Friday, June 27, 2014


Most of us surely heard the name of legendary Grand Master Chef Imtiaz Qureshi and admired his creations of royal delicacies. Chef Mohammad Imtiaz Qureshi, is known for reinventing the forgotten Awadhi cuisine. He dedicated several years of his life in improvising the Awadhi recipes.But it is something great to meet him and have food like Royal style. It is really rare that he invites you to break the bread with him. We sampled the preview of new menu being unvailed by Master Chef Imtiaz Qureshi of ITC Sonar's Dum Pukht fame, where they showcased a royal repast five course menu paired with Royal Salute 21 YO by whiskey expert Sandeep Arora. Chef Qureshi played the perfect host as we feasted many more exotic specialities from the signature 'Dum Pukht' repertoire. Personally, I felt really fortunate and honoured that chef Qureshi was present among us and described why those menus are called 'Royal'.
Chef Imtiaz Qureshi (Left) & Whisky Ambassador Sandeep Arora (Right)
'The Shahenshah of Dum Pukht Cooking' Chef Qureshi has much to thank the ITC welcomgroup Hotels for. He was the head chef of the famous Clarke's Hotel in Lucknow. And before that a caterer for Mughlai food in the old city. ITC offered Imtiaz a contract, to head the operation of their Indian kitchens. Imtiaz was encouraged to research the forgotten cuisine of the nawab of Awadh. He spent years in perfecting the receipes, naming it "Dum Pukht" after the process of cooking. The cuisine was launched at a restaurant by the same name at the ITC Maurya Sheraton in 1989.
Chef Qureshi (Centre)
When I took a look on his palms, they are not like we usually seen, little big enough. He uses them to measure all the spices that go into his dum pukht recipes. As he can't read nor write, so doesn't understand the measurements. But he has a natural feel for ingredients, as per him 'andaz'. He measures the ingredients in his palm. By instinct, by experience he can understand what is holding is enough or if it is more or less.
Chef inside the kitchen
Before I come to the menus, will attempt to what is 'Dum Pukht' cooking is all about. 'Dum Pukht' is a Persian word, which is a slow cooking technique associated with the Awadh region of India, in which meat and vegetables are cooked in a sealed contained over a very low flame. The technique may be based on earlier Persian cooking methods introduced to India. But tradition assigns in India to the reign of Nawab Asaf-ud-daulah in the late 19th century. This cooking method brings you the intense flavours and leisurely luxury of slow cooked food made from authentic recipes garnered from the royal kitchen of Awadh.
Dum pukht cooking uses a round, heavy – bottomed pot, a handi, in which food is tightly sealed and cooked over a slow fire. There are two main aspects to this style of cooking; bhunao and dum, or ‘roasting’ and ‘maturing’ of a prepared dish. In this style of cuisine, herbs and spices play an extremely critical role. The process of slow roasting gently persuades each to release maximum flavor. The sealing of the lid of the handi with dough achieves maturing. Cooking slowly in its juices, the food retains all its natural aromas and becomes imbued with the richness of flavors that distinguishes the dish. 
Starter Plate
Firstly, a dish arrived to our table named "Raan-e-huzoor", baby lamb legs cooked on the dum with a thick date sauce, embellished with walnut and almonds. Meat melted in the mouth and while it came with mughlai paratha, just amazing! This mughlai paratha is not a layered paratha as we seen usually, it was stuffed paratha, slightly sweet in taste and hard, but easilly breakable. Along with these the next starter was "Jinga Qureshi". Jumbo prawns stuffered with dried apricot and cheese encased in a soft puff pastry shell. The taste and flavours of the prawn was such yummy, no one can resist to taste of it.
Jhinga Qureshi
The next catagory of foods were QORMA, QALIYA, SALAN. By name you can guess how delicious platter was! The first dish of this course arrived in the table was "Samudri Ratan". Soft balls made with fresh and tendered crab meat in a delicate fenugreek flavoured gravy, a very luscious dish indeed! Next dish was "Koh-E-Avadh". This is one of the chef's special recipe of qorma. Elegantly exposed lamb shank, Dum cooked in their own cardamom tinged juices and marrow, finished with saffon, just tastes divine. "Dal Badami" was the next dish which arrived in our table. A real tasty dal made by white urad lentils, flaved and tempered with dill leaves enriched with sliced almond. "Desi murgh ishtew" served on next. A Super tempting country chicken qorma braised over a slow burning fire, with onions, black pepper, yogurt and other spices. "Dum Ki Kumb" the delicious gravy of button mushrooms, which slow cooked in tomato and cashewnut based aromatic gravy imbued with fennel and dried ginger was simply superb! Along with all those four dishes they served soft Roomali Roti and Naan-e-Bah Khummach. The mouthwatery patter definitely fulfilled anyone's tastebuds as well as stomach. It was surely an delicate and delightful platter.

But there was no doubt, champion of the day was "Dudhiya Biryani", a truelly flavourful, aromatic and toothsome biryani which was made in Lucknowi style.  fit for kings and went onto occupy pride of place in the kitchens of Nawabs and Nizams of India as Biryani was considered a royal dish,This delicious and distinct flavoured layer rice dish was slow cooked with Tender lamb morsles, Aromatic Basmati rice, milk and flavouring agents. 
Dudhiya Biryani
This royal meal was ended with "Shahi Tukda", an exotic dessert of saffron rabri, spread on a slice of syrup soaked homemade bread, and "Lab-e-Mashooq", a frozen dessert of reduced milk scented with orange, royal style of 'Kulfi'. The five course royal style meal was rounded off with 'Meetha Pan'.
Shahi Tukda & Lab-e-Mashooq
Whiskey connoisseur Sandeep Arora savours a 21-year-old Royal Salute. "This whiskey has taken so long to reach our table; what were you doing 21 years ago?" he asked. Sandeep is in the city to curate what he calls a Royal Repast: matching the well-aged Royal Salute with the most popular royal cuisine. Sandeep's passion for whiskey is evident when he talks about it. "Whiskys and food pairing was introduced way back in early 90s at a time when whiskey was not very popular, or rather, was losing ground to wines. It's not just a concept where you think whiskey is high in alcohol content or perceived stong drink and you don't drink it with anything. We started pairing this type of food to showcase how aromas and flavours of whiskey could match the flavours of the food", he said. As Dum Pukht cuisine means royal cuisine, so Arora decided to blend this scotch whiskey with gooseberry, hazelnuts and lavender. "The oil in these foods coats the tongue, inhibiting taste. So as not to confuse the palate, Sandeep says that he began to keep one whiskey as the base on which the entire meal can be matched. The food is travelling over different zonal tastes, and the whiskey has to be like a solid partner. Royal Salute fit the bill amount it was non-conflicting, complementary and it gently rests with you. The branding helps in adding to the royal aura of the entire meal", Sandeep explained.
Whiskey Ambassador Sandeep Arora
The Dum cooking using exotic spices and herbs, so that the one dish meal became royal delicacies. As per Chef Qureshi, Pukht means purity, cleanliness. As per him, food should be prepared in such a way so that its sanctity can be compared as offering to the God. Thus, those exotic foods can satisfy each and every soul. But to catch the aromas, flavours and tastes of Qureshi's cooking, you will have to go at Dum Pukht, ITC Sonar, Kolkata.


  1. Great opportunity.. Yummy menus...event and giveaway going on

  2. lovely catching up with chef n yummy delicacies :)

  3. Wat a wonderful opportunity, am drooling over those beautiful dishes.

  4. wow!it is a great opportunity!delicious dishes too

  5. Very nice write, looks like I was there. Great.