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Qureshi?s ?Awadhi taste? for celebs

When Anil Kapoor met Ishtiyaque Qureshi, a day after the gala wedding reception of Aamir Khan at Panchgani, he had just one request to make. ?Could I have the leftovers please?? Anil Kapoor had asked. Qureshi was only too happy to oblige. He served him ?Bhuni raan and kundan kaliyan? and the renowned film star went back licking his fingers.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 00:21 IST

When Anil Kapoor met Ishtiyaque Qureshi, a day after the gala wedding reception of Aamir Khan at Panchgani, he had just one request to make.

“Could I have the leftovers please?” Anil Kapoor had asked. Qureshi was only too happy to oblige. He served him “Bhuni raan and kundan kaliyan” and the renowned film star went back licking his fingers.

Having attended Aamir’s reception—an all Awadhi fare with Lucknow’s Ishtiyaque Qureshi in-charge of Aamir’s kitchen for the day—Anil had tasted Qureshi’s culinary delights. So, he couldn’t resist the desire to come back and have more.

And mind you, Anil wasn’t the only celebrity floored by Qureshi’s food. For Sachin Tendulkar too met Qureshi and had words of praise for the “great preparations”. In fact, Tendulkar and his wife were particularly impressed by the ‘Shahi Tukda’.

As did so many others like Rishi Kapoor who got Qureshi for the lavish spread at his daughter Ridhima’s wedding in January. Hrithik Roshan’s wedding reception, Karisma Kapoor’s wedding, Rajeev Kapoor’s wedding… Qureshi has been there.

What bowled the celebrities attending the wedding of Aamir Khan as well as that of Rishi Kapoor’s daughter was the great ‘Awadhi taste’ that Qureshi had packed in the mouth watering fare there.

But though Qureshi’s (his father Imtiyaz Qureshi has served the Presidents and the Prime Ministers besides countless international celebs like Bill Clinton and Bill Gates) have made Awadhi food popular all over, Ishtiyaque Qureshi, who too has served people like Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar isn’t exactly happy. When he came to Lucknow at his Chote Nawab outlet at Sagar International Hotel at Jopling Road (“Chote Nawab is my franchisee”) one asked him ‘Why?’. Why wasn’t he happy?

“Well, it’s a pity that many in Lucknow today are not aware of the rich culinary Awadhi heritage. Many think that the biryanis and the kebabs served here are the actual Awadhi stuff. Well, they are Awadhi all right. But tell me how many of you would know Patthar Ke Kebab, Patthar Gosht, Dore Kebabs today?” he asks. He adds, “In fact when I travel outside Lucknow I find Hyderabadi biryani more commonly on the menus than the Lakhnawi one.”

So? So, the man has decided to do something about it.

“I plan to set up a chain of Kakori Houses across the country. Several of them would come up in Lucknow as well. I have served the high and the mighty but my desire is to make the food popular amongst the commoners too,” he says.

At his Kakori House, Kakori kebabs would of course be there. “Now a days it’s hard to find the genuine Kakori kebabs anywhere in and around the city. Even in Kakori I wonder how many know the art of preparing the traditional kebabs that Kakori was so famous for once?”

In fact, because he has been serving the stars of the Indian film industry regularly, Ishtiyaque was particularly excited upon learning that Aamir Khan’s latest hit ‘Rang De Basanti’ had a mention of ‘Kakori Kebabs.’

“Aamir and others have tasted the Kakori Kebabs prepared by us. So, I was particularly pleased when I saw his movie where he talks about going to Kakori to have the kebabs,” Ishtiyaque says. He says the Kakori House would also contain all the other Awadhi fare that most have forgotten about. “I plan to sell them at a price that the common people find affordable. The idea is to popularize the Lakhnawi food,” he says.

At Lucknow’s Chote Nawab too Dore Kebab and other delicacies are being introduced. “The whole idea is to make people realise what good food is all about?” And what exactly is it about? “Well, food cannot wait. A guest can.

When the food is ready it’s a sin to keep it waiting. In our restaurants like Chote Nawab and others we take full care of the guests. But food has to take the top priority,” says Qureshi as he tells this correspondent about the new dishes being added on the hotel menu by its manager Anees under his guidance.

As the conversation was coming to a close one thought of asking him, “Has he something to offer to the vegetarians too?” One thought one had him stumped. But then came the answer, “Try my Jackfruit biryani first!”

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 00:21 IST