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This weekend, enjoy a royal meal along with stories of 'nawabi daawats' in MumbaiKrutika BehrawalaMar 17, 2017, 08:02 IST
Maliha Khan. Pic courtesy/basahaestate.in
Though we're chatting over the telephone, we can imagine the twinkle in Maliha Khan's eyes as the 36-year-old Goregaon resident recalls the royal parties she witnessed as a child at her ancestral palace in Lucknow. The daawats were hosted by her father, Amir Naqi Khan, Rajkumar of Mahmoodabad — Basaha Estate, and a connoisseur of Mughal cuisine.
Maliha Khan's grandfather Maharajkumar Mahmood Hasan Khan of Mahmoodabad with Indira Gandhi in late 1983.
Every weekend, the Deewan Khana (drawing room) would be buzzing with over 50 guests. These included political heavyweights considering her grandfather, Mahmood Hasan Khan was a Congressman, who contributed to the party's success in UP from the first elections in 1952. While they would relish Lakhnavi Korma, Biryani and Seviyan Ka Muzzafar, a rich and creamy vermicelli and cardamom-laced dessert — all cooked under her father's strict supervision — the guests would also get to try Hyderabadi fare, courtesy Maliha's mother, Kulsum Begum, the niece of Salar Jung III, who is a celebrity chef specialising in Hyderabadi cuisine with the ITC group of hotels, for over 16 years now. This Sunday, Maliha will whip up a medley of Lakhnavi and Hyderabadi fare at her debut lunch pop-up, presented by Indian Food Trail, a platform connecting foodies with home chefs.
Gosht Makhana Kurma. Pic/Satej Shinde
A tale of two cities
Titled Nawabi Daawat, the pop-up features over eight dishes, including Seviyan Ka Muzzafar and Gosht Makhana Kurma, where mutton chunks are cooked in Lakhnavi-style gravy and garnished with puffed lotus seeds. "My father is in possession of many royal Lakhnavi recipes passed down via generations and he wouldn't share them with anyone. Even I had to coax him to share a few with me," laughs Maliha, whose tryst with cooking began at the age of eight, when she dished out Crispy Aloos at a house party. "It was a simple dish but the guests loved it. I was so happy to know that at least cooking was in my blood."
Maliha has learnt Hyderabadi recipes from her mother, who began experimenting with the cuisine only after the birth of her three children (Maliha is the middle child). "When she got married, she was not allowed to enter the royal kitchens because cooks would do the job. Later, she began experimenting with dishes for the parties. The Hyderabadi recipes were passed on to her by my maternal grandmother," shares Maliha, a Mass Communications graduate from Delhi, who shifted to Mumbai in 2008, after marrying fashion photographer-cum-DOP Ovais Khan.
Murgh Mirchi Ka Salan and Murgh Biryani. Pic/Satej Shinde
Having grown up on a mix of Lakhnavi and Hyderabadi fare — her favourites include Hyderabadi Murgh Biryani and Tomato Chicken, a typical recipe from the region featuring equal amounts of both ingredients slow-cooked with ginger and garlic — Maliha can easily spot the differences between the two royal cuisines. "Hyderabadi cuisine features a certain tanginess since the marination is done either using lime or curd. Meanwhile, marination in most Lakhnavi dishes is with raw papaya. They are also spicier and use more of zaffran (saffron), kevda (an extract distilled from the pandanus flower) and dry fruit. A lot of Lakhnavi fare is also slow-cooked on dum because back in the day, most of the dishes would be cooked underground," shares Maliha, adding that her food also has a Baghdadi influence since her paternal family is descendant of Nazr Ullah, the chief Qazi of the Caliph of Baghdad, who came to India as an ambassador in the 12th century.
ON: March 19, 1 pm to 3 pm
AT: Goregaon (E).
LOG ON TO: Indian Food Trail on Facebook
COST: Rs 1,500
Rajkumar Mohd Amir Naqi Khan with his wife Kunwar Rani Kulsum Begum, clicked in 1976
What's on the menu?
Murgh Badami Shorba: A fragrant soup with slow-cooked chicken, thickened using almond pieces.
Murgh Pasanda Kebabs: Thin and pounded slices of chicken breast marinated Hyderabadi-style with coriander, mint and green chilli paste, and grilled.
Lauz Kebab: Hyderabadi-style marinated mutton mince, shaped like diamonds and baked.
Gosht Makhana Kurma: Curried mutton chunks cooked in Lakhnavi-style kurma gravy, garnished with fried puffed lotus seeds.
Murgh Mirchi Ka Salan: Chicken cooked in a tangy, nut-based gravy garnished with chillies.
Murgh Biryani: A Hyderabadi-style dum (slow-cooked) biryani featuring chicken pieces marinated overnight
Kaddu Ka Dalcha: Bottle gourd cooked with Bengal gram, whole spices and mutton chaap. “There's no pumpkin in the dish. In Lucknow, even bottle gourd is called kaddu,” shares Maliha.
Seviyan Ka Muzzafar: Roasted vermicelli cooked with nuts and whole milk, flavoured with cardamom.
Khubani Ka Meetha: Apricot cooked in sugar syrup and served with home-made custard.