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Flavours of the past

18 Nov, 2015 by Priyadarshini Nandy

Multi-tasking must be in his DNA, as Osama Jalali can wax eloquent about food, and keep an eye on how much you are eating, or rather not eating.

In the city, with his mother Nazish Jalali, for a promotion that takes diners through the kitchens of old Delhi, Jalali says that when he set out researching on the food, he found plenty of dishes that literally had no recipes. “A few of the dishes were recreated using memories,” he says, referring to the most curious gosht halwa. A dessert made with lamb, it is indeed difficult to figure out that the beautifully flavoured halwa is entirely made of meat (and milk, sugar, and cardamom, among other things).

Ladling a generous portion of gosht nihari into a bowl, he says, “Try this with the sheermal,” as we talked about me staring at a big bowl of beef nihari at the breakfast table in Karachi. Something like that would never feature in my everyday life.

“These dishes that you are eating are how we make at home. I have not done anything to the recipes. The idea behind this or any other promotion that we do is to bring back old and forgotten recipes. Most of the dishes on this particular menu are from the traditional homes of old Delhi.”

The menu features dishes such as the shami kabab, seekh kabab, kacche keeme ki tikiya, dahi phulki, kathal ki galouti, mewa kabab to begin with. “There is quite a bit of vegetarian food in the Mughlai cuisine, unlike what is normally believed. And then we figured out that Aurangzeb used to be vegetarian, and his cooks had come up with quite a few vegetarian dishes for him,” Jalali adds. “We would really like to reintroduce the old cuisines of India to the younger generations.”

Incidentally, his mother, Nazish, is equally responsible, if not more, in putting together such an elaborate menu every time they do a pop-up or a promotion. Word has it that she has been at the hotel kitchen sharp at 7 am, readying the dishes for the buffet.

Priced at Rs.1,450 plus taxes, the Purani Dilli Ki Dawat is on at The Oberoi Bengaluru till November 24th (for lunch and dinner).

Follow her @priyanandyblr

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