favorites, such as aloo tikki (potato croquettes with lentils and tamarind sauce) and cholley bhature (fried garbanzos with puffed flour bread).
The festival menu is available at the Café Urbano for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., and on Sunday for lunch from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., through Friday, Dec. 20.