Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin is a 700-year old area in Old Delhi, inhabited by more than 10,000 people. The settlement is built around the famous Nizamuddin Dargah of the Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Zaika-E-Nizamuddin is a self-help group which is part of an initiative of Aga Khan Foundation in this area where a group of 11 chefs is carrying on the legacy of showcasing the old Mughlai cuisine of Delhi. Through this catering unit, they are dishing out food items made from recipes handed over through generations. The group also supplies healthy home-made snacks to the malnourished children in the community.
Park Hyatt in Hyderabad is collaborating with The Aga Khan Foundation and Zaika-E-Nizamuddin to bring a festival of traditional Mughlai dishes from Delhi. Six chefs from Basti Nizamuddin has travelled to the city to present about a dozen items which are being included in the buffet of The Dining Room, the all-day restaurant at the hotel. A significant number of popular items from Old Delhi is being offered as part of the buffet. Since the ladies are preparing the food from their home recipes, the food is as traditional as it can get.
Some of the delicacies being offered at the festival are:
Murgh Ka Salan: A rich and creamy gravy of chicken with ingredients like coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds, and yoghurt. A perfect match for the Khameeri Roti which is being served with it.
Shammi Kabab: The traditional kabab of Mughlai cuisine uses mutton keema, chana dal, chopped onions, and select spices. After cooking the mutton mince and chana together with spices till all the juice is absorbed, round balls are prepared from the mix, which are then shallow fried. A coriander based green chutney goes well with the kabab.
Lamb Nihari: The greasy and smooth dish of slow-cooked lamb is cooked overnight. The item has a perfect balance of flavour and masala. The melted fat from the lamb shanks adds taste to the dish.
Hara Keema: The mutton is cooked in a puree of spinach and other leafy greens, along with abundant peas. No colour is added to the dish.
Shahi Paneer: A popular dish from the Mughlai cuisine with cottage cheese, yoghurt, milk, fresh cream and a paste of almond and cashews.
Apart from these, the Lamb Biryani of Delhi is a pakki version which is not at all greasy. One of the interesting features of this dish is that a stuffed red chilli based achar is used as an ingredient of the yakhni.
Khichda, a lentil and meat dish which is essentially a comfort food is another attraction of the festival. For vegetarians, there are dishes like Hara Bhara Kabab, Soya Chaap Ki Sabji, and Chhole Masala.
A passionate food and travel enthusiast, Sabyasachi is quite popular in the food and beverages circles of Hyderabad, the city he has made his home for the last twenty-five years. As a much-travelled sales person, Sabyasachi has been exposed to many international cuisines as well as regional food from remote corners of India. He blogs about his food and travel experiences at Foodaholix, and is a frequent contributor of food-related articles to the print media.