Tag Archives: rich

A Patiala Peg of Royal Flavours

For us ordinary mortals, the food cooked and served from the Royal kitchens in India is always a subject of mystique and intrigue. One often wonders, what is it that they eat, how is it cooked, what are the secret ingredients that set their food apart and so on. After all royalty and food have always been an interesting but typical combination.

Fortunately, as a food writer and a passionate foodie, I have travelled and have been fortunate enough to sample food from some of the Royal Kitchens and yet, the unknown ones, continue to fascinate me.

Rajkumari Sarvesh Kaur from the Royal family of Patiala curating a food festival titled Royal Kitchens of Patiala sounded exciting enough. Add to that Chef Amninder Kaur, whose die-hard fan I am and thus sampling a meal at Masala Bay, Taj Lands End was the most obvious thing to do.

Chef Amninder Sandhu, Taj Lands End along with Rajkumari Sarvesh Kaur  had created a menu which could plunge any food lover into a coma. Executing the royal recipes  Chef Amninder had served Mutton Yakhni Shorba, Teekkha Kebab, Murg Kibiti, Shahi Paratha, Paani de Haath di Roti, Halwa Behzai and Shahi Phirni.

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The recipes were all from the Royal family which had generously been shared, which I thought was a wonderful thing to do.

The setting was perfect, the table befitting a royal meal. The only time in my life I have felt close to royalty, I must confess!

The Mutton Yakhni shorba arrived. The aroma was evident and the flavours subtle but distinct. I was off to a great start. The Teekha kabab lived upto its name, fiery it was and perked up my taste buds instantly.

Locally sourced ingredients and cooking methods are what are intrinsic to this cuisine and Chef Amninder had executed these to perfection. Most of the dishes were slow cooked, one could easily tell the difference, as the flavours were pronounced and the spices, subtle.

The main course was a melange of flavours with unique textures teasing our palates. Cocktails using traditional Indian spices were cleverly paired with each course. The chutneywali masoor dal struck me as unique, although I still prefer the basic one myself. My vote went instantly to the creamy gobi or cauliflower, swathed in cream but decadent, nevertheless.

The shahi paratha again was a treat. Bursting with a sinful filling, it paired well with the rich gravies and dry preparations alike.

The kofta roganjosh was delicious, with a soft and creamy texture and the right hint of spice.

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What can say about the mutton aloo bukhara? Yes with dried plums wrapped in masala and inextricably co-mingled with the mouth-watering mutton this dish was the piece de resistance for me. Cooked to perfection, the mutton simply melt in the mouth. Luscious flavours enveloped my palate and I was satiated. So much so that I skipped the halwa behzai, which I had all along been looking forward to.

The food boasted of unique flavours, with no spice overpowering the core ingredients. Yet, the food was rich and heavy, expectedly so. The cuisine is meat intensive and does not make use of too many vegetables.

Being a Punjabi myself, sampling this food from the royal kitchens of Patiala was a revelation, but one that I will always cherish.

 

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Guilty Pleasures in Winter

Winter foods can be such a delight for the palate and one does not mind giving into one’s guilty pleasures in this season. After all, one needs more calories to keep oneself warm. So indulgence is allowed this cold season. Warmth is  a must of course, but comforting foods are what the body and soul need.

Spices and nuts should be a part of one’s meal, as should be meats, including lamb. Ghee, ginger, seasonal vegetables like turnips, brussel sprouts, raddish, peas, broad beans, carrots are a must-have to help the body fight infections and remain warm.

As the temperatures drop, one also likes to indulge in hot and delicious grilled foods. There is nothing more enticing than the aroma of slowly grilled meat, fish and vegetables.

Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag tops every foodie’s list. Not many know that sarson ka saag being rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, that are important antioxidants and a significant amount of iron, is ideal for winter.

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Beetroot is rich in minerals and helps in increased blood flow in the body, essential to keep one warm. Jaggery or gur is a great winter food too. It aids in digestion, purifies blood and keeps the skin free from acne. The best way to enjoy Gur is to eat it with make ki roti and white butter.

Interestingly, every region in India celebrates this season with typical dishes. If North India relishes their sarson ka saag and Kaali Gajar ki Kaanji, Gujaratis cannot do without their oondhiyo. It is eaten in winter because the main ingredients like papadi, tuar Dana, Lilua, for Oondiyo are available in this season.

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Nalli Ghosht and Paya shorba are popular winter dishes in most households in Hyderabad. Bengalis enjoy their Kosha mangsho a mutton preparation and also several leafy vegetables and sweets made from nolen gur or new jaggery.

So make sure you gorge on all the right foods this season and relish seasonal favourites, which are healthy for the body and equally comforting too as you beat the chill.

Shaan-e-Awadh @Jeon

A seemingly complex cuisine like the Awadhi, when simplified, in terms of flavours, can only be an achievement, attributed to a great chef. Chef Chandan Singh at Jeon, Hotel Sea Princess Juhu Mumbai, has manged to do just that. Without a doubt, the Awadhi Food Festival which begins here tomorrow is bound to find favour with foodies of all age groups.

This aromatic rich cuisine, replete with dry fruits, nuts and spices is famed for certain dishes. Nalli Nihari, Biryani, Taftan, Dal Makhani are a must, in a menu offering this cuisine. And Chef Chandan Singh along with fellow chef Amit and Executive Chef Jersen Fernandes has put together a menu, which showcases the best of Awadh.

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The gajar and annanas ka shorba aka carrot and pineapple shorba that we started with, swept me off my feet. The amalgamation of two diversely flavoured ingredients, was done to perfection. One could actually taste the sweetish fresh pineapple as well as the carrot, both immersed in subtle spices.One of the best shorbas I have ever had. It actually left me craving for more. For once, the Murg dhaniya shorba, which was also delicious, seemed plain.

The galouti kebab, the hero of Lucknawi cuisine was as expected, melt-in-the-mouth. The aroma and flavours of spices were pronounced, but not overpowering. The chicken seekh struck me as extraordinary, in terms of the flavours and texture. The seekh was firm and soft, not mushy or chewy as it often tends to be at some restaurants. The meat, laced with herbs and spices, was an interesting bit of innovation.

In the mains, the fish tikki – rawas fillet in a tangy and well-spiced tomato based gravy, got my instant vote. The use of authentic Awadhi spices was a testimony of the chef’s mastery over his craft. No compromise here.

What can I say about the dal bukhara? For a minute, I thought I was at the ITC hotels. Chef Chandan Singh has clearly figured out the secret behind this coveted dish and has done full justice to it.

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The Nalli Nihari was mildly flavoured, but the spices and richness of mutton, teased the palate just a wee bit. The accompanying, sweetish taftan was the perfect pair. Everything else paled in comparison.

The murg biryani was again a treat and perked up my taste buds as I tasted the first spoonful. Well-marinated, the chicken pieces were moist and succulent and meshed seamlessly with the flavoured rice, cooked in dum style. The aroma filled my nostrils as the purdah was removed and the biryani served.

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The shahi tukra was every bit royal. A perfect finale to a great meal. The creamy and rich rabdi wrapped around the deep fried bread laced with nuts and dry fruits was delectable and decadent. The phirni in comparison was a tad bland and disappointing, although the texture was just right.

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The meal overall, was overwhelming and had actually surpassed my expectations. Being used to some Awadhi meals with dishes doused with kewra and rose water and rich and greasy meat dishes, this one was a welcome change. Simple, authentic flavours, true to its Nawabi origins. Yet, nothing in the meal made one feel heavy or caused discomfort.

I left Jeon with a happy smile, almost having made a trip to Awadh.

The Awadhi food festival is on from Nov 5 till November 15 and is a treat, food lovers should not miss.

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

 

A Melange of Traditions & Flavours 

My entry into the Bohri kitchen, well, not literally, but Nafisa Kapadia’s home, to experience its rich and lavish cuisine, needed destiny to intervene. Several times, family and friends, made plans to “do the experiential” Bohri thaal at The Bohri Kitchen, run by Munaf Kapadia in Colaba, offering his mother’s lip-smacking food, but somehow for me, it never worked out.

On Eid, this year, I was lucky. Yes, to receive a kind invitation from Burrp to celebrate Eid with other fellow foodies. the next day at The Bohri Kitchen. I was excited. Kept my fingers crossed, as I accepted the invitation.

And yes, on the stipulated Friday afternoon, I actually made it. A warm welcome from the lady herself, Nafisa and her son Munaf, and I got pleasant vibes as I entered their home.

A cooling drink made with nariyal pani (coconut water) and tender coconut, not only refreshed me, but made my stomach get ready to brace the onslaught of rich and spicy Bohri food. Or so I thought.

A large thaal or platter was placed on the table. Yes, Bohri meals are meant to be shared. Salt was passed around as that is how the meal begins. One must cleanse one’s palate so as to be able to taste and savour each distinct dish.

A date and almond chutney, a green chutney, pineapple and boondi raita and diced nimbus or lemons in a bowl were already placed, to enjoy with the various dishes.

Kheema samosas were served first. One dish is served at a time. Munaf instructed us to bite into the samosa, squeeze some lime to release the smoked flavours of the mutton. We did so and discovered how right he was. A dash of the green mint and coriander chutney, further tickled our palates. I was ready for the next.

Chicken drumsticks came next. Fried to perfection and well-spiced, these were equally delicious.

To my utter surprise, sheer kurma, or seviyan(vermicelli) replete with nuts et al in thickened milk, a sweet dish, came next. Apparently, that is how a Bohri meal is best enjoyed – Mithaas and khaaras, aka sweet and savoury must be contrasted,  to enjoy the meal, the Bohris believe.

Flawless, was the first word that came to my mind for the sheer kurma. The perfect proportion of milk, vermicelli and sugar. I generally don’t like the ones where the vermicelli swells up and enevelopes the entire bowl.

Each course was interesting and I was relishing this entire culinary journey with Munaf explaining how each dish was to be enjoyed and the reason behind the sequence.

Everyone went into a tizzy as the piece de resistance- the Raan was served. And that too in two contrasting gravies- a red masala, spicy and luscious and a creamy, white, cashew based gravy. The salli on top of the red masala version, added to the flavours and textures. My vote went to this one instantly. The mutton was succulent and melt in the mouth. It had been marinated for days and absorbed the spices, extremely well.

In between, we sipped the rose sherbet with sabja seeds. Again to cool our systems from the abundant red meat we were consuming.

Chicken bhuna paired with aam ras or mango pulp? This was a first for me. But a marriage made in heaven. No one did not have to dip the chicken in the aam ras of course, but eat both together, to bring out the best in each other. Complimentary?

What can I say about the Gosht biryani? Thsi was the jaman or the main course. It surpassed my expectations. Not oily or greasy at all. Well-layered and perfectly spiced, the mutton pieces, seamlessly mingled with the long grain rice and the potatoes. This dish rendered me speechless.

I was surprised at myself as I willingly helped myself to the accompanying paya soup (lamb trotters soup) something which I usually never venture to do. It was the appearance which made me do so. Light and appealing it looked. And it was. Absolutely mild and flavourful.

This was a never-ending gastronomic journey and yet, I was not complaining.

The sancha ince cream-litchi and mango, was the perfect finale to our meal. But today. even the desserts paled in comparison to the sumptuous repast.

The hospitality was fuss-free but warm, the meal, hygienically served and each dish, mouth-watering and authentic.

What is heartening to know is that The Bohri Kitchen does home delivery too.

This is a gastronomical experience no non vegetarian should miss. Of course you have got to be a hard core carnivore to devour this thaal.

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

 

Utterly Butterly Delicious!

A young, energetic chef like Saransh Goila, is someone who I admire, for his talent, individuality and simple, real food. His Goila Butter Chicken has been doing the foodie rounds for a while now and I have, for the longest time, yearned to taste it. Yupp! that’s the Punjabi in me speaking.

So when I was selected to be one of the lucky few to get a sneak preview of the Goila Butter chicken or paneer, I was ecstatic.

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Being a day when I was vegetarian, I opted for Paneer and no regrets at all. No, I did not miss the chicken as the Goila Butter Paneer was as good, if not better. All ye vegetarians, are you listening please?

Along with the Goila Butter Paneer came a delectable kali dal, anardana chutney and a roomali roti. My day, oops! dinner as made.

Saransh specifies that he does not use any cream in his Goila Butter Chicken/Paneer and that is a huge relief. Not a fan of it in my savoury dishes at all.

A spoonful of the gravy of the Goila Butter Paneer and I could vouch for its lightness. The texture of the gravy was creamy alright, but with the use of kasoori methi and cashewnuts, as Chef Saransh promises. The smoky flavour as equally distinct, and that’s what sets it apart. I loved the fact that there was not a very pronounced tart and tangy taste, but instead, well-balanced flavours. Not the usual rich and creamy, butter paneer, this!

A buttery feel, the gravy had, as it just disappeared from my palate, but not before leaving a delicious after taste. But no, I could not taste any heavy butter and did not experience the accompanying uneasiness, which is characteristic of such dishes. The quality of paneer used was unmistakably superior and fresh.

The dal reminded me of the one, I used to have back home, made by my mother. No overtly tangy flavours here too, as is the case with many, from restaurants. The texture was right and the dal grains, had a definite bite to them, yet, as soft and mushy, as they should be.

The Anardana chutney struck me as unique. It had an appealing appearance as well as interesting mild flavours of yogurt and mint.

Overall, my meal was a delight for the taste buds and even several hours later, I experienced no discomfort, as is often the case with a butter chicken/paneer, dal makhni kind of meal. This one was reminiscent of home style food, albeit with a bit of indulgence.

I was satiated for now, but not satisfied. This is the kind of meal, which teases your palate mercilessly and urges you to have more.

Like all food lovers and Chef Saransh fans, I too am eagerly awaiting the opening of Goila Butter Chicken, a delivery and take-away joint, started by Chef Saransh Goila and his partner, Vivek Sahni, on June 24 near the D.N. Nagar Metro station Andheri West.

I don’t know about all the dishes, but the ones I sampled are surely going to give several established players, a run for their money.

Good luck Goila Butter Chicken, keep going!

Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purani Dilli Once More

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.

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I was surprised at myself, as I was not uneasy at all, having sampled so many dishes, albeit, a spoonful each.

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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.

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Getting a chance to treat yourself to the lost flavours of Purani Dilli is something any gourmet ought to do.

 

Nawaabon Ke Kebab

Mostly Grills, the rooftop barbecue restaurant at The Orchid, Mumbai, has always been one of my fav dining places in the city, thanks to the great food and spectacular view.

I was delighted to go there yet again, albeit after a long gap. And there was ample reason too, as they were hosting the biggest kebab trail.

Chef Shadaab from Lucknow, has curated an interesting menu, to tantalize the taste buds of diners with an array of eclectic kebabs,from the lands of erstwhile nawabs – Awadh (Lucknow), Nizams and other kingdoms, that are famous for their kebabs.

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The place had been transformed completely into a haven for diners, complete with ghazals, artifacts and decor representative of the Nawabi lifestyle. The era had been beautifully recreated.

The melt in the mouth galouti kebab, arrived first. My all time favorite kebab. It did not disappoint me. The texture was perfect and the flavours, authentic. The Kakori kebab, I thought, might pale in comparison, but Chef Shadaab, did not let me down here too. The mince boasted of  great textures and robust flavours, replete with spices, so characteristic of this kebab.

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The accompanying chutneys were unique too. I particularly found the banana and tamarind one to be palate-tickling.

I was blown away with the shinghara atta and corn tikki. Yes, water chestnut flour had been dexterously paired with corn to make a delectable tikki.

The highlight of the dinner was the live trolley where chef  was making kebabs and other barbecue items live in front of  us. Oh! What a spectacle that was. I could not help, but admire the manner in which the kebabs were being adroitly flambeed by chef.

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The Mawa and dry fruit sheekh was a delight for the palate, where the sweetness of dry fruits was cleverly balanced with the meat. Chef Shadaab is truly a master of his craft.

The piece de resistance was the Tatari champ. Kid lamb chops marinated overnight with Andhra chili, cumin, cloves and pure ghee cooked in tandoor. An absolute treat for carnivores. Gourmets can also feast on Maheen Samak tikka (Bekti fish marinated with ginger garlic and aromatic herbs slow cooked live)

Chef Shadaab who hails from Alamganj, Lucknow  had a plethora of vegetarian offerings too, which according to him, the Royals feasted upon.

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In the vegetarian section, my vote went to the Meve mave ki khaas sheekh (Cottage cheese treated with condensed milk , saffron and nuts and char grilled live. Being a lover of potatoes, I relished the Tandoor Bharwan Lahori Aloo  too, where the potatoes were scooped and stuffed with spices, raisins and almonds.

The chef has procured the spices and other condiments from various places to ensure the authentic taste.

The food struck me as unique, with authenticity being  showcased in each dish. The ingredients used, were of good quality and completely fresh.

What do I say about the biryanis, niharis, salans and special Indian breads, which were on offer. Sheermal, Baqarkhani, Khamiri roti , laccha paratha, lasooni naan were delightfully paired with lip-smacking gravies and salans.

Each dish was authentic and well-prepared, using the slow cooking methods of that region and as per the demands of that cuisine. Some of the non vegetarian main course dishes are Shahi Nihari (Lamb shanks simmered on low heat cooked overnight served with Khamera naan), Degi Gosht (Baby lamb cooked with coconut, cumin and tamarind flavour gravy), Achari jhinga (Tiger prawns stir fried in Hyderabadi pickled spice, finished with tamarind pulp), Pudina machli ka salan (Pomfret cooked with onion, tomato, and mint gravy).

The food was flavourful, but yes, rich and heavy. But I guess once in a while, with spread like this, one can do with a bit of indulgence.

As in a royal repast, I finished my meal with Sewiyan ka Muzaffar (Vermicelli cooked win condensed milk topped with nuts).

There were other options too, but of course I skipped those. Sheer kurma, Khubani ka meetha, Shahi Tukda, Shahi Falooda. A paan counter too is part of the festival, for those who want to digest their food.

With Ghulam Ali and Jagjit Singh’s ghazals fading away in the background, I made my way out of Mostly Grills, after a memorable Kebab Trail and hospitality, fit for the nawabs.

On till April 17, 2016 only for dinner, don’t miss this if Kebabs are what appeases your taste buds.