In the book “The Emperor’s Table – The Art Of Mughal Cuisine“, the author Salma Hussain writes about the food habits of seven Mughal emperors who ruled from 1526 onwards. The food in the Mughal Era was not enshrouded with sauces and spices but was balanced and wholesome, prepared using few spices and aromatic herbs. Taking a peek into the food from the Mughal Era, Chef Osama Jalali now showcases forgotten heirloom recipes at Kitchen District, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon.
From Rampur To Shahjahanabad
Culinary famed Osama Jalali and his family have spent a considerable part of their life in Rampur and Delhi. While in Rampur, his mother had the opportunity of learning dishes from the khansamahs of the Nawab of Rampur and she learnt the dilli style of cooking. when they shifted to Old Delhi where their house was opposite Jama Masjid. The Rampur style of cooking is more Nawabi and Riyasati, more aromatic and subtle while Delhi food is robust, rustic and uses a considerable amount of ghee or clarified butter. With her passion for cooking, she learnt from the cooks and neighbours who had resided in the area for centuries.
Mughal Cuisine At Kitchen District, Hyatt Regency, Gurgaon
The ongoing festival offers these spectacular dishes from the regions of both Rampur and Shahjahanabad and the recipes he uses are like a treasure passed to him by his mother. It displays the vibrancy and the vast spread of taste the Mughal hearths were known for. There’s a piece of history in every bite of the dish on the menu. It is the food that has been cooking in homes in Old Delhi or Shahjahanabad, as it was called in the mid-17th century. It’s not easy to implement such a concept in its true essence as tremendous research and trials are required to replicate the true Mughal flavours from an era where food was cooked sans chilli.
Aurangzeb was known as the vegetarian Mughal king and the appetiser platter boasts of “Kebab-e-burgul“, a kebab that uses masar ki daal, broken wheat (dalia), pepper, coriander and served with spicy mint chutney. Much like its name “chaprikh”, the chapli kebab was round, flattened and wholesome with a slightly charred exterior. Other starters include kathal kebab, fish kebab and chicken seekh kebabs.
If there is a dish that intrigued me with its complexity and the wondrous process behind it, it was the “Kancha Kofta”. Frozen desi ghee is shaped like a marble and a kofta is built on it, which when cooking slowly dissolves leaving behind a void. When served it looks like a regular kofta curry but when sliced the circular empty space is clearly visible. This beauty of a dish was part of erstwhile Mughal cuisine which has faded away now.
It is the presence of aromatic spices, subtle flavours and slow-cooking which is the hallmark of Rampuri cuisine. With the “Taar Gosht” the chef brings out a perfect ambassador from the Rampuri kitchen — lamb tempered by a refreshing bouquet of spices and mellowed by dum cooking. The “Do Goshta Pulao” is a perfect example of how the delicately flavoured Persian ‘pilaf’ met the rich, spicy Mughal dishes in the kitchens of Emperors Humayun and Akbar to create the biryani with mutton pieces and chicken meatballs. “Moti Paneer, Dal Gosht, Dal Bharta, Rampuri Khichdi, Paneer Parchay, Mangochi and a few other rare and spectacular dishes bedazzle the senses with their extraordinary flavours.
The desserts are just as tempting. The ‘Maleedah’ is a quick, rich dessert made with crushed ‘Makki ki roti’ with shakkar, almonds, dates and dry fruits. Do not miss the “Gosht ka Halwa”. To me, this is a dessert that needs standing applause. The meat, sugar, spices are cooked together to create a unique meat-based dessert. Absolutely creamy and delicious!
Even though the property is an hour and a half away from my residence in Delhi, the amazing food was well worth the drive. For many who are hesitant to go out due to the pandemic or because of the distance, are not able to attend the festival, the food can be delivered as well after the festival through the delivery kitchen @themughalplate (Mobile: 8076192715)
Details of the festival
Date: 2nd April to 11th April 2021
Time: 7 pm to 11 pm
Venue: Kitchen District, Hyatt Regency, Gurugram
Price: Average of INR 2150 (plus taxes) onwards
Table Reservations: 0124 5021234, +91 8130100190