Daawat-e-Maghrib @ Singh Sahib
By Anubhav Sapra
Food knows no boundaries. It connects people across globe. I was at the Eros, the other day to be a part of the Pakistani Food Festival named Dawat-e-maghrib, where I had a privilege to share the table with one of the celebrity chefs of Pakistan, Gulzar Hussain. We had such an intense discussion around food that I took him across Old Delhi, the very next day, to sample some of the local dishes of Bazar Matia Mahal in Jama Masjid.
To be clear, Singh Sahib Restaurant at Eros Hotel is hosting a ten-day Pakistani Food Festival, Dawat-e-maghrib till 25th September. The chefs – Chef Gulzar and Chef Naseem from Pakistan has come to Delhi to showcase the delicacies straight from the land of Pakistan – Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan and Karanchi. This seems to me a not-to-miss-out thing.
Chef Gulzar Hussain is a well known name in Pakistan. Chef Gulzar took his professional training from Japan and worked there for about 12 years and married a Japanese lady. He has also spent years with his family in Thailand and gained expertise in Thai food too. He finally settled in Karachi, Pakistan and opened a Thai restaurant. He also started his TV career with his morning show on a famous TV channel, HUM TV and till date he has worked in almost all the famous cooking channels in Pakistan. His recipes are famous all over Pakistan and he is loved by millions of food lovers (Source: Zaiqa).
I must admit that it was one of the most memorable meals of my life. The food was truly delectable. I started with the famed chapli kebab of Pakistan- the flat kebabs made with whole spices. In India, the focus is more on making the kebabs tender such that they simply melt in mouth. Whereas, the chapli kebabs, I sampled in the festival were coarse in texture and the use of whole spices seem to have added a different taste to it. The raw spices especially the coriander seeds blended well with the meat. Another starter, chargah- whole spring chicken, double cooked, steamed and later fried with spices was delicious too. Lahori fish fry was worth trying- the surmai fish is first marinated with lahori spices and later deep fried. Other dishes in the starters were murgh boti and malai mushrooms.
In the main course, I had mutton nahari which appeared to be quite distinct from the Delhi one. This dish was a little spicier and the mutton pieces were bigger in size. The gravy was excellent and had a stew-like consistency. Chef Gulzar revealed that nahari and siri paya is a popular breakfast dish in Pakistan. The same dishes are still popular in Old Delhi- nahari, magaz/bheja and nalli. That brings our Old Delhi food culture a bit closer to Pakistan. Macchli salan was yet another dish cooked with ajwain and methi.
A vegetarian dish, aloo ki katliyan became one of my favourites. It was a dry preparation of potato with tomato, cumin and turmeric. The recipe seemed to be really simple but the dish was flavourful. The biryani was again full of flavours- memoni biryani – an extremely spicy biryani developed by memons of Gujarat-Sindh region. It is cooked in akhni style. In desserts, pethay ka halwa, sheer khorma, and lab-e-shireen – rich Pakistani custard with fresh cut fruits and dry nuts were served.