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


Baking | Whole wheat Fresh Cherry Cocoa Brownies #comfort food #wholegrain #one bowl

“In today’s world, when many of yesterday’s fashionable habits are today’s misdemeanors, we should rejoice that a chocolate dessert can bring so much innocent pleasure.”
Marcel Desaulniers

Whole wheat Fresh Cherry Cocoa Brownies Whole wheat Fresh Cherry Cocoa Brownies … yes chocolate again, cocoa actually. Pointless apologising for my long absence again, but life is getting a little hectic. This time I am blaming it on the IFBM 2014 in Bangalore. It was the best meet of it’s kind held for food bloggers in India, and it’s now a little difficult getting back into the mold of things.

Whole wheat Fresh Cherry Cocoa Brownies Call it withdrawal symptoms if you like, but will hopefully get a long post out soon. Until then, here’s a batch of brownies I made for a boy who was having home baked stuff withdrawal symptoms yesterday. The past two days he went, “processed again?”. Of course, I was ashamed. Haven’t been at home the last week. It’s been madness, so before I stepped out to do grocery, I popped these into the oven yesterday.

Whole wheat Fresh Cherry Cocoa Brownies Picked him up off the school bus and entered a home smelling like chocolate heaven. “Yay”, he yelled! “You baked.” He happily settled down with a jug of fresh lime juice etc. The rest was …. gobble, gobble, gobble!

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Blog Event | “Cook for a smile” … with The Smile Foundation & Michelin starred celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
Charles Chaplin

Cook For A Smile with Chef Vikas KhannaThe Smile Foundation and 3-time Michelin starred celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna came together today to create a unique charity cookout – “Cook for a Smile” hosted by Hyatt Hotels in India on Sunday, July 27th, 2014, at Hyatt Regency Delhi. Funds raised from the campaign will be used to provide education and nutrition for 1,000 children for one year. Chef Vikas Khanna is associated with the Smile Foundation as a Goodwill Ambassador for its “Nutrition for Better Literacy” initiative.

Cook For A Smile with Chef Vikas KhannaDelhi’s top corporate leaders spent their Sunday busy testing their mettle at Hyatt’s cooking stations under the guidance of the MasterChef judge Vikas Khanna. The CEOs took to recreating some of their favourite recipes in support of Smile Foundation’s ‘Nutrition for Better Literacy’ initiative. Each CEO was accompanied by a child from the Smile Foundation who acted as sous – chef and helped these leaders stir up their own magic.

Cook For A Smile with Chef Vikas KhannaThe event, anchored by Chef Vikas Khanna, was a collaborative effort between Hyatt, Smile Foundation and its partners Cleo County, Western Digital, Philips Kitchen Appliances & CNBC who share the same passion for bringing underprivileged a healthier lifestyle. True to his effervescent nature, the chef  held the audience captivated by his humour and witty banter. Time just flew by …Cook For A Smile with Chef Vikas KhannaElaborating on his fondness for the initiative Chef Vikas Khanna, Goodwill Ambassador – Nutrition For Better Literacy, Smile Foundation said, “Lack of proper nutrition is a fundamental issue and one of the biggest roadblocks for the growth and development for children in our country. I Am proud to be associated with Smile Foundation as their Goodwill Ambassador for Nutrition for better literacy and I hope I am able to sensitize many more people about this issue that faces us as a developing country. Cook for Smile has been a big step in helping us reach out to stakeholders and by end of this year I pledge to benefit around 5000 kids under this initiative.”

Cook For A Smile with Chef Vikas Khanna

Smile Foundation is a national development organization working with a lifecycle approach toward children, their families and community. With a belief that education is the means as well as the end, the Foundation is reaching out to more than 300,000 underprivileged children, youth and women directly every year through 158 welfare projects on subjects such as education, healthcare, youth employability, and women empowerment across 25 states of India.

There were a million smiles that day!!

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

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