Food & Drinks

In an Awadhi kitchen

The Ista Hotel in Bangalore recently won the Gold medal for a competition held by the Taste and Travel magazine. “It was a fusion competition”, explains Chef Shubroto Goswami where they had to combine an Indian dish with a wine. The class clapped and the teacher blushed with happiness. The cooking class organized as a part of the Times Bangalore festival was much more than drab instructions of cutting and cooking food. Goswami explained right at the beginning, “This is an interactive session. This is not a classroom.” As he reads out the names of the dishes, the women ask him, “Will we get printouts?” “No”, he replied, “you will watch me do it.” Equipped with a camera and a projector, it was the first time for me that I was watching a cookery show on a screen and could smell the dish as well. It seemed technology had suddenly improved.

“The first dish is Dum ka Chaanp.” My mouth was already flooding with the mention of lamb chops. Goswami explained how it will take more than an hour an a half to cook it, since it is slow cooking. That is what Dum cooking is. “Sad”, said my tummy as it growled in rebellion. “The second dish I will show you is Murgh sid dumpukht.” Boneless chicken, cashew nut paste and white gravy already gave me ideas about the taste. “The next one is a little exotic- it is bharwa guchi.” Guchi or morels are basically dried mushrooms and Goswami had an Zaman specialty dish which sells for Rs. 450 a plate.

A guchi passed around the class room as the teacher wanted us all to have a feel of the thing- a black shriveled mushroom that needed to be soaked before being cooked. He informed that it was Rs. 25,000 per kg. Because of time constraints, we were also shown the final preparation the dish. As the class wanted to know any alternatives for guchi, Goswami mentioned tindi, karela and even capsicum. He explained, “Food and cuisine is such a thing that it depends from person to person.” He adds, “A composer makes music out of seven notes and you get to hear new songs every day. Cuisines have at least one million ingredients. I can not count the number of permutation and combination. It is all about imagination.”

The last dish for the day was announced as “Khajur ka kofta”- a sweet and tangy vegetable dumpling is thick gravy. And there was a discussion of chillies. I did not know there were more than 80-90 varieties of chillies in the world and that they all taste different. The chef asked his audience to experiment masalas on alu ki sabji since potato is a neutral vegetable. “Mexicans use seven to eight varieties of chillies.” I was amazed. I just use a basic red chilli powder found in the market.

Then started the cooking of the lamb chops and Goswami explained how to clean raw meat and how to make it tender. It was pure learning. As the cooking progressed the room was filled with the aroma of Awadhi food. He shared a very funny experience in the room. He told us how a few years ago he used to do television shows and that in one episode he cooked one of his favourite dishes. The next day more than 100-200 people wrote back saying that the dish was bland and without taste. “It can happen to everyone.” The classes guessed in chorus, “Salt.” With a smile he added salt into the wok.

 The cooking went on as he continued answering questions about microwave cooking, pressure cookers, garam masala, butchers and others. Goswami had shared the review of guests that, “After having a four course meal, guests, even foreigners can have a good night sleep. They don’t need to drink glasses and glasses of water.” Awadhi cuisine did turn out to be lighter than mughlai which is thick with cream, ghee, cashew paste and masalas.

Tags: review, Ista, times bangalore festival, Chef Shubroto Goswami, awadhi, mughlai, food, lamb chops, murgh, chicken, guchi, morels, mushroom, dum, cooking, cookery show, masala

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