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Noor- The flickering light of lost recipes of the Mughals

Noor- The flickering light of lost recipes of the Mughals

                                                                                                            Saira Mujtaba

Baat niklegi toh bahot dur talak jayegi… This couplet from the famous ghazal echoes in my head whenever I have a conversation on Mughlai food with someone. The city which was once an epitome of grandeur and royalty, the remnants of its magnificence are still seen in the astounding monuments dotting the city’s skyline. But Mughlai food being a very important part of the city’s royalty seems to have got influenced over time and one can’t really find the authentic taste and aroma that once emanated from the Royal kitchens of Shahjahanabad. Not only the taste of some popular dishes like qorma and biryani has got influenced by traces of other places (Moradabadi biryani being one such delicacy that has fused in the so-called Mughlai platter of Delhi), some of the dishes that were once served to the Royalty are now probably lost…or so I thought. This was the lament that I was living with until Fate made me acquainted with Mohammed Noor who traces his roots to the Royal chefs of Shah Jahan.

Nestled on the bustling road in front of Gate No. 1 of the grand Jama Masjid, Noor’s kitchen is a meek one room with a tandoor in one corner and 2-3 ‘chulhas’ with copper ‘degs’ sending out wafts of aroma into the air that tingle the tastebuds. The soot covered walls of the kitchen withholding so many secrets of lost Mughal recipes too.

_DSC5276Noor stands out from the rest of the Mughlai cuisine chefs as he’s got the knack and art of preparing Mughlai food in his genes, for his forefathers served the Mughals seven generations ago and passed on this culinary magic to their progeny of which Noor is a flickering lamp in the city of glittery lights and glamour. Noor is the man behind the lost recipes of Mughlai kitchens. But in his own words, “ Mujhe English bolna nahi aati (I don’t know how to speak English language), and hence he feels that some big names who hog the limelight and organise food festivals in snazzy hotels exploit his talent and don’t give him much credit.

Noor considers Haji Kallan as his Ustaad. His ancestors used to work under Haji Kallan while serving the Royals and even today Noor is associated with Haji’s family as a part time cook.

Name any dish of the Mughlai cuisine and Noor knows it on fingertips. Ever heard of ‘gosht ka halwa’? Yes, I couldn’t believe that mutton could be served as a dessert as well, but Noor is adept in preparing all these unique dishes.

Kaancha Kofta, Mutanjan-Utanjan, Tumba Biryani, Mutton Barra, murgh musallam- bakra musallam and the list is endless. But it’s a travesty that people like Noor whose fingers possess the magic of preparing exquisite Mughlai foods, have to strive hard to make their presence felt. “Bade bade hotel mein ladke khaana pakaate hain par unke paas hunar nahi hai, sirf degree hai…mere paas hunar hai par degree nahi hai, isi liye main maat khaata hun (All these big hotels employ young boys who don’t have talent but they have degrees….I’ve got talent but don’t have a degree and that’s where I lag behind.)

Noor plans to pass on all the secrets of these lost recipes of Mughlai cuisine to one of his sons, but only time will tell if he will get his due in a world where degree sans true talent and refined English language overshadows real worth.

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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Dilli 6 Festival at Level-2 Radisson Blu

Dilli 6 Festival at Level-2 Radisson Blu, Paschim Vihar

By Anubhav Sapra

Being a strong street food freak, I try not to miss any festival that celebrates the Delhi’s rich street food culture. To me, it seems that Dilli 6 is the epitome of street food of Delhi and has also inspired chefs to reinvent the street delicacies to be served in the restaurants.

DSC_0063Level-2 Radisson Blu is hosting a street food festival till 30th August. The lunch buffet is priced at Rs 999 + taxes and Dinner buffet at Rs 1299 + taxes. On offer are the famous street delicacies of Dilli 6- Golgappe,  chaat, Dahi Bhalla , Gol Gappe, Kanji Vada, Bhel Poori, Moonglet, Lassi Kulfi, Chai, Allo Tikki, Panathe, Tawa Chicken,Lassi Kulfi, Moong Daal Ka Halwa, Pineapple Halwa and many more.

The ambience is nicely done with live counters of the dishes. Cutting chai counter, however, is worth mentioning – there was a thela (pushcart) with a tea-vendor making tea. There were also the jars of in-house made fen, rusks, and matthi.

The day I visited, I tried almost all the dishes that were there on the Street Food Menu. The highlight of the visit was Aloo Matar tikki (Potato and green peas patty), Rajbhog and Cutting Chai with fen. The aloo matar tikki was crisp and garnished with yoghurt and spicy coriander mint chutney and sweet saunth chutney. I liked it so much that I couldn’t stop asking for another helping; without any sauce-just the tikki. It was simply delicious. Rajbhog consisted of soft bhallas with raisins, cashews and pepper blended with yoghurt, saunth and green chutney. In the main course, I tried the only non vegetarian dish available in the menu- Tawa Chicken and parantha, which was fairly good.

The only missing link was the lack of options for non-vegetarians. I found the kebabs, kormas and biryani which forms the intrinsic part of Dilli-6 missing. However, one can enjoy the regular non-vegetarian dishes available in the buffet at Level-2.

I ended my Dilli 6 journey with pineapple halwa and two cups of masala chai with crisp and layered fen.

 

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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OLD DELHI- A FOODIE’S HEAVEN

OLD DELHI- A FOODIE’S HEAVEN

It’s not just about the crowded narrow lanes, the old havelis, nor the Red Fort, but it is so much more than all this. Old Delhi appeals many not only because of the above stated reasons among others, but because of the old world charm it still manages to hold. Purani Dilli is like a crowd-puller which calls people even from far off places. It is a hub of so many cultures, traditions, cuisines and has something for each one.

It is most famous for its street food and welcomes everyone who wants to taste the traditional Indian food in desi style! Where else will it be considered a disgrace to have Pani Puri with mineral water and in an air- conditioned restaurant but in Old Delhi? It knows that Pani Puri tastes the best on roadside!

One of the best things about Old Delhi is its flavour. If you really want to taste was an actual plate of Dahi Bhalla or sewaiyyon ka halwa tastes like, Purani Dilli is the place. It has handled the flavours very well and still manages to keep them intact in the dish. I recommend you treat your taste buds here at least once! There is a lot that Old Delhi offers.

After one hectic day, even I set out to satisfy my hunger along with a friend of mine who had never been to the ever glorified Chandni Chowk. We preferred to stroll in the lanes so we could explore more and after quiet a long walk, we landed ourselves in one of the most popular restaurants in Old Delhi, Shiv Mishthan Bhandar. If you go from Red Fort towards Fatehpuri, it’s located in the end at the right side, near Bikanerwala. We went through the menu after being warmly welcomed by the owner, Raja Bhai. Since he told us that Bedmi Puri is the most popular dish, we ordered the same. We also ordered Chole Bhature. The service was pretty good and the food was served hot and in very little time.

DSC04686Jalebi

Hungry as we always are, we smacked the food. Honestly speaking, the puri was a hit. It was hot, crispy and perfectly fried. This hearty dish is fried puffed bread with a mix of lentils and spices. Urad Dal is the main addition to the puri which also makes the texture a little granulated. It is crispier than the normal puri. Some people also add ‘hing’ to the puri for flavour. The red chilli added to the pitthi of Urad dal makes the puri spicy. I would give 8/10 to the puri but only 6/10 to the subzi, since it wasn’t that scrumptious. Salt was in excess in the subzi and it was not even prepared very well. Overall I would rate the dish at 7/10.

After finishing the puri subzi, we dipped our fingers in the chole bhature, which was a better option than the puri subzi, simply because both the bhature and the chole were perfectly made. The bhature were golden brown and and the chole were aptly spiced. The mango pickle with the chole was a great addition. Chole Bhature would get 8/10 from me.

After the enjoyable lunch, we ordered imartis. They are quite similar to jalebis but not totally. Imarti  is made from a variety of urad flour and deep fried in a circular shape. Saffron is also added for colour and afterwards it is dipped in sugar syrup. They are usually yellow- orange in colour due to the saffron.

Perfectly crisp and sweetened imartis put an end to our foodelicious journey.

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Shiv Mishthan offers a fairly large variety of Indian snacks and dishes at quite reasonable prices. The owner, Raja Bhai told us that they cater around 500 people daily and Bedmi Puri is a favourite with all. Hope you grab of the same too!

Meal for two- Rs. 150-200

For further information you can contact

Raja Bhai- 8376825232

Address- 375, Kucha Ghasi Ram, Chandni Chowk, Delhi- 110006.

By Kashish (Foodie Correspondent)

Photo Credit- Piyush Nagpal

 

 

 

Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.