Food feature | RIVAAYAT … A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon, & a Murgh Hara Pyaz recipe from Chef Izzat Hussain

“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon 600Food is the greatest healer, the greatest giver of comfort, and offers the best form of nostalgia to the culinary senses. It climbs up a few notches higher when it enters the royal kitchen. Imagine next, an intriguing combination of medicine and food. ‘Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave’ an initiative by The Oberoi Group made this possible with Izzat Hussain @ Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon.Rivaayat“Food is Medicine” is a term which was originally coined by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine. It was his belief that eating wholesome food is the basis for good health, and it is this belief that forms the foundation of {Dr} Chef Izzat Hussain’s food philosophy. The uniqueness he brings to the table is how he seamlessly weaves Unani medicine and research of ingredients into his repertoire of royal Awadhi recipes. ‘Rivaayat – The Indian Culinary Conclave’ As part of this unique culinary initiative of The Oberoi group, I had the pleasure of experiencing a finely created meal at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon. The fine dining Indian speciality restaurant has celebrated Chef Izzat Husain unveil secret recipes at Saffron. Rivaayat invites you to experience the magnificence of the royal kitchens of Awadh as he recreates treasured Indian classics like the Kakori Kebab, Gosht Yakhni Pulao, Zafrani Nehari and Baqakhani

Izzat Husain is known for taking Awadhi cuisine across the globe. He is a food enthusiast, working hard for several years to search and revive authentic recipes of Mughlai, Awadhi & Lakhnawi cuisine. He has learnt the cooking techniques and procedures from old cooks, house wives and foodies of royal families. Few of his specialities are Murgh Mewazad, Karhai Ghosht and Kebab Makhmali.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon With the ever so sweet Mallika {Manager Comm, The Oberoi, Gurgaon} and Executive Chef Sandeep keeping me good company at aesthetic and beautiful Saffron, I set off on this delicious journey. The starters {or fillers as I call them} were specially good, and for me a meal in themselves. I loved the Gosht Parchay, the Chicken Tikka which were vastly different from any I’ve had before; a melt in the mouth goodness about with addictive flavours. The Galouti Kebab on the little ulte tawa ka paratha was a winner too. The 2 chutneys accompanying the starters were amazing. An Olive Green Chutney {fresh coriander and olive oil} and a Thoom Chutney {emulsified raw garlic chutney} both fresh, bursting with flavour, robust and earthy. Chef Izzat Hussain doesn’t believe in using water in his cuisine. The chutneys had a base of oil, and his curries are cooked in milk!

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Time for the main course which arrived in gleaming katoris, little bowls of wonder. Lots of them. The menu is vast, and very interestingly offers a huge selection for both vegetarian and non vegetarian options. By this time the gentle Chef Izzat had joined us at the table. His belief is that milk or dairy cuts the acidity of the meat, thereby allowing easier digestion. I loved his signature Malai Boti Kebab which just melted away into oblivion. Also the Murgh Begum Pasanda, and a Mahi Korma, royal treatment all the way. I liked the way every little katori {bowl}  held its own ground with stand out flavours and spice blends.

Izzat ki roti, Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, GurgaonWhat took my tastebuds to happiness was the Paneer Chukandar. I loved the way the chef brought this pairing together. So creative! The Sabut Moong with saffron was comforting, though cooked with cream, so a little heavy. Next the veg Shahi Korma, pillowy soft vegetable koftas wrapped in a luscious gravy. That tomatoes were not part of the ingredients was something quite enjoyable. This is what I like about Awadhi cuisine….caramelized onions and dairy that bring about beautiful red hues to the dish.{The camera had been done away with by now}. On the side were breads … Sheermal, Gullafi Kulcha and Izzat ki roti. The Izzat ki Roti was by far the best. A multigrain, crisp flatbread that was addictive good, one that you could nibble away at all day long! The name of course comes from the creator …Chef Izzat Hussain. The chef said that this special roti is now very famous across Lucknow.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Did I mention the Buraani Raita? Yum! Found it’s place on the platter alright! Oh yes, and there were 3 biryanis/pulaos that followed. A good to the last grain Kaju Biryani, and a couple of others – Gosht Tursh Pulao, and a Chicken Biryani which I could not try. Alas! Too full. Some Awadhi murrabba might have worked digestive magic here…. was I stuffed! That the meal was royal was obvious. ’twas heavy food I tell you.

Rivaayat - A Royal Indian Experience at Saffron, Trident, Gurgaon Dessert was delightful as dessert should be. Despite obviously being stuffed to the gills, the array of desserts tempted. I sampled the Chhena Kheer, Taar Halwa and Shahi Tukda. The Shahi Tukda was my absolute favourite … a full bodied Stollen like bread with raisins and saffron formed the base. I have to say all 3 desserts were excellent. Not cloyingly sweet as a halwa or kheer can threaten to be. They were just right for me, with Exec Chef Sandeep letting me on Izzat Hussain’s secret. A dash of lime juice will always cut away the feeling of dessert being exceedingly sweet! Nice tip!
 I also came away with a box of the most yum fudge chocolaty cookies, a gift from Exec Chef Sandeep!

Trident, Gurgaon is presenting its Rivaayat, a celebration of the Indian Royal experience at its award winning Indian cuisine restaurant – Saffron between 19th January and 25th January 2015.

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Lucknawi cuisineAwadhi cuisine hails from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. This cuisine consists of elaborate dishes such as kebabs, kormas, biryanis, kaliyas, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadhi cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, dry fruits and rich spices like cardamom and saffron.Lucknow mainThe Lucknawi cuisine I have had in the past has been vastly different. Lighter on spices and milder to taste, obviously the food I’ve had in the past wasn’t this royal!! With my mother belonging to Lucknow, it is a city and cuisine which I enjoy a lot. I did ask for a simple, quick flavourful everyday recipe from Izzat Hussain’s vast repertoire. Here it is, a Murgh Hara Pyaz {Chicken with Spring Onions}, and as the tagline goes …  absolutely fresh, delicious and healthy!Hara Pyaaz Murgh It’s a light, summery, quick, fresh dish. I added a dash of cream towards the end to make it a ‘winter comfort food dish’, more lime juice, green garlic and onion scapes and loads of fresh coriander to make it ‘wintery’. It was really good with fresh lachcha parathas!

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Restaurant Review | SodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market …. a second branch of the quirky Irani Cafe, this time in Delhi #parsicuisine #SBOW

“The belly rules the mind.”
Spanish Proverb

SBOW Khan MarketSodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market. It was just going to be a matter of time. When AD Singh opened the now almost iconic SodaBottleOpenerWala in Gurgaon it made waves across the NCR. Soon there were groans from folk across Delhi, pleading for a branch in their part of town. With many iconic Irani cafés, a quintessential experience of a near extinct culture and cuisine, downing shutters of late in Mumbai, one might have wondered why Delhi would even consider a rebirth here. Then again, this is AD Singh & Olive …he got it spot on! Again.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon You know I loved the first SBOW that opened closer to home in Gurgaon. I never stopped talking about it. Recently we heard whoops of joy from the Dilliwalahs. A Bawaji joint was opening in the heart of Delhi, and they were loving it! What better location for an iconic Delhi Parsi Cafe than the iconic Khan Market, vibrant and bustling. Tucked away in the heart of Khan market, Olive pays tribute to the dying legacy of the Irani café … bringing it to life in style!

SBOW KhanSBOW at Khan is located on the first and second floor off a long winding food lane, very old world charm. Quite unlike the Cybercity venue which is very retro, French cafe street feel on the outdoors, set amidst new architecture. The feel within is the same … chaotic, crowded, bustling, colourful, quirky, eccentric and real world Irani café. Up the steep stairs in Khan Market and you are once again ushered into a different world. Framed pictures in sepia and black and white from generations of Parsis unknown, actual antiques, quirky quaint mirrors, quotes so reflective of this small tight knit community. Barni glass jars, tiffin carriers, taxi meters, cuckoo clocks, tin boxes…paraphernalia galore, it’ a feast for the eyes!

SBOW Khan Market

Photo Courtesy Lavina Kharkwal

It was a cozy small get together at the launch … food enthusiasts from across the NCR, AD Singh in gentle attendance, drinks and food flowing non stop. Such a fun opening menu brought together by an ace team , drinks did the rounds with the heady Bawaji Nu Thullu and Raspberry Soda amongst the most popular, with the Shikanjiben following a close second. It was time to abandon the camera and nonsensical light headed banter took over!

SBOW KhanWith drinks can food be far behind? The menu sees several new additions and make overs from the first branch. My absolute favorites in starters were Mushroom on Khari, Breach Candy Awesome Okra, Tareli Macchi, Chicken Baida Roti. The egg lovers didn’t stop ranting about the Dukkar Galli John’s Famous Egg Sandwich, and couldn’t tear themselves away from it either. Everyone ate lots. LOTS!

Berry Pulao, Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, GurgaonSoon came main course. Main course? I was stuffed already but one look at the Berry Pulao, a lamb berry pulao at that had everyone grabbing forks again. It is the best offering from SBOW and one not to be missed. It’s a must try on their vast and intriguing menu. Add some Bhendi Bazaar Sheekh Paratha and Kolmi Fry and this gastronomic Parsi journey is even happier. Did I mention the sweetest and funniest young stand up comedian Danesh Irani? That too. He had the captivated audience roaring with laughter with ‘The Last Parsi’ written by Meherzad Patel.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon

SBOW Khan 5Dessert anyone? I groaned as I was ready to burst but can you keep the fingers away from the delicious to the last crumb 5 Star Brownie? Not possible at all. Also impossible to resist is the Toblerone Mousse which is smooth, silky, indulgent … divine. Glass scraping good stuff. Another very interesting dessert addition is the Bun Maska Jam. Pillowy soft white buns smothered with butter and jam send you right back into a nostalgic journey into the past. Yes they’ve got it spot on. Again! SBOW KhanSoda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon It’s a celebration of a cuisine that faced possible extinction and exposure to a community which is very small and largely unknown for it’s cuisine in North India. Ad Singh with his wonderfully talented team has given Delhi a memorable foodie destination, not once, but twice over! Kudos to the team behind this legacy … very talented and quite unassuming Mohit Balachandran from the food blog Chowder Singh who’s been active with Olive for several years, Head Chef Kulbeer, Cuisine authenticator and Parsi Chef Manager Anahita Dhody

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Food Festival Review | Dehlvi cuisine @ The Oberoi, Gurgaon … celebrating the flavours of India #India #independenceday

“Delhi is the twin of pure paradise, a prototype of the heavenly throne on an earthly scroll”
Amir Khusrau

Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, GurgaonHappy 68th Independence Day India. I’m reliving it with memories of the soul stirring and nostalgic meal at threesixtyone°, The Oberoi, Gurgaon. That we ate till we literally dropped, was bound to happen. It’s not often you get to taste a well researched authentic finger licking good spread of Dehlvi cuisine. The ever gracious Mallika, Manager Communications, invited a handful of us to experience this rare curated spread from a city that belongs to us.

North India, Old DelhiDehlvi cuisine {pertaining to the Delhi region} as the name suggests is an evolutionary melange of the cuisine of the Mughals, Rajputs, Punjabis, Marwaris, Kayasthas and Vaishyas blended by the centuries. As the British empire moved it’s capital from Bengal to Delhi, it brought with it a potpourri of folk to run the administration. As Delhi became the  hub of political, social and commercial activity, people from different communities found livelihood here. With them came interesting and unique culinary influences.Old Delhi, Purani DilliAfter all, food is the ultimate comfort and each region and community contributed their little bit. What evolved over the ages was a very interesting platter. Aromas that were unique and rare, flavours that seemed improbable. Where else would you find the tropical guava in a curried savoury version. That was indeed a highlight of the meal, Amrut sabzi. Yes, we had seconds too.

Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon This season, threesixtyone° pays tribute to the flavours inspired by old Delhi. The menu includes delicacies that have been researched from over centuries in a medley celebrated as ‘Delhi 6′, all curated by Chef Dirham Haque, our Indian masterchef. Dehlvi cuisine is flavoured by treasured spices that enhance and distinguish the flavours of one community from another.

Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon Talking to the very sweet Chef Dirham, who obligingly kept us company through the meal, the meal took on nostalgic flavours. He spoke with passion about the origin of every dish, his trips into Old Delhi to get to the root of the origins, his search for rare forgotten ingredients, and the connect he made with the different communities. This brought new light to the meal, a celebration of culinary history.

The uniqueness of Dehlvi cuisine lies in its fascinating mix of traditions, geography, culture and community influences that have partaken to lend their own intrinsic stamp: The Mughals after their many invasions, the hardy Punjabis after Indian partition and settlement, the Kayasthas and their peppery flavours, the Vaishyas and the Marwaris with their rugged aromas. The myriad blend of spices, aromatic infusions, base ingredients and staples juxtapose with earthy relish in the vast array that’s Dehlvi cuisine.

Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon For the table, which had a mix of us from different communities and food backgrounds, it was non stop banter. Put seven excited ladies on a table with celebrated chefs, good food and culinary history, and you will be assured of a noisy corner! The beautiful threesixtyone° at The Oberoi is well lit, surrounded by a body of water, was somewhat noisy that afternoon!

Khari Baoli, Old DelhiThat it was popular was obvious. There were folk constantly walking in to savour the delicacies, maybe to connect to a cuisine somewhat forgotten. For locals, it’s a nostalgic connect as the flavours of Old Delhi charm you, an environment that is as colourful as it is captivating. As you can see from my photographs, I go to Old Delhi  often.Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon We began with Mufarra, a royal version of the ordinary sherbet, a drink of Delhi’s aristocrats or Farmaishi Khwan of Shajahanbada {Mughals}. It was quite sweet. Then it grew on you. Saffron, rose, mica, sandalwood I think … it had all the trappings of royalty!

Dahi gujjia, Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, GurgaonThe first course offered a window into Saadgi Khwaan or comfort food as well. Dahi ki gujjia with a special chaat masala, sprinkled over with the quintessential pomegranate pearls and chutneys. From here onwards, it was a journey through the streets of Old Delhi which took us from the mansions of the rich to ordinary everyday street food, from Farmaishi Khwaan to Sadgi Khwan. A well curated meal, stellar company and never a dull moment.Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, GurgaonThe starters had a selection of flavours from Delhi’s different communities. Gilawat ke kebab, Silbatte ki shammi, Tandoori tangri, Gosht methi doka, Teekhe matar ke kebab each of them were uniquely spiced. The Gilaawat got my vote, with the Gosht methi doka and Shammi not far behind; something for everyone’s pallet!

Mains, Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon Then on began the never ending mains, an exciting medley of flavours. Dehllika mussalum, tender baby chicken filled with forcemeat napped in a golden rich nutty gravy, Thande masale ki machli, Bharwan Karela, Kunni Dal, Dhlvi Nalli Nihari, Amrut Sabzi, Paneer Lavang Latika, Bharwaan Tindora Keema … and so much more. Recipes taken from old homes in Babar Lane, cooks of Mathur households, delicacies of the  Vaishyacommunity, specialties of old Punjabi households… we dived into them all. Deliciously!

Dahi gujjia, Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon 9My favourites here were the Amrut sabzi {can guava ever be so charming in a curry?}, Nihari {beautifully cooked, served with all the trappings}, Kunni dal and the Bharwan Tindora Keema. Oh and the Bharwaan Karela too {despite not being a fan of the bitter gourd, this was finger licking good!}Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon On the side arrived a selection of parathas inspired by the famous parathas of Pandit Dayachand Shivcharan of Daiba Kalan – mattar , aloo anaardaana, gobhi aur adkrak. Also on the side, a Mirch nimona saada pullao, Sarai ki biryani and interestingly Naan e bakumach. So much goodness that we were thoroughly spoilt.

Meetha, Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, GurgaonThe cherry on the cake had to be the dessert or Meetha. The cup of nostalgia overflowed. How could each of us not connect to the Royal Fruit Cup! Taking us back to the good old days of tinned fruit, a moussey custard whipped cream, reduced milk or rabdi.

Royal Fruit Cup, Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, GurgaonIt was magic in a cup, a recipe that Chef Haque said possibly took him the longest to get right. It was well worth the effort and worth every spoonful! Then arrived the show stopper. An old fashioned hand churned ice cream maker, wooden trappings and all. Gently and royally wheeled to our table, we were served the most creamy delicious hand churned mango ice cream, just like we enjoyed as kids.Oh yes, the royal meetha also included a very Bollywood inspired Kulfi khaas madhubala Dehlvi. a great end to a sumptuous meal.Dabba Ice Cream, Dehlvi Cuisine Festival at threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon

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