The mention of North Indian food sets one’s mind racing in the direction of popular delicacies from cuisines like Punjabi, Kashmiri, Awadhi and Mughlai. However, the northern part of the country has many more culinary styles to offer that are yet to receive the attention that the aforementioned gastronomies have garnered. One such cuisine being Rampuri cuisine that was recently showcased at a specially curated food festival at renowned Masala Bay restaurant at Taj Lands End Hotel, Mumbai
Chef Mujeeb Ur Rehman, a descendant of khansamas in Nawab Wajid Ali Shah' court gave a glimpse of this lesser known cuisine from Rampur city of Uttar Pradesh state to Mumbaikars through some fantastic heirloom recipes during this festival that concluded on July 9.
Centuries ago the city of Rampur became renowned for being home to illustrious poets as well as numerous khansamas. It was the khansamas in the royal court of Rampur, who went on to give the Rampuri cuisine it's intricate flavours using predominantly khada masala or whole spices, nut pastes and highly aromatic ingredients like ittr, sandalwood powder to create a very refined gastronomy in terms of food technique as well as flavour profile.
In a typical Indian household PAPADS & BADIS are sun dried all through summer for use in subsequent monsoon to make up for lack of availability of a lot of produce during the rainy season. Primarily these two preparations are lentil based but some regional variations may also use rice or sago and follow an intricate process of preparation.
The women of the household engaged in making of the above preparations every summer. These preparations were made as part of a future food strategy planning at a time when there were no refrigeration techniques & local produce was available in specific seasons only. Today these practices are on a decline cause of year round availability of ingredients and sophisticated refrigeration techniques.
It is #AamAchaarDay today! A special food observance day initiated by ace food writer Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal to commemorate this special Indian food accompaniment.
For me it marks a day filled with nostalgia, reminiscing all those wonderful times of summer's mango pickling season. As a kid I grew up in awe of the huge quantities of raw mangoes that would make their way into our kitchen during May and would be pickled by my grandmother and mother for consumption right until the next mango season. Both these ladies had a vast repertoire of recipes and our family would get to eat loads of different kinds of pickles.
My intrigue in the food of beautiful Turkish lands of Izmir & Urfa began when I got hooked onto Turkish sitcoms Fatamagul and The Little Lord respectively on a popular TV channel. The shows constantly referenced yum food like kebabs, meat balls and fresh bread in different episodes. A quick trip to the Middle East gave further information into famed sweets called Turkish delights, flat bread gozleme, traditional ice-cream dondurma & many more delicacies.
This small exposure had left me enthralled and craving for Turkish food, which I could not find in Mumbai. But, with the recent Turkish Food Trails experience initiated by Pondichery Cafe in Sofitel Mumbai BKC in association with Turkish Airlines, I knew I had found a solution to beat my intense cravings for Turkish food. So, with much excitement I made my way to the aforementioned restaurant. Chefs Emre Guven & Ramazan Aydin had been specially flown in from The Elysium Istanbul - MGallery by Sofitel to provide Mumbaikars an authentic Turkish food experience under the aegis of Manav Koul Executive Chef at Sofitel - Sofitel Luxury Hotels and Resorts & his sous chef Gurpreet Singh. The food experience is part of regular lunch and dinner buffets at the café.
It was #WorldMacaronDay yesterday & just an excuse for me to indulge in one of my favourite sugary treats, the macarons.
So, lets find out what is so special about a macaron that makes it the talk of the town. Well, it is confection comprising of egg whites, sugar, powdered almonds and food colouring. The former two are ingredients that give rise to a meringue and hence the name macaron is the Italian term for meringue since this sweet delight is a meringue based dessert and finds its roots in Italy as long ago as 8th century. But, upon its advent on French soil in the 16th century the mixture of the three aforementioned ingredients was piped out as discs and two such discs were brought together after baking with a filling of jam or buttercream. That was the birth of the French macaron. So, this sweet delight that dates back to the 16th century has risen in popularity in India in the past half-decade or so with the arrival of chic dessert bars and patisseries.
My recent tryst with Persian cuisine essentials like kashk, zershk and rob-e anar on my vacation to the Middle East had left my palate intrigued. While I did carry the latter two back to India, they soon ran out during my recipe trials. Ever since then I have been craving a meal dished up with these wonderful ingredients. So, the announcement of Persian Food Festival at Namak at Hotel Sahara Star, Mumbai seemed like the perfect avenue to satiate my Persian food-starved taste buds.
This food festival taking place until March 12, is the brain child of Chef Mujeeb-ur Rehman hailing from the reputed gharana or clan of chefs/khansamas of the Wajid Ali Shah dynasty of Awadh and Chef Mona Nezhad, a home-chef from Hormuz, Iran. Together they have done an exceptional work of familiarizing Mumbaikars with the nuances of Persian gastronomy.
The land of Kashmir has long been revered for its beauty. But, for me as a foodie I derive intrigue when the talk of Wazas or generations of Kashmiri cooks that cook up the royal Wazwan feasts springs up. These cooks are known to stir up close to 30-40 dishes for a single feast sometimes even working overnight with recipes that are a closely guarded secret. So, when Jyran - Tandoor Dining & Lounge at Sofitel, Mumbai decided to hold a Daawat-e-Kashmir festival showcasing glimpses of the elaborate Wazwan, I made a beeline to sample fares of this gastronomic style.
Meat is an integral part of the Kashmiri cuisine and therefore this gastronomy has an extensive repertoire of non-vegetarian preparations. Chicken and mutton are the favored meats for the traditional Wazwan meal. However, there are select vegetarian preparations that served up as well like the famous Dum Aloo, Rajma Masala and Nadru or lotus stem preparations.
The entire menu for the festival was curated by renowned chef Mujeebur Rehman and here is a look at my gluttony at Daawat-e-Kashmir festival.
Winters always draw my thoughts to the snow-capped region of Kashmir. I have always been in awe of this picturesque place and intrigued by its delicious cuisine that complements its cold climate and beautiful produce. The gastronomy is rich in use of mutton and poultry meats with a lot of attention to usage of spice providing natives the much needed heat from food.
Also, the Wazwan or the traditional, elaborate meal spread entailing 36-courses is the highlight of this cuisine and any epicure’s delight. The Wazas or chefs who prepare the Wazwan have recipes handed down through generations and retain their clan’s secret recipes even today to create an enormous and enchanting food spread.
The cuisine of North-west Frontier region of our Indian subcontinent has always intrigued me. This region comprises of lands stretching from Kabul, Kandahar, Peshawar to Lahore. This was the same route that the Mughal emperor Babur took to make his way into present day India although back then all these provinces fell under the jurisdiction of the Mughal Empire.
As a food blogger my intrigue for this gastronomy lies in the fact that modern day adaptations in most so-called Mughlai food eateries have their roots of kebabs, pulao, tandoor preparations stemming from this North-west Frontier cuisine. Chef Mujeebur Rehman has curated this 'CHRONICLES OF NORTH-WEST FRONTIER' food festival at Poolside restaurant at VITS Luxury Business Hotel, Mumbai. With his over two decades of experience researching and cooking this specific cuisine, he was very kind in shedding light on various aspects of North-west Frontier delicacies.
I am embracing 2017 with a lot of inspiration from Monisha Bharadwaj's latest book, The Indian Cookery Course. I was one of the privileged attendees who got to hear Ms. Bharadwaj share her acumen and passion for Indian cuisine at the Mumbai launch of this book held by Pan Macmillan India and Title Waves in association with Rushina M. Ghildiyal's APB Food Book Club.
A few minutes into the session and so enthralled was I with what the book held as culinary wisdom, that I could not wait to grab a copy for my possession. This book is Ms. Bharadwaj's 15th book exemplifying various nuances of the Indian gastronomy and in its lucid literary style is apt for even a person trying to just start his/her learning of the diverse Indian cuisine.
- Food & travel enthusiast