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Daawat-e-Maghrib

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).

IMG_20150917_004821I 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.

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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Flavours of Thailand

Flavours of Thailand

By Priyali Prakash

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With the ever increasing exposure to different cuisines from all over the world, Indians are experimenting with their choices even more and Thai cuisine has definitely stood out as one of the favourites. Keeping this in mind, Blooms Restaurant of Eros International, Nehru Place has come up with a Thai Food Festival.

With an exotic buffet of colourful vegetables and succulent meats laid out on a boat-shaped table decorated with antiques inspired by Thai way of living, Blooms has gone out of their way to invite Chef Mhee from Chiang Mai restaurant, Gurgaon to showcase an authenticity of flavours in the food being served during this festival.

While the Naam Takrai, the lemongrass cooler served as the welcome drink comes across as a little too sweet, the following appetisers specially Som Tam, raw papaya salad with a fish sauce dressing and dry shrimp, garlic, chilli, lime and palm sugar is a delicious start to the meal. The mince chicken salad with spring onions is quite minty in flavour.

The Po Pai Thod, vegetable spring rolls can easily pass off as our regular spring rolls whereas Koong Pun Ooy, prawns with sugarcane is a sure shot winner among the snacks. The dish does not have the peculiar smell that goes with maximum prawn dishes and tastes amazing at the same time, which makes it stand out from the other dishes.

The chicken and tofu Satay comes with a tangy cucumber salad and choice of peanut butter and sweet chilli sauce as side dips. Other starters include Thod Man Plan, fish cakes and Thod Man Khao Phod, corn cakes.

The mains include the Thai favourite, Phad thai noodles which have a sweetish tinge to them. Also served for the mains is steamed rice infused with fresh herbs. The Pla Nueng Ma Nao, lemon steamed fish is the best of the lot. Conventionally a street food in Thailand, this steamed fish comes with a tangy lemon sauce and chillies- simple yet full of flavours. The fish is soft and steamed to perfection. Phad Phak Ruam Mitr, the stir fried mixed vegetables are a good option for vegetarians, considering that there aren’t really many vegetarian options. The Phad Nam Prik Pow Kae, lamb stir with Thai chilli paste tastes a lot like our desi lamb chilli.

Goong Samun Prai, sweet and sour tamarind prawns with crispy thai herbs makes a refreshing dish. The curries are a little somewhat coconutty in flavour- both the Soya chop Penang curry and the mixed vegetables in yellow curry.

In desserts, Tub Tim Krob  (Sweetened crispy water chestnuts in sweet coconut milk with crushed ice) and Klauy Buad Chee (Banana in warm sweet coconut milk) were amazing to end the food journey.

Word of Caution: Most of the dishes have a dominating taste and aroma of ginger and lemongrass. Make sure that you don’t have a problem with too much of these very strong flavours.

 The festival is on till April 19th at Eros Hotel, Nehru Place

 

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.