From the historic times, the Awadhi Cuisine has played an integral part in enriching our food culture and celebration till today, with all the irresistible kebabs that are grilled on the slowly burning coal or the delectable biryani cooked on dum; add to that the nawabi desserts and kormas. With Lucknowi Chef Anjum Hasan in the house, it was time for the guests to discover the nawabs in them on the 9th of February, 2016, at Dastarkhan E-Khas “Andaaz Ae Lucknow” held at The Marble Room, Kenilworth Hotel to celebrate the Lucknow Food Festival – written Samreen Akhter
Awadhi Cuisine, greatly influenced the Mughal cooking techniques, is the gift given to the world the Bawarchis of Lucknow and it’s surrounding areas. Involving the art of cooking on a slow flame, the food is prepared from the finest ingredients and rich spices, thus imparting a distinct, but subtle, flavour heady for our senses. It was no wonder that the excitement and craving in the room was palpable.
The plush, red interiors underlined the excitement and vibrancy in the place and simultaneously created a regal decor, beautifully depicting the Chef’s passion for cooking. Being a complete foodie herself, Ms. Hasan has been in the culinary field for more than two decades now. Like everyone else from Lucknow, she takes immense pride in the her food. While telling us more about it, she explained a few links that exist between Awadhi and the Bengali cuisines – both come from places where the people are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about food and, surprisingly, the second point was mustard oil or paste which is widely used in the dishes prepared in both these cuisines.
We started with classics such as Mutton Galawti Kebab and Murgh Pasanda along with Matar ki Tikiya. We also learnt that the secret behind the melt-in-the-mouth Galati Kebabs was the Nawabs who became old and lost all their teeth, still wanted to enjoy their kababs without going through the hassle of chewing them. And just how creatively, their bawarchis handled this challenge?!
The main course consisted of a scrumptious spread of Nihari Gosht (in the pic above), Vegetarian Biryani, Paneer ke Dolme, Ulte Taawe ke Roti, Afghani Naan, Khameeri Roti and Mutton Biryani.
The word ‘Dulme’ means stuffing and a healthy twist had been added to the dish a spinach paste in between the paneer layers. The crunchy almond flakes not only added a fresh, creamy taste to the dish, but also helped make it look colourful. The mutton in in the nihaari was extremely soft and juicy and not at all over cooked. Eating that with Ulte Tawe ki Roti which was as light as feather and crispy took the deadly combination to an all new height.
One cannot help but notice one big difference between the biryani made in Kolkata and that made in other parts of the country. Biryani, in Kolkata is incomplete without our beloved aloo, while it is absent in the biryani from other regions. The last Awadh had been sent into exile the British and was living in Calcutta (as that is what the city was known as in those days) on a limited budget. With mutton being so expensive, it was decided to introduce the versatile aloo into the Biryani and the rest, as we all we know, is history!