Last night I visited Purani Dilli aka Old Delhi, once more, right here in Mumbai. This time on a culinary journey by Osama Jalali, well-known food critic and curator.
Having lived in Delhi during my Post Graduation days, I am familiar with the by lanes of Old Delhi and aware of the treasure trove it is for foodies, specially hard-core Non vegetarians. Yet, what most of us associate with Purani Dilli food is quite contrary to what Rivaayat-e-Purani Dilli at Maya Trident BKC Mumbai served us.
Curated by Osama Jalali, the food according to him is Purani Dilli home food and not street food. “I grew up eating all of this daily, cooked by my mother,” he explains.
Indeed, the spread was anything, but street food. It was home style food, without a doubt as nothing was rich and heavy, even though the dishes were primarily Mughlai. His mother Nazish Jalali, the lady with a midas touch, who cooks delicious food effortlessly, was behind the elaborate meal, ably assisted by her daughter-in-law, Nazia Khan.
Our Kathal or jackfruit ki galouti arrived first. Interesting texture and flavours. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The Mewa Mawa kebabs were equally a treat. Whoever said there could be no delicious Vegetarian kebabs?
I was floored by the kacche keeme ki tikkiyan, where the meat had been pounded to perfection and the subtle, but distinct spices, teased my taste buds. The seekhs, although well made, paled in comparison. The chicken fry, a classic from Old Delhi was delightful.
The main course, was a vast array of dishes, with a hint of Rampuri, yet a predominance of Purani Dilli flavours. The Jalalis apparently hail from Rampur, located between Delhi and Lucknow and this has naturally influenced Nazish’s cooking, who has learnt first-hand from traditional khaansamas and is born with an inherent flair for cooking too.
The chana dal bharta, with its unique texture and slight tempering with ghee, stood out for me, in the main course as did the arbi or colocasia ka salan. Both struck me as unique. The aloo ka bharta was the quintessential home cooked potato dish, comforting and delicious.
The characteristic chewy textures, subtle flavours and not-so thick curries of Rampur were evident in the meal.
The keema hari mirch which was a perfect dish to appease and tantatlize taste buds simultaneously, as was the lightly flavoured chicken stew made with whole spices. The Nehari was as good as it can be, but not exceptional. The whole urad with gosht was outstanding as the ingredients were blended well and resulted in great flavours.
What do I say about the Parinde mein Parinde, their signature dish? A roast meat stuffed with other animals was the piece de resistance, both, visually and for the palate. A dish truly befitting a feast table.
I was surprised at myself, as I was not uneasy at all, having sampled so many dishes, albeit, a spoonful each.
I was waiting for the desserts with a baited breath. Not merely, because I love sweets, but because I was going to sample Nazish’s speciality – gosht ka halwa. I must confess, I took the first spoonful with trepidation. But oh! what a delight this sweet dish was. The gosht had been cooked perfectly, over slow fire, with the milk and sugar and had blend so well that it was hard to guess, it was lamb after all. The cardamom and saffron further mask the meat odours and the result is sheer brilliance. I almost forgot about the other two desserts- phirni and zarda.
On till end of the month, this festival is open for lunch and dinner at Maya, Trident BKC Mumbai. While there is an unlimited thali for lunch, dinner has a la carte offerings only.
Getting a chance to treat yourself to the lost flavours of Purani Dilli is something any gourmet ought to do.