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A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair
By Saira Mujtaba
A cool breeze with the moon radiantly shining behind the curtain of clouds set the right mood to treat the tastebuds with a sumptuous dinner. So, the natural choice was to head towards the ongoing Awadhi Food Festival at Courtyard Marriott in Sushant Lok, Gurgaon. The plush interiors failed to grab my attention because there was nothing on my mind but- FOOD!!
I was cordially greeted by the staff who were dressed in gold and silver anarkalis (which was more mughlai than the Awadhi angarkhas) but nontheless the warm hospitality made up for that. The decor  was colourful and splendid with multi-coloured embroidered umbrellas and punkahs hanging from the ceiling. The aroma was overwhelming and my mouth was already salivating with each breath but patiently waiting for Chef Amit de rigeur. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait much and Chef Amit with his smiling face was right there.
I preferred to take a tour of the buffet and then later decide on what would I choose to have on my platter. But first Chef Amit made a point that the ongoing festival would serve around 100 different dishes spread across 12 days till October 15th! Whoa!! That was indeed impressive. The hors d’ouevre for that night’s Awadhi dastarkhwan had something for both vegetarians as well as non-veg lovers. Harey Matar ki Tikki was a pleasant aberration from the usual aaloo cutlets, while Reshami Kebabs were our very own Shami Kebabs with a fancy name and there were also Kali Mirch ke chote Aaloo and Chicken Shikampori. There were also two kinds of soups namely, Kaddu ka Shorba and Macchi Tamatar Shorba. Chef Amit wasted no time  in cruising us through the main course which had some delightful delicacies. Many known to me already but some that I chanced upon for the very first time. There was Keema Kaleji ka, Nargisi Kofte, Subz Anjeer ke Kofte, Chicken Kali Mirch, Laung Bahaar ki Machchli, Nahari and of course, the Dumpukht Biryani along with its vegetarian variant.
“I have learned the nitty-gritties of Awadhi cuisine from my guru Shri Imtiaz Qureshi Saab. Obviously I have kept in mind that people have become very health conscious these days and therefore I haven’t added desi ghee in abundance but yes, the Awadhi flavours are intact,” quips Chef Amit Dash.
Murgh Galawat kebab.With my mouth already drooling, I couldn’t wait an iota of a second to dig into the Awadhi dastarkhwan. The appetizers  on my platter were Harey Matar ki Tikki, Chicken Shikampori, Reshami Kebab and Kali Mirch ke Chote Aaloo. I chose to start with the veg snacks as being a die-hard fan of non-veg, I wanted the taste of the kebabs to linger on. Kali Mirch ke Chote Aaloo were appropriately cooked with the skin intact. You could either bite into it or just pop the entire aaloo at one go. I chose the latter so that the black pepper and the mild spices came as a whole along with the taste of potato. The Harey Matar Ki Tikki surprisingly wowed me. The green peas were smoothly mashed into a patty that were crispy on the outside and were fried exactly how a tikki should ideally be- golden brown on the outside that enters the palette of your mouth with a crunch. Chicken Shikampori was the usual chicken seekh kebab. The spices were mild but coupled with the green chutney, it did indeed makes you yearn for another piece. However, the Reshami Kebab failed to impress me. The minced meat wasn’t juicy and I had to replace the first kebab which was overcooked on one side. The second that came was undercooked and broke while taking onto my plate. I had to go back to Harey Matar Ki Tikki so that its flavourful taste lingered for a while.
Moving on to the next course, I chose Subz Anjeer ke Kofte, Chicken Kali Mirch and Nargisi Kofte. I had never heard nor had Anjeer ke kofte on an Awadhi Dastarkhwan. But the mild spices and the subtle sweetness of Anjeer (figs) with its grainy texture indeed was a delight for a vegetarian food lover. Chicken Kali Mirch too had a mild gravy but the chicken was soft and tender. With every bite the strong aroma of black pepper engulfed the senses and there was a subtle taste of the dry fruit paste that added the Awadhi royalty to the food. However, the queen of the platter title would go to Nargisi Kofte. The minced meat had absorbed the garam masala and covering the boiled egg, it indeed enamoured the senses. The minced meat was succulent, just how I prefer my koftas (I simply abhor dry koftas) and the cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices blended exotically in the gravy as well as the minced meat. I wanted to have more of it, but also had to save room for the ultimate Awadhi Biryani which Chef Amit had prepared in the typical Awadhi style in which the rice and the gravy with the meat is alternately placed in layers and then kept on ‘dum’, hence called Dumpukht.

Dum Biryani

For me the biryani was a litmus test of Awadhi cuisine and I was immensely gratified to find the flavours intact and the chicken and the rice were not broken. The ‘dum’ style of cooking allows the rice to absorb the juices of the meat and the spices so that with every bite, one feels the aroma and flavour of spices, unlike other variants in which one only gets the flavour of the biryani on eating the meat while the rice remains untouched by it. But Chef Amit had indeed done a great job in bringing out the authentic taste from the kitchens of Awadh. The Biryani tempted me to have another helping with my hand but again my urban dining ettiquette held me back.
Thande Gulaab ki KheerI was full to the brim but the tempting Thande Gulab Ki Kheer and Chef’s special, Nizam Ki Nazaakat was eagerly awaited to satiate my sweet tooth. The Kheer had fresh desi gulab petals and what I loved the most was unlike the usual gulab kheer. The petals were shredded and were not overpowering the taste of the kheer (which happens when whole rose petals are added). The consistency was apt, neither too thick like a pudding nor very watery. Without much ado, I moved on to the Chef’s special- Nizam Ki Nazaakat. I must admit, I was enamoured with the very first bite. The liquified rabri worked amazingly well with the mini gulab jamuns and boondis that floated lazingly. It had a silky touch to it and the gulab jamuns in every bite left me yearning for more. Though I believe that a dash of almond flakes would have brought it a level higher, but of course, not everyone is as reckless about one’s health as I when it comes to food! And Chef Amit rightly knows that.
So all you foodies out there, make sure to mark a day on your calendar to visit the Awadhi Food Festival at Courtyard Marriott to indulge yourself in Royalty!
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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Nizamuddin Food Walk

 

 

Nizamuddin Food Walk

By Anubhav Sapra

Delhi Food Walks organized a food walk in collaboration with Sair-e-Nizamuddin, a Self Help Group formed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Historically known as village Ghiyaspur after the name of the then Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban, this place was later named Hazrat Nizamuddin after the arrival of Sufi Saint HazratNizamuddin. The community represents a range of interesting cultures, traditions and values which are deeply rooted in its history. From the food practices to the religions and social norms that are followed, everything reflects the history of the community and its people.

The walk started with a visit to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin, the fourth greatest Sufi saint of Chishtiya order. The dargah is one of the most visited shrines of India and attracts thousands of followers of all religions and cultures.

Kit Care Kebab Corner: (Situated near MCD School)The owner, Ameer Hasan, was inspired by his father who was a chef in the Italian Embassy. Initially, he started with Chicken Soup, Mughlai Dishes, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Changezi, Paneer Tikka and ShahiPaneer. As time went by, new items were added to the list to cater to the needs of the public. Chicken Fry, SeekhKebab/Rolls and Roasted Chicken are a few of the new additions. The owner is planning to open a branch in Connaught Place.

Muradabadi Biryani: (Situated near Baoli gate of DargahHazratNizamuddin)The owner, MohammedMajid, started this restaurant in the year 2000. A resident of Moradabad, Western U.P, Majid got inspired by his father who was a well-known chef of Biryani in Moradabad.  The fame that is father garnered motivated him to start a restaurant here in Delhi. He specialises in both chicken and beef biryani.

Mann PasandNahari or MeekuNahari: (Situated on Ghalib road opposite LalMahal) This place was started in 1990. Mr. Meekuwas a Delhite and he started the restaurant with Beef Nahari and NaliNahari. After the demise of Mr. Meeku, it was renamed ManpasandNahari. Today, Mohd. Akbar is the owner of the restaurant and specialises in the same dishes. Chefs in this restaurant have served the Saudi Foreign Ministry for 12 years.

Hussaini Hotel: (Situated next to the Mann PasandNahari shop)The owner, Mohd. Hussain, started this restaurant in 1957. He came from Meerut, a town in Western UP. Today, his son MohdYameen runs the restaurant. They specialise in dishes such as Paya, Daal, Kofta, Chaanp and Qorma. They are the pioneersof Sheermal in the Basti. Also, every Thursday and Sunday they cook a special Biryani for their customers.

Ghalib Kebab Corner: (Situated next to Hussaini Hotel on Ghalib road)The owner, Mohd. Hanif Qureshi started this restaurant in 1971. He was inspired by his family members who were famous chefs in Old Delhi. He invented a type of Kebab which he named after the famous poet ‘Ghalib’. He has recently introduced other dishes such as Qorma, Mutton and Chicken Seekh Kebab, Paneer Tikka etc.

Al-Rafiqu Restaurant: (Situated next to Ghalib Kebab Corner on Ghalib road)The owner Mohd. Rafique Qureshi started this restaurant in 1974. His family has been in the restaurant business for a long time. He specialises in Achari Chicken in the morning hours, Malai Tikka, Chicken Roasted/Tandoori, Fish Tikka and Mutton Qorma. Mr. Rafique is planning to turn his restaurant into a family restaurant in order to cater to larger groups of people.

Al-Quresh Hotel: (Situated on theMarkazi Market or Attar Street)Mohd. Iliyas Qureshi started this restaurant in 2002. Al-Quresh specialises in Chicken Masala, Handi Chicken, Chicken Qorma Boneless, Chicken Haryali Tikka, Chicken Reshmi Kebab, ChikenQalami Kebab.

Hussain Sweet Corner: (Situated opposite Markaz near HamdardDawakhana)The owner Hussain Ahmed started his confectionary shop in 1971. He learnt the process of baking confectionary from his uncle and when time came, chose it as his profession. He began with GajarKaHalwa, Imarti and GulabJamunall of which continue to be in demand till date.

Shams-ud-Din Paan Corner: (Situated next to Hussain Sweet corner)Mohd. Shams-ud-Din started this betel leaf shop in 1949. He came from Amroah district in Western UP. This was his ancestral business, which he has successfully carried on till date. His son, Shahab and Subair run the shop at present. They specialise in various Paans such as Meetha Special, Tobacco Special, Qimam Special and Sada Special.

We ended the walk on a sweet note with their Meetha Special! We thank Md. Asif and Md. Aamir of Aga Khan Trust for Culture for helping us organize a food walk in Nizamuddin. Delhi Food Walks will be having their second walk in the series of Nizamuddin Food Walks in the month of August. Till then, Happy Walking!

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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Tikkas and Curries

                      Tikkas and Curries

‘Tikkas and Curries’ is a multi cuisine eating and a takeaway joint. Located in Guru Nanak market, one can easily spot it by their signature bright and sunny yellow arched canopy. It is not known to many that this amazing eatery is run by former Oberoi chef, Sandeep Kakkar who believes that food is the celebration of life and the real success gained as a chef is when people appreciate the food with complacency and smiles on their faces.

chicken matar bharta

They offer a plethora of delectable, lip smacking dishes ranging from Kebabs, Mutton and Chicken Curries, Tikkas, Biryani served with special mint chutney, veg and non-veg Thali, Chinese, Soya roganjosh, prawns, fish, Paneer and Chicken Rara and Indian desserts like Kesri Kheer and Phirni. Though it’s been 2 ½ years since this joint opened up, they already have their branches at Greater Kailash and Saket going great guns. It’s a small joint with an attached kitchen whereby you can see through the chefs always at work and preparing the much relished dishes emanating an aroma that’s surely to charge up your taste buds, sending you into a trance.

dahi methi gosht

Their speciality is Chicken, Paneer, Soya rara which is prepared with the main ingredient mashed in pure Desi Ghee and Chicken Mutter Bharta, very unique and original in taste and style. Other specialities including the Mushroom Kakori Malai made from button mushrooms and cheese, savory Chicken Afghani prepared in cashew nut paste, Punjabi Malai tikkas, soft and succulent which melt in your mouth at once and Dahi Methi Gosht are certainly going to leave you craving for more.

Staff is amicable and the service is very quick. They provide free home delivery service along with banquet facilities and also specialize in outdoor catering.

The price range is almost Rs 500 for two people.

The timings are from 12 noon till 3:30 pm and in the evening from 7pm to 11pm.

By Foodie Correspondent:Ritika Bali

 

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.