In the bylanes of Old Delhi, near Jama Masjid, lived a reputed doctor who’d never shut the doors of his clinic, making himself accessible to his patients 24/7. Which meant the khansamas from the nearby eateries would consult him at the oddest hours knowing Dr Jalali would oblige them with a cure. And they in turn would repay him in the way they knew best – through their cooking. So Dr Jalali’s family not only got to sample the most authentic flavours of Old Delhi, but his wife, Nazish Jalali was also let in on the secret recipes of their famous, heritage cuisine.
Nazish, a naturally gifted culinarian herself with a penchant for hosting large house parties, loves to cook. Add to that her roots in Rampur and its Mughal influence, and you have delicious history on a plate. Egged on by her son, food writer-critic turned chef Osama Jalali, the duo have been taking these treasured recipes to different cities in India through the Oberoi group.
Currently in town till November 30 2015 for Daawat-e-Purani Dilli, the ongoing food festival at Kanak, Trident Hyderabad, Osama and his mother have been dishing out some of the rarest royal Mughlai cuisine.
The festival is on for dinner with a fairly extensive a la carte menu. Some must-try starters are the Kachhe Keeme ki Tikiyas (minced lamb marinated with spices and sandalwood paste and shallow fried) and Mewa Kebabs (cheese, khoya, yoghurt, spices and dried fruits presented as an ode to Emperor Babur of the Mughal era).
From the main course my favourite was the Keema hari mirch – hand pounded minced lamb with homeground spices cooked on dum with green chillies, a speciality from Rampur. There are many vegetarian options as well like the comfort food Tehari, a traditional staple vegetable pulao with seasonal vegetables made in Old Delhi homes and neighbouring rural areas of Shahjahanabad.
The most surprisingly and unique element of the menu for me was the Gosht ka halwa. Yes, you read that right. A unique sweet mash up of meat and spices with not the slightest whiff of its surprise ingredient. My first experience of a non-vegetarian dessert. You should try it too.