Monday, March 9, 2015

Revival of Lost Recipes

And, post celebrating International Women's Day, and India's most colourful festival, Holi, we are back to work once again... For women, it's needless to say that every single day is women's day, and all celebrations and fun sure involve something that they enjoy doing. Be it travel that we enjoyed this weekend, or some yum cooking, which the woman we are featuring enjoys even at this age!
Nazish Jalali, the Women Who Never 
Dreamt of  Taking  Home-cooking, 

Take a look...

Imagine a luxe hotel like The Oberoi Gurgaon, a fine dine place in the hotel like ThreeSixtyOne, and a cuisine fest called "Rivaayat-E-Rampur"! In a go, this combination sounds so not usual. A notorious place like Rampur (U.P.), which has been in news for all the wrong reasons, who could have believed that the city has a beautiful legacy of some lip-smacking cuisine, known as Rampuri cuisine, also known as Courtly cuisine.
 Seems like that's one of the reasons why The Oberoi Group has launched Rivaayat, a conclave dedicated to the revival of the lost recipes of Indian culinary world, and the first one has started with Rampur. And why not? The group had a woman like Nazish Jalali, who hails from this belt, settled in the capital now, and still has managed to continue the cuisine and the home-learnt recipes for last 50 years, and has now happily shared her knowledge with the professional kitchen of this beautiful hotel.

A Sophisticated Version of Dhai Bade!

Shammi Kabab & Kathal ki shammi
Aloo Palak ki Pakodiyan

This Was Not My Dream

So, we visited ThreeSixtyOne last week, when Rivaayat was on (concluded this 5th) over a casual luncheon, rather trial of the not-so-common recipes. It was a sheer pleasure meeting Nazish Jalali. For a simple reason, we were not meeting a professional chef, nor an entrepreneur, who aspired to be where she is. Ms. Jalali is a woman with whom many of us will feel an instant connect. A woman for whom her family is her world, for whom taking her hobby of cooking which in many ways is also a duty, to such heights was never an agenda for so many years. But, it was just a passion, a day-today interest, and her son's professional arena (Osama Jalali, a professional food critic) that made her venture in this domain. " I've always been a housewife. But because my late husband who was a eminent Unani doctor, and had some chef patients of some well-known hotels then, I used to discuss some recipes, or they used to send some interesting dishes to our place on occasions. It all started then, but still it was very much a hobby thing. Though, today it still remains the same, as sharing my family recipes, or taking the candid recipes of my city Rampur was never my dream, but it was all because of my son who helped me shed this reluctance,"said NJ casually while we were lost trying the beautiful and tasty portions of Dahi Bade, Shammi Kabab, Kathal ki Shammi, and later some Aloo Palak ki Pakodiyan. 
The names may sound familiar, but you need to believe this that the taste was so unlike a hotel recipe, with some modern garnishing. Rather, everything felt so homely and yet so aesthetically done...

Beautiful Silverware From the House of Jalalis...
She later continued, " The cuisine from my land is primarily a mix of Awadhi, Afghani, Mughlai, and to some extent Rajputi too. Yes, the cuisine is on a heavier side, if you compare it with other cuisines of India, particularly south, but then that's the beauty of it. Women may have become health conscious today, but then Rampur recipes are cooked in desi ghee, which is a better option than the regular oils," she paused,

Tasting Portions of Laute Paloute, Kareley ki Chidiya, 
& Many More...
while the server was setting the tasting portions of the main course, which included Laute Paloute, Kareley ki Chidiya, Moong Dal delicacy and a couple of more (the names so hard to remember)

Glimpse of the Desserts Served
All looked amazingly beautiful instantly, and it was hard to decide which one to try first, that's when NJ told us that some of the dishes are loved by women a lot, like the moong dal one, which is light and healthy...

But, we were curious to try Kareley ki Chidiya, which has so much fun in the name itself. "Yeah, it looks like a bird and so the name. But then you see, that's what home-grown recipes are all about. I learnt all this from my mother, and she from hers and so on. How else could I have managed to keep them intact even after 50 years. And see, now even the hotels like The Oberoi are interested in preserving such delicacies,"she summed.

Well, no wonder! During the discussion we were told that Rampur cuisine has some lovely women-friendly ingredients like sandalwood, vetiver root, or even lotus seeds. They taste good and have certain health benefits as well. Additional, the cuisine has some famous dishes like Taar Qorma, Hari Mirch Ka Keema, Saag Kofta just to name a few.
Aloo ka Zarda, 
a Dessert we Relished Like Never Before!
But if you thought that the main course kept us busy all through out, then take a look at the pictures of these desserts...

Aloo ka Zarda, a dessert that belongs only to Jalalis, a family dessert that has been passed from one generation to the other, and now to ThreeSixtyOne, is a must-try. Potatoes can be served in such a beautiful way is what makes you feel surprised about it. The other one, which was phirni, is certainly not kheer, and so in on a sweeter side, and sure heavy on your tummy.

But then who thinks of calories when the cuisine is offered with so much love, and takes you back to your mum's kitchen where it's the love and care that works wonders on food, and recipes get revived... just like that!

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