Kangan, the flagship restaurant of Westin Pune is well known for its North West Frontier cuisine. My days of devouring ‘Frontier Chicken’ are long gone, but I did wonder if exotic mushrooms or walnuts would feature on the menu.
Chef Sadab Qureshi has recently taken over the reins at Kangan, and I was the fortunate recipient of an invitation to test drive the new menu. The Qureshi name is well known when it comes to dum pukht cuisine.
Although I have been to the Westin quite often right since they were new back in 2010, this was my first visit to Kangan. Expectations were high and that is often not a good thing.
We reached at the given time of 7 PM and were shown to a table. The kitchen was bustling with activity, and shrouded in smoke. The fragrance of grilling meats was redolent in the air. The kitchen could be called semi open. There is a big glass partition that allows you to see some of the action inside. Lighting is very soft which is going to reflect in the photos you will see.
I think it is safe to say that the non-vegetarian menu is the star here considering the type of cuisine. The vegetarian food seems like an afterthought in such a place. Being the only vegetarian at the table didn’t help.
The large Masala Khakra which is like a complimentary papad type thing has a wow factor if you have never encountered it before. Dahi ke Kabab were delicate and attractive to look at. These Kababs are mostly made of Greek yogurt or yogurt cheese and are certainly a decadent start. Kuti Mirch Ka Paneer Tikka was cut in a round shape. Nowadays, it seems to be trendy to cut paneer in artsy shapes.
The Tandoori pineapple offered a good contrast of spicy tandoori marinade and sweet pineapple, but I wouldn’t classify this as a mainstream appetizer, certainly not at 800-900 INR.
In the main courses, the bread basket offered variety and I tried a Laccha Paratha. Katliyan Aloo was a preparation of thinly sliced potatoes with ginger. Potatoes are always a good option for people who don’t like veggies and also don’t eat mushroom or paneer. Believe me, there are many of those around.
Paneer Khatta Pyaz was small diced paneer with pickled pearl onions in a red sauce. All the paneer pieces were in different shapes and sizes, and this dish could certainly have been executed better. But I liked the principle of the dish, and the pungent and vinegary onion paired well with creamy paneer.
Dal Kangan is another specialty that Kangan is known for. The Dal was thick and creamy with a grainy texture. The Chef explained how the slow cooking process and butter and cream was the essence of the dal. Certainly not a choice for the calorie conscious folks.
The Subz Biryani had the expected flavors such as anise and saffron.
Desserts were served and unfortunately, it wasn’t Kulfi. But don’t worry, Kulfi is very much a part of the Kangan menu. Shahi Tukda had a creamy Rabdi type topping with rose syrup.
The Phirni was served in a small clay pot and had Gulkand or sugary rose petals at the base, sort of like your yogurt cup with fruit on the bottom. Although I love how rustic the earthen pot looks, maybe a transparent container will nudge the guest in the right direction. The mildly sweetened Phirni together with the Gulkand combine well, but you need to scoop it out vertically to get both of them on your spoon.
I would not like to comment on the service as I was an invitee. On such occasions, it is hard to understand if the service you receive is the same as others get, or if it is better than usual.
Overall, I will choose Seasonal Tastes or Prego over Kangan any day, but that is just me. And yes, there is no comparison really since the type of cuisine is different.