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Keeping the tradition alive for six generations

COOKING AWADHI and Mughlai food requires knowledge of as many as 52 spices and herbs along with loads of patience. This food is known for its flavour and excellent mix of ?masalas?. As these dishes were originally prepared for kings and nawabs, attention was paid to every minute detail to suit their palate, said Mohammed Usman Qureshi and Mohammed Imran Qureshi.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 15:20 IST

COOKING AWADHI and Mughlai food requires knowledge of as many as 52 spices and herbs along with loads of patience. This food is known for its flavour and excellent mix of ‘masalas’. As these dishes were originally prepared for kings and nawabs, attention was paid to every minute detail to suit their palate, said Mohammed Usman Qureshi and Mohammed Imran Qureshi.

The father-son duo — famous chefs from Lucknow — is in the city to create an Awadhi menu for the renovated Sanchi restaurant in Hotel Sayaji. Usman Qureshi told Hindustan Times that with his son Imran also into cooking, the Qureshi family has now completed six generations in the profession.

Usman has prepared food at the marriage of King Vikram Singh and recalls that the party during those days used to have a grand menu with items like Shikari mutton. Usman reveals that freshly hunted animals were brought in to prepare delicacies.

Imran, who is happy to join his father after 14 years on regular learning, said that perfection in cooking Mughlai food does not come easily. It took him many years to learn the 125 dishes. According to Imran, it may take him many more years to learn more than 400 dishes that his father knows to prepare.

The Qureshi family is also into ‘masala’ business and has secret proportions and methods to prepare the spices for Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine. We never disclose these secrets for cooking food to anyone outside Qureshi clan, said Usman. Even the hotels inviting them for cooking food buy spices only from them.

Speaking about ‘Mutanjan’ — the most difficult dish to be prepared — Usman remarked that it is made of meat and rice but the unique method of heating it needs patience and culinary skills. The son finds learning to cook Kakori Kabab a tough job.

These chefs specialise in cooking non-vegetarian dishes like Chicken Kohinoor, Murg Kohinoor, Ran Dumpukht and vegetarian recipes like Chouk Paratha, Rumali Roti, Bawali Handi and Malai Sinkh. The delicious desserts included by them in the Sanchi menu are Phirni, Ananas Mujafar etc.

The Lucknavi-style chef Usman said that the quantity of ghee used nowadays has decreased considerably but the spices, dry fruits and other things are used in their purest forms and in same quantities. They have made some changes in the quantity of spices used for preparing dishes in Indore. Lastly, Usman added that Nargisi Kofta is one thing every child in his clan knows to cook.

Sanchi re-launch
The restaurant Sanchi at Hotel Sayaji in Indore will be re-launched with a fresh ambience and new Dumpukht menu on Friday. Sayaji Hotel managing director Sajid Dhanani told reporters in the City on Friday that the new interior décor has been done keeping in mind the customers’ peace and quiet factor.

The restaurant will open during evening hours from 7.30 pm. Some of the authentic Awadhi dishes that will be served at Sanchi are: Ran Dumpukht, Ran Tandoori, Gooler Kebab, Majnu ke tukhney, Murgh Jehangiri, Aatish-E-Sheree, Malai Sinkh and Nargisi Paneer. There are over 100 varieties of dishes including soups, breads, vegetables, dal, desserts, rice and meat available at the restaurant.