April 11, 2014

The Jeelani Diaries at Vivanta by Taj, Begumpet

My earliest food memory is a time when I dreamt day and night of the luxurious food served in the expansive Hyderabadi Nizami kitchens in their good old days. I was just then finished reading a book on Hyderabad + its rich heritage & history and as a foodie by heart, I was most fascinated about their grand feasts, flair for food and intricately prepared dishes with such complex flavors. The cuisine by itself is meat-centric with various kinds of rustic haleems and kheemas with their khansamas (royal cooks) treated with high regard, often accompanying the Nizams themselves to far away places. Lest you think why so much talk about Nizami food today, let me tell you that today's post is about an exquisite event "The Jeelani Diaries" I attended at Vivanta by Taj, Begumpet and the end of the post has details on how you can experience the same while you are in the city. 

A quick peek into Viva, an all day multi-cuisine diner at Vivanta Taj will evoke an instinctive coffee shop feel. Food at the restaurant is an international fare from Indian , Mediterranean, Italian along with Nizami & Cajun style cooking. The interiors are minimalistic, has a contemporary vibe with plenty of artificial and natural lighting streaming in from the big french windows. 

The whole concept of the event in a nutshell is - popular Nizami starters paired with a variety of cocktails.

First in the offering was Kale Chane Ke Kebab with two kinds of drinks --> Falak which was a combination of milk and kahlua and a Pudina refreshment with mint + lemon wedges + vodka + sugar + chat masala + roasted jeera + rock salt + soda. The distinct flavor of kahlua was lost in Falak but the Pudina cocktail was kickass, if I may say so. A little crushed ice in it would have really enhanced the flavors and a glass or two serve as a good breather from this scorching summer heat!

               falak & pudina refreshment [L]                            Chef Arjun explaining to us the various starters + drinks [R]
Next came in a plate of Aloo Shikampoor accompanied by Firangi Nariyal which had coconut water + vodka + lemon juice + coconut malai and Vodka Shikanji [Vodka + Lemon juice + sugar syrup + Shikanji]  The starter served to me was a little undercooked. Flavors were good and a crisper outside would have made it perfect. What is my personal favorite drink, you ask? Firangi Nariyal. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by this combination as I never imagined coconut water tasting so so good with vodka. Whosoever came up with this idea, a special kudos to them.  

Aloo Shikampoor [L]                                                       Firangi Nariyal and Vodka Shikanji [R]
For the last veg starter, we had Tarkari Lukmi Ke Saath Shami with Bilayti Chatka, a delightful cocktail with mango panna, white spirit, lemon juice and chat masala. I could gorge over these beauties all day long as nothing tastes better in summer than aam (mango) panna - in any form or figure. :-)

Bilayti Chatka [L]                                                                Tarkari Lukmi Ke Saath Shami [R]
For meat/fish lovers, you have 3 more options to choose from --> 
  • Machi ke shammi paired with adraki andaz/azraq-e-sama 
  • Murgh Lapeta paired with nasile tadka/amrudi jeera ka pyala 
  • Mutti kebab with mirch mumtaz/kala khatta daiquiri
All these are available as a part of the Viva's buffet. Note that the above starter-cocktail pairings are Chef's suggestions only and if you would like to have another combination, let the waiters over there know. The final choice is entirely yours.

Below are few more photographs I clicked while I was strolling around the restaurant with my camera. 

Chef Jeelani in action  [L]                                                              Veg Haleem in the buffet. Yay! [R]

The “Jeelani Diaries” can be experienced over lunch & dinner at Viva, Vivanta by Taj Begumpet from 12.30 pm to 3.00 pm & 7.30 pm to 11.00 pm.

Location: Ground floor, Vivanta Taj, Begumpet, Hyderabad
Credit Card Accepted: Yes
Vallet Parking: Available
For more information or reservations, contact: 040-67253642

 Before I sign off, here is a rather unusual dessert I ate during the tasting event - Palak Ka Halwa. Ever heard about it? I haven't. This is possibly one of the most luscious dessert I ate and tasted fantastic. Chef Arjun was kind enough to share the recipe with me. I will make some real soon and post here on the blog. Hopefully I will be able to replicate the awesomeness. If you visit Vivanta Taj, don't forget to order a small cup of this halwa and tell me how it was. :-)

Palak Ka Halwa

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until next time,


  1. missed it! everything looks fab through your lense siri

    1. Thank you lovely lady. Missed YOU a lot at the tasting event.

  2. Super pics and a mouth-watering-worthy description. Missed it, indeed!


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