June 25, 2014

The taste of Royal cuisine with Chef Imtiaz Qureshi at ITC Sonar, Kolkata

 My impatient soul was feeling like tapping the table to settle down the heart beat and let the rhythm soothe the soul till the exact moment jingles. Being a food addict from my childhood the Chefs are like the Food Gods to me. As much I read about them, I watch them on TV, I get so much inspired to follow their footsteps and to create some magic in my kitchen. And when one gets an opportunity to meet some iconic figure whom you have just thought to meet in your dreams, does life want anything more!!! An invitation to the Kolkata Food Bloggers from ITC Sonar to meet the legendary Chef Imtiaz Qureshi and witness his magical culinary journey with his creations made a dream come true.  I have heard so much about him. The iconic grand master who can transform a veg kabab to taste like a meat, who has magic in his hand, the king of Dum Pukht cuisine and a legend that carries all the anecdotes right from the Mughals' Royal darbar to the recent days. He cooks and weaves stories with each of his creations...He creates royal dishes and spiced it up with the royal lore. 

Then he entered in the double breasted chef's suit, neatly combed silvery lines streaming down with ignorable curls. A heart melting smile was continuously peeping from the masculine aged mustache and a fashionably done beard. He was joined shortly by Chef Zuber Qureshi  and the moment stopped there and took us back to the Nawab’s darbaari kitchen from where his journey with the Dum Pukht cuisine started. In his chaste
Luckhnawi urdu he continued that 'Dum' means 'to breathe in' and 'Pukht' means 'to cook'. The main Dum Pukht cuisine defines as cooking a dish in a clean kitchen where in a deep bottom vessel the dish will be cooked while choking all the steam inside and its own aroma will spice up the whole taste. He kept on picking up each dish from the menu and went on explaining how it got cooked with the anecdotes behind each dish. One such anecdote: “In Arab there was once no water. So people survived only on Dates. And from there I got the idea to use date in my dishes. I used dates in Raan-e-huzoor which nobody can think.”   He also explained that people has become more prone towards healthy and nutritious food;so keeping in mind the modern scenario all the dishes were cooked with very less oil and ghee. And we all became surprised to hear that the Biriyani was cooked with Olive oil. When it comes to meat, there are almost 50 types of different kind of cuts for each meat dish and at the same time the taste depends on choosing the fresh soft meat. We also came to know the sectect about the melt in mouth meat flesh is nothing but slow cooking for at least 7-8 long hours. The food went on filling our plates and the legendary father like man in his 80s kept on moving table to table asking about the dishes and did we figure out what ingredients he had used. He also added that Usage of Sea food is very rare in Mughlai cuisine but he has added since keeping in mind the choices of the present taste buds.

Soon after we were joined by the whiskey connoisseur Mr Sandeep Arora who educated us that whiskey could be very well get paired with food. He talked about the famous brand of scotch whiskey Royal Salute 21YO which is 21 years old. He called it ‘Royal Challenge’ as it is a marriage between royal cuisine and royal whiskey.

Let us now have some glimpses on royal dishes crafted in the menu:

My take of the day were- Raan-e-huzoor, Jhinga Qureshi, Dudhiya Biryani and Desi murgh ishtew.
Raan- e- huzoor: Baby Lamb Legs cooked on the dum with a thick Date sauce, embellished with walnut and almonds.
Jhinga Qureshi: Named after the legnedary Chef it is a puff pastry covered Jumbo Prawn, stuffed with dried apricot and cheese.

Samundari Ratan: Soft Marbles of fresh crabmeat, simmered in a delicate fenugreek flavoured gravy. 
Koh- E- Avadh: Chef's recipe of qorma of elegantly exposed lamb shanks, dum cooked in their own cardamom tinged juices and marrow, finished with saffron
Desi Murgh ishtew is also served under this head. This ishtew is totally difffernt what we ussually make at home. Country chicken braised over slow burning fire, with onions, black pepper, yoghurt and other spices.
Dal Badami was served too..

Naan-e Bah Khummach, Mugtha Paratha and Roomali Roti was served to relish with the qormas.

Dudhiya Biryani: tender lamb morsels, cooked on Dun with Aromatic Basmati rice. To enhance the taste and to keep it healthy Milk and Olive oil are used.
Sahi Tukda (a dessert of saffrom rabri, spread on a slice of syrup soaked homemade bread) and Lab-e Mashooq (Frozen dessert of reduced milk scented with orange)
And last but not the least the Sahi Paan was served to draw an ending line to the royal treat.
Apart from all the Non-veg dishes a royal Veg spread is also available on the menu.

The Signature Collection can be enjoyed at the Eden Pavilion from 22nd June to 30th June as a part of the dinner buffet (7.30-11.45 pm) at INR 1850 plus taxes.

And a set menu of five courses paired with Roysl Salute, one can go for Royal Repast at Dum Pukht that is only available for dinner from 22nd June onwards at the price of INR 6500 plus tax.
For more photographs please visit HERE.

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