Friday, October 28 2016, 08:10:18
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Komal Panwar


Don’t Keep Calm ‘Cuz This ITC Food Festival Will Turn You Into Joey Tribbiani

  • JWB Post
  •  October 18, 2016


They say slow, and steady wins the race. I always wondered if that was true. Don’t worry; I’m not going to delve into the details of running a race. I don’t know about running, but I do know that slow cooked food is unmatched.

ITC Rajputana is celebrating Epicurean Delights from Dum Pukht – The Grand Cuisines of India at their restaurant Jaipur Pavillion from October 14th until October 23rd. Now, I won’t call myself literally a Joey Tribbiani, because I don’t mind sharing food, but may I remind you, that just like him, I wear stretchy pants when I have to eat so that I don’t get teeth marks on my stomach.

Celebrity Chef Gulam M. Qureshi… okay before I tell you anything about his professional wonders, let me tell you about how amazing he was. The chilled out chef allowed us to cook with him. Aaaaaah! We put on red aprons, Chef hats and were prepared to toss the kitchen. Oops!

Let me tell you the coolest thing about entering a kitchen. Do you remember those candy lands that you used to see in fairy tales? Houses made of chocolates, lollipop trees and more. Imagine all of that minus the wicked witch. I wanted to eat everything in the world!

Chef Gulam who’s from Dum Pukht at ITC Maurya, New Delhi was presenting the best dishes from his repertoire.

He was going to teach us how to prepare Dum Biriyani. I was standing next to the Chef thinking how easy it’d be to create Biriyani. Oh, and was I wrong! I usually add some namak, mirch, and dhaniya, and I’m sorted for life, but this was different. This biryani was supposed to be oozing with flavors.

Chef began by throwing in some olive oil inside the handi. After the oil was hot enough, he added some onions and a couple of bay leaves to the oil. Ah, the fragrance of onions, I was almost on the verge of falling into a trance when the chef asked me to stir the mixture.

Olive oil is very light and digests easily. It’s always a good decision to choose olive oil instead of pure ghee.

Honestly, I was a little scared. Though I cook at home all the time, I didn’t want to burn a single piece of the chopped onion. I was standing with a celeb Chef after all.

We’d started adding the vegetables, baby boiled potatoes, hung curd and more. Chef taught us a really cool trick. He said, “If you ever think that the ingredients are sticking to the handi, add a little bit of water.

Once the mix was ready, chef boiled the rice and added some itar to it. WHATTTT? Itar? It was edible Kewra Itar. He added only a couple of drops to the rice. Chef added just a little bit of lemon to the pre-soaked basmati rice so that they don’t stick together.

He created different layers of the rice and the prepared vegetable mix and finished the final layer with soaked kesar. In the end, the handi’s circumference was wrapped with wheat dough and covered with a lid so that no air escapes.

While we waited like the drooling Dogger-in-chief, photographer Pallav made it harder by photographing the food.

Pallav, who was just as hungry as I was, had this peculiar pleasure watching me die out of hunger. Ugh.

The food was then served, and Chef Gulam sat with us, yay!

Me: So, Chef Qureshi, who’s the cook at home?

Chef: My wife. She has her own way of cooking, and I don’t like to interfere there!

Me: Have you taken the cooking inspiration from your mother/ grandmother?

Chef: The influence is what gives you a homely and light taste when you eat the food!

I can’t deny that. There’s something so unique about dum cooked food. The taste penetrates within the meat and every vegetable.

For example, if you’re a fan of kebabs, you must try the Kakori Kebab. It’s basically finely minced lamb. It’s really spicy and literally melts in your mouth. Chef told me how only two kebabs could be prepared with one lamb.

The Dal MaashRaliyan was a favorite for sure. When you visit Jaipur Pavillion, don’t forget to order it. It’s light to eat, packs the authentic flavor of hari dal, and is the perfect example of brilliant slow cooking.

I won’t lie. Fish Kofta is not my favorite thing in the world, but when I tasted them here, I decided to change my mind. The gravy in which it was cooked was different than anything I’d eaten before.

And that’s when the showstopper entered! The biriyani, ahem, we’d cooked. Well, of course, it had to be tasty, ne? I loved how it was like Diwali in my mouth. I cooked it. I rock.

Okay, now before Chef’d kick me out of the place for talking nonsense, I reminded myself to concentrate on the food instead of being a fool. Tehehe.

The cherry on the cake was the Gulab kheer. I’m not exaggerating. It was really what God felt like. I fell in love and turned full Tribbiani when I ate that. Yep, a 100% sure. *wink*

Gulab Kheer, eh? How you doin’?


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