Lucknow and Hyderabad are two royal Indian dynasties which were known for the richness of their cuisines. The Mughal influence on these cuisines is evident, but the different spices, cooking techniques and ingredients in both these cuisines result in varying flavours and aromas. Take for instance, the Lakhnavi and Hyderabadi biryani. A famous form of Hyderabadi biryani is the popular kachchi biryani, which is prepared with meat marinated with spices and yogurt. The meat blends with the long-grained basmati rice in a vessel sealed with dough. For the popular Awadhi dum biryani, the rice and meat are partially cooked separately, then layered and cooked by the dum pukht method.
Exploring the finer nuances of the culinary heritage of these historical regions is ‘Shaam-E-Daawat’, at JW Marriott’s Saffron. The feast invites guests to dine like the nawabs and nizams of yore. “Rich and flavoursome, the Nawabi and Nizami cuisines have much in common owing to the unmistakable Mughal influence. From juicy chicken kebabs and tikkas to gourmet mutton delights, both these cuisines offer an overload of flavours,” says Chef Naveen Handa. Blending their native styles of cooking, like the dum or steam cooking for Awadh, and tawa cooking for Hyderabad with the ingredients and spices from the Mughal palate, the Nawabi and Nizami delights prepared by the royal cooks were a feast for the senses.
The Awadhi cuisine displays beautiful artistry which comes out best in dum delicacies, kebabs, and kormas. Meanwhile, the flavoursome Hyderabadi cuisine owes its uniqueness to the use of herbs, spices, condiments or an amalgamation of these. “The Nawabi cuisine uses more of dry fruits and nuts along with milder tones of spiciness owing to the local influence where the food is rich in texture and aroma. Meanwhile, the Nizami food is more towards the spicier side to make it palatable with the traditional palate of the Hyderabadi region which leans on the spicier side,” says Chef Mohammad Mumataj Shah.
The food festival will allow guests to travel back in time and savour signature dishes such as the Hyderabadi Pathar ke Gosht, Haleem Kakori and Gil-E-Firdous from the land of Nizams along with the Lakhnavi Kakori Kebabs, Dal Ka Gosht, Awadhi Chicken Korma and Malai Makhan from the Nawabi kitchens.
Much like the history of the cuisines, the delicacies have interesting stories around them. For instance, the creation of the famous Pathar Ke Gosht dates back to the late 19th century, born out of forgetfulness of the royal cooks of Nizam Asaf Jah Vii. The Nizam used to frequently go hunting in the forest and one such trip, his bawarchis forgot to carry their skewers which were required to prepare kebabs. They improvised by cooking mutton on a flat granite stone, heated by firewood from below. The Nizam developed a liking for the dish which formed the basis of this recipe getting replicated repeatedly at the royal kitchens. More than a century later, the dish is still popular in the region and keeping the authenticity alive, people cook the lamb on granite stone, which gives a unique aroma to the preparation. From the Nawabi palate, a must-try is kakori kebab, the mouth-watering, soft textured lamb skewers named after a small town in Lucknow called Kakori.