Bhog: Temple Food festival at The Four Points by Sheraton
Bhog which literally means offering to the God is usually any food which is served to God during a festive period like Navratri or any other day. The bigger the occasion, the grander the bhog. I have grown up listening to stories of 56 bhog in context to an elaborate meal prepared for someone.
The festive season begins Navratri, a nine-day long festival with different meaning to different communities, regions and religions. Keeping in mind the sentiment of eating saatvik food with no onion, no garlic and use of pure sea salt, called rock salt or sendha namak in Hindi, The Four Points by Sheraton is back with their Bhog festival, where they offer saatvik food prepared across many revered temples of India including Jaggananth Puri, Ranakpur, Mathura (Vrindavan), Vaishnovi Devi, Udupi, Sun Temple, etc.
This menu as a buffet spread is elaborate, beautifully presented and worked upon in detail by the chefs and staff. The menu is changed everyday so that guests get to taste and enjoy different delicacy each day, along with the fact that they wish to incorporate as many festival dishes as possible. To quote –
Food cooked in Temples does not use onions and garlic as they believe to stimulate baser emotions; asafetida is used as an substitute. English vegetables that were introduced to India in last few hundred years, like potato, tomato, cauliflower, beans etc. are usually used. Ultra-orthodox temples still use pepper (native to India) and not chilli (introduced later by Dutch).
As Jains we do not practice rituals of Navratri or bhog but as a foodie I like to experiment and explore all sorts of vegetarian food. It was with great expectation, read: high on taste, simple and nutritious food, that I went to attend the Bhog festival.
It was a mixed experience, with special mention to welcome drink, starters and snacks. The starters including dahi ke kebab, kachche kele ke kebab, adrak ki bati and rassa pakora were very good, light on stomach and making you ready for the main course.
Dahi ka shorba is excellent and one must try it out and matar ki kachori was one the best I have eaten, perfectly flaky, crisp and done well. The dhokla and patra that we get here in west India is very different from what we get in north India and I am yet to accept or enjoy the western taste and preparation of these. Sakarkandi salad and curd rice were good too.
The main course was also simply prepared and quite light on the palate, bhoger khichuri, guruji ke kale chane, kashiphal ki subzi, radha ashtami arbi, arhar dal and ghee bhat to name a few. Though I think kadhi could have been better.
My biggest disappointment was desserts. There were too many choices and the ones I tasted didn’t make me seek second helping. Atte ka halwa was dry and not as rich as halwa I have eaten across temples and gurudwaras. Mathura ka pedha and boondi were the only ones that I enjoyed, including kids.
After waiting for 20 minutes for Bedmi Poori to arrive, I left without having one and no one was any wiser. In their defence, they have separated the vegetarian kitchen for maintaining the saatvik preparation of the food and hence could be responsible for the delay. But if that’s the case, then they need to really sort this out before another day passes.
Overall, I would recommend visiting this fest for its novelty, effort and for the fact that what has been served today will not be served tomorrow.
Price- 675 + Taxes for veg buffet.
Duration of Promotion/Offer 13th Oct to 22nd Oct 2015
Venue- The Eatery, Four Points by Sheraton & Serviced Apartments Pune.
Time- Only for Dinner 19.00hrs till 23.00hrs
Oh and there is a contest running too – Send your most liked dish from Bhog festival at The Eatery and share it on FPBS Instagram and Facebook pages using hashtag #NavratriWithBhog and get a chance to win goodies.