Once Upon a Time has a Afghani Food Festival going and the Facebook group Hyderabad Foodies organized a meet there. I was among around 60 foodies who attended this food festival on a Saturday evening. The spread was elaborate and the items looked very different. Green Park has specifically brought in Chef Mujeebur for this festival, who is an expert in North-West Frontier food. I started with Anaar Sharbat, a thick white milk based drink. Though it tasted good, it was quite heavy, so keeping the rest of buffet in mind did not go for another helping. Among the starters were 3 non-veg and 2 veg dishes. The Afghani Pasande was definitely the best of the lot the meat was soft and the spices divine. The shami kabab and murgh kabab were decent though not spectacular. Til khubani kebab, an apricot and til based preparation was soft and terrific. There was also Khattai Paneer Tikka. Next I graduated to Baluchi Nehari a ghee based preparation of soft mutton. The Afghani Nehari is quite different in the sense that it is not spicy at all, but the aroma is all pervading. It went very well with the Afghani Naans. The Afghani naans are slightly sweet and has dry fruits like pistachios embedded into it. The naans dipped into the Nehari tasted divine. The chicken preparation Sika Tandoori Murgh was another dish which tasted great, again with lot of cashews, dry fruits and capsicum in it. The Qabuli pulao was the right foil for the chicken. The veg main courses had paneer, Qabuli chana and a brinjal based dish. What I noticed in Afghan dishes is that they use limited spices, very little chillies, lot of dry fruits and are on the sweeter side. I was under the impression that it would taste similar to the Kashmiri cuisine but actually it was quite different. The Chef Mujeebur was at hand to explain the finer nuances of Afghan food. Overall we had a very good experience of tasting a different cuisine. Thanks Joydeep Mazumdar of Green Park Hotel for the great hospitality. The festival is on till June 9th.