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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Event | Food Styling Workshop at Indian Food Bloggers Meet, Bangalore 2014 – ‘food-o-graphy’

… where food tells your story!

THEMEDo moods, colours, stories, ingredients, seasons, connects, props and everything in between paint your daily canvas?  They do for me, an obsessed baker and cook, a ‘locavore’ by design, who enjoys getting food to the table with seasonal ingredients and local produce. Phalsa ka Sharbat Give me an ingredient, offer me an idea … that’s enough for the magic to begin! Thoughts flow, the lens focuses and I begin to dream!

Phalsa ka SharbatWriting my food blog since Aug 2007 made me move from just baking, to baking and taking pictures. Then came the abundant inspiration from the magical internet. Styling the food for the lens became second nature; stuff my dreams are made up of.Amaranth Oat Walnut Ginger Cookies I want to tell my story, and most of the time it is through pictures with some words to tie the post together! I am seldom lost for inspiration as seasons, colours, ingredients, people all inspire me. When I hit a road block, you will probably find me at Pinterest.

Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta I devour cookbooks for meals. I am fascinated as I turn pages of my favourite authors … Ottolenghi, Donna Hay to name a couple. They inspire me. I dream food, FOOD in pictures actually. Vibrant, rich, colourful, moody, picturesque … then wake up with thoughts of how to capture my dreams.Coffee Shortbread Cookies I am also an obessive prop collector, hardly a secret from those who know me. I’ve been one for years, even before I began food styling. Vintage and rustic props make my DNA! So when Aparna asked if I might be interested in doing a Food Styling workshop at the IFBM in August, I said YES PLEASE!

Hazelnuts and kumquatsFood styling is something I love, and something I find engaging. The good thing…the more you see, the more you share, the more you learn. Creativity is very individual, and for me, it exposes a part of me in every frame. Moody more often than never, I sometimes step across to the lighter side too … whatever tells my story!

Roasted bell peppersHomemade evaporated milk for Tres LechesSo hope to see you at the Indian Food Bloggers Meet at Bangalore for a little ‘ food-o-graphy

Summary of the Food Styling Workshop – Every food story is unique, rich and worth a share. Through the lens, I’m here to discuss how to capture the story behind your food. Connecting the ‘dots’ or rather crumbs, let’s try and see how we can slowly develop our trademark style!'food-o-graphy' by Deeba Rajpal. A Food Styling workshop at the Indian Food Bloggers Meet 2014

Will discuss basic planning, building a frame, setting the mood, using props to tell your story.

PAB food stylingHope to see you there! Would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, thinks you might like included etc. Look forward to catching up with you!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Book Review | Vicky Goes Veg … green, fresh and exciting – and a copy to giveaway

‘Going green has never been so deliciously exciting. Bon Apetit…’
Farhan Akhtar

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes VegRoasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad from Vicky Goes Veg. Everything about the book is colourful, fresh, exciting, full of flavour and vegetarian of course! It’s an exciting new book by Chef Vicky Ratnani and holds a LOT of promise. Vegetarianism is no longer considered ‘second food. Slowly but surely vegetarian centric cookbooks are appearing on bookshelves, grabbing eyeballs as they do so!Vicky Goes Veg @ The Palms, GurgaonWe were hosted by Harper Collins & Nachiketa at the lush and beautiful ‘The Palms‘, Gurgaon for the book launch. Vicky Ratnani has infectious energy, is animated and absolutely passionate about food. I was fortunate to meet him in Jan last year at a tea & food pairing session, and it certainly was a pleasure to meet him again.Vicky Goes Veg, The Palms,.Gurgaon

Vicky Goes Veg He held fort by the poolside under the blazing setting sun, which shouldn’t have been quite so blazing in Mid March … but was! Sporting that he is, he didn’t blink an eyelid, no complaints nothing. He was there well before the guests began to arrive and after a short delay {thanks to the TV crew}, he fired up!

Eggplant & Bok Choy in Sambal, Vicky Goes VegSauteing, chatting, sharing tips and trivia and a load of his passion, he held the attention of the select audience. As he stirred up magic, we were served the same from the kitchen alongside. The flavours blew us away! Who wants to eat non vegetarian food if vegetarian food can be so exciting. Not me!! The Braised Plantain with Thai spices was out of the world good, as was the Eggplant & Bok choy in sambal.

Local produceI love the energy throughout the book. It entices you to ‘try’ something different. I also love that Vicky has stuck to the concept of  sourcing local produce, something that makes the locavore in me do a merry dance. The photographs that liberally colour the pages are a journey of the food chain in India including the merchants and the local bazaars.

Carrots,beets, home grown 2Vicky is often seen arm in arm with the guys who matter … yes, those who grow, deliver and sell local produce. It’s refreshing to see so much space dedicated to the local sabziwala i.e. vegetable vendors. The recipes in the book are unique, hail from across the world but come with an Indian twist, all green and fresh!

Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes Veg The good thing is that Vicky encourages you to think out of the box, constantly innovate and evolve. He offers his book as a stepping stone for new ideas in vegetarian cooking, and tells you to be fearless. If you don’t have this, use that. There’s plenty of trivia tucked within that makes the book even more interesting. One downside is that the number of portions or ‘servings’ aren’t specified.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad, Vicky Goes Veg So I set off to make the Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Broccoli Salad.  Of course, my heart followed his advice and my recipe meandered off as I was short on time. I didn’t blend the dressing, only whisked it. Substituted apricots for walnuts, simplified the dressing a bit. I also made Stromboli from the book which disappeared too quick!

If you’d like to win a copy of the book, VICKY GOES VEG, please leave a comment below telling me which your favourite vegetarian dish from across the globe is. Please be sure to leave a valid email address so I can contact you. This giveaway is open to residents of India, or anyone with an Indian mailing address. {Giveaway sponsored by Harper Collins}

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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