“Daulat ke tarazoo mein tolo to faqeer hain hum,
Giza-e-hind me hum jaisa Nawaab nahi koi.”
The past tumbles through the passage of time carrying records of bygone moments, heard and read about the empires whose cultural standards continue to dictate. Yes, this is about Nawabs, and this post is about The Nawabs of India Food Fest happening at Zeera, Conrad, Pune. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s culinary contest with a shehzada of Delhi is exactly what I remembered when the servers helped me with the starters and mains, the golden age flowed into every aspect of life, from customs to cuisine to clothes and constantly sought to outshine the grandeur of Delhi — a rivalry that exists even today. “If Delhi loves biryani, Lucknow is fond of pulao. Well so much for that!
Zeera at Conrad, Pune is hosting “Nawabs of India Food Festival” from 17th March to 02nd April 2017.
My dear friend Sarah Sever and I, found ourselves for dinner at Zeera, the specialty Indian restaurant at Conrad and trust me we were overjoyed.
A delicious culinary story that never ceased to amaze, experiencing the history of an ancient India on your plate, is their concept and there was no way in hell we were going to miss their lavish feast.
Under the rightful guidance of the culinary genius Mandar Madav, Executive Chef at Conrad, Pune, the team at Zeera, have curated a menu fit for the kings.
Chef Pravin Shetty sent us some of his best creations and we just couldn’t resist, starting with the “Aloo ki nazakat” and going on till the Phaldhari rabdi falooda, a dessert which put us in a foodcoma.
Aloo ki Nazakat – That does sound elegant, (Nazakat – Elegance), this carnivore has never had a better aloo (Potato) in life, it’s made of potatoes which are stuffed with paneer (Cottage cheese) and khoya (Condensed milk) zaafraan (Saffron) and is cooked in a tandoor, such intricate detailing to a dish make me a happy man, Just loved this delicate, rich and silky ‘vegetarian’ dish.
Kumbh ki Galauti – For years I was intrigued by the most fabled of kebabs, The Galauti kebab. It is perhaps the only kebab that is shrouded in complete mystery and still is a piece de resistance. And the humble chefs at Zeera served a vegetarian version of a Galauti on warqui parantha. God, this meat eater was impressed!
Sailana Dal Tadka – The royal family of Sailana in Madhya Pradesh has taken on the task of archiving traditional recipes from royal families since their ancestor, Raja Dilip Singh, first began to do so in the 1900s. I am sure the Sailana dal tadka is one hidden recipe of the royal family which finds molasses as one of its key ingredient. Sheer indulgence!
Stuff like dum ka paneer, bagara baingan and the aloo ka Razeli salan made this carnivore think, that there are things other than red and white meat which can satiate one’s hunger.
Lagan ki Boti – An ode to the culinary craftsmen of Awadh, where richly marinated cubes from the lamb shank are initially simmered with lamb stock in a Lagan, well these didn’t sit too well with me, guess the onions played mischief.
Murgh kalmi kebabs – Mild in spice, juicy, succulent and tender kebabs, loved them, Period. Gosht Tarkalia – Well I seriously don’t know where this comes from, also I don’t want to know, I was so lost in the taste, the texture, the flavor that I just couldn’t fathom anything else. A close cousin of my favorite Nihari, resembled it with thick curry and falling off the bone meat. Pure Bliss!
Also, don’t forget to try their exotic alcohol free drinks which will take your breath away, one such mocktail is the Tandoori Mojito.
These dishes are filling and oh so delicious, you want more of it but you can’t really have it, so I jumped to desserts and tried the famous Phaldhaari Rabdi falooda and liked it pretty much, also tried the Gulab aur Phalon ki Rabdi which had gulkand and sliced apples in it, a fitting end to a royal meal.
I am longing to go back and gorge on the Maas ke Sule and the Awadhi murgh korma among the other favorites. I would like to thank Chef Mandar and his very experienced team Zeera, Conrad, Pune for treating us with such grace and royalty.
The “Nawabs of India Food Festival” is on till 02nd April 2017. Make the most of it guys!