While I polished off the last spoon of Qimmami Sewainya (Vermicelli Dessert), my partner in crime, Attulah Shaikh commented,” The beginning was great, so was the end and in between the two, it was a delightful journey of taste“. This sentence sums up the experience we had at Gharana-E-Rampur, a food festival curated around this lost cuisine by Chef, Food Critic and Culinary Historian Osama Jalali at Doubletree By Hilton, Gurgaon.
Frankly, I had gone there to enjoy the non-vegetarian fare by the Jalali family (his wife and mother are equal partners in the kitchen in preparing the family recipes). However, the vegetarian dishes were equally great and tasteful. Each dish was a delight for the camera and a feast for the palate. In other words, the food was both Instagramable and Blogable !!Starters
We started with Badaam Ka Shorba along with some veg and non-veg starters. The first one was Rampuri Dahi Bhalle from the cart. Badaam Shorba had the right consistency of the soup with very balanced spices. A punch of black pepper as an after taste served as a perfect flavor to start your feast on a rainy day. The sharpness of black pepper in the soup was smoothened by this Rampuri Dahi Bhalla. The Bhalla here was a flat bread (a little bigger than Aloo Tikki) made with Urad Dal (lentils) and served with Dahi (curd), green and red Chutneys and spices.
Our table was then populated with Kathal Ke Shami, Kache Keley Ke Shami Kebab, Shahi Paneer Tikka, Yakhani Toli Boti, Murg Kebab and Kache Keeme Ki Tikiya.
The Kathal Shami were done in ghee and had a crusty outer with a smooth paste like inner infused with the flavor of the jackfruit and spices. These were being roasted on an open vessel. Besides this, was the Kache Keeme Ki Tikiya being done. These small kebabs had the flavor of fat (perhaps the kebabs were done in its own fat) and the meat with very balanced spices. Similarly, the Yakhani Toli Boti was full of balanced flvours of meat and the mild spices. The meat was so tender that though it was on bone but would come off the bone without any effort. The other kebabs too had their distinct flavours with very balanced spices.
All these starters, with intermittent sips of very soothening and refreshing Mufarrah, laid a solid foundation of my expectations from the main course and the desserts.
Main Course (Vegetarian)
I started of with the Vegetarian Fare on the counter which had Laute Palaute, Chana Dal Bhartha and Katliya. Laute Palaute (forget to ask Bhai Osama about the name) was chunks of Besan Pancake (gramflour) done in a thick gravy. One can call it a close cousin of Gattey Ki Sabzi (Rajasthani) or Besan Ki Sabzi (reminded me of my mother’s Punjabi recipe). But yet this one had an edge. The Besan Chunks were actually flat and silky soft. The gravy had balanced spices which complimented the taste of Besan. Chana Dal Bhartha was a smooth paste with Haleem (read here my story on Haleem) like consistency. It was again a delight for the palate. I could have my dinner with that itself. It had the flavor of ghee and spices yet not a trace of any solid thing. You add minced meat to it and it would be Haleem. In a way, I could safely say, it is a vegetarian Haleem albeit with much less oil. Finally, there was this Katliya which appeared like slices of Radish (Mooli) but actually were thin slices of Potato done with spices and seasoning in ghee. This brought me back the memories of the Nawabi Breakfast (sliced potatoes with thin chapatti) I had in the house of Nawab of Mirzapur (UP) almost four decades ago.
I could have sufficed with the vegetarian dishes only for they were really great in flavours and taste. But then all these had actually encouraged me to not to go without the non-vegetarian delights on the counter.
Main Course (Non Vegetarian)
Osama Bhai had specially recommended Tar Gosht and Gobhi Gosht as must try !
Tar Gosht was a Mutton Curry with golden hues. The aroma from the dish told you it was super tasty with royal flavours. While transferring from the serving dish to your plate, the gravy would give you the consistency of a wire (Tar in hindi; that’s why the name). The gravy was full of balanced flavours. The sharpness of spices balanced with the sweetness, of maybe onions, provided a perfect base to the flavor of the meat. The meat was on the bone and yet the entire bone would come off the flesh with a slight effort. The meat was silky soft and melt-in-mouth kind.
Gobhi Gosht was again a dry mutton dish which had greenish hues. The morsels of mutton peeped out of a thick green masala. You took a spoon for tasting and the flavours unfold gradually. First the mild taste of Gobhi (Cauliflower) with appear and then slowly you would identify the Spinach followed by others. My guess is that I tasted flavours of Radish and Turnip too, though not sure. All these veggie flavours are followed by the taste of boneless meat. The meat again was quite tender. A simple yet a complex dish which had variety of textures and tastes and mild spices.
Next was this Murg Stew a good looking Chicken Stew done in translucent gravy with Red Chilies giving company to the chunks of Chicken. This balanced sweet and sour gravy with melt-in-mouth tender meat was a perfect wrap up. I enjoyed all the meat dishes with Khamiri Roti.
Wait ! How could one move on without the Biryani, if it is there ?
Do Gosht Biryani had a smaller version of colourful rice (what one gets in Awadhi Biryani) which had a minimal glaze of oil with Mutton and Chicken Balls (hence the name Do Gosht) playing hide and seek with the rice. Once again, the rice were flavourful with the coating of mild spices, a bit dry and had a little bite (which the Chef said that it should not be there). However, the meat in the Biryani made up to a great extent. It was tender, very flavourful and once again, melt-in-mouth sorts.
I started with Galothi , a cross between Phirni and Rice Kheer with loads of coconut added. This was followed with Zafrani Aloo, sweet grated potatoes done in saffron which had a crunch and also the hint of gooeyness of the likes of Karachi Halwa with flavours of cardamom.
This was a real tricky dessert difficult to dissect. Finally, the curtain call was done with the bushy, crispy Qimmami Sewainya (dry Vermicelli) with very mild sweetness and loads of dry fruits done in ghee.
Bhai Osama Jalali and his family has done wonders with the dishes and has brought to the forefront this lost cuisine of Rampur with this pop up. You would have noticed that time and again I have used the phrase “Balanced / mild spices”. For the dishes were not very high on masalas or oil. That is the whole beauty where the spices and oil compliment the main dish and don’t overpower it.
This festival is on till 10th March 2019. Also on the display is his traditional family utensils of pure silver there. Not to miss is “Longini” a garland made with Cloves which is said to be over 100 years old and has been passed on to his wife by his mother who got it from her mother in law.
Do share with me of your experience here or any other similar experience you get to enjoy. Till then…
Bon Appetite !!
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