Rampuri cuisine is often confused with Awadhi, or even Lucknowi but my brush with it at the recently held Rampuri festival at Crowne Plaza's Cafe G proved otherwise. A rich tradition of Nawabi food, coupled with zealously guarded recipes been passed down from generations to generations gives Rampuri food a distinct yet recognisable character. The geographical proximity to Lucknow and Delhi do influence the cuisine but those supremely gifted khansamas still managed to create their own distinctive taste. I caught up with Chef Rehmaan Mujeebur who was spearheading the operations for this festival and discovered some relatively unknown aspect of the cuisine. It's the use of spices and the method of cooking that lend it a distinctive flavour.
The taar qorma is the star of this nawaabi cuisine, easily confused with the Nihari but it’s the subtle differences that set it apart. The myriad use of spices and the blending of masalas at different stages imparts it such richness that drew people to it repeatedly. The balluchi gosht was infused again with a special masala which makes it stand apart from the usual cashew-nut gravy fare. The baingan ka bhurta was a digression from the usual , this one was made without tomatoes and still managed to be a stunning creation. Kacchi machli ka salan not only did it sound intriguing , It was also also a tremendous success at the festival. khoya gobhi- this was the first time I had this combination and was thoroughly impressed. The arhar dal was simple and perfect akin to home cooking.
Desserts were stupefying with the use of ingredients not found elsewhere. I am not generally a fan of sevaiyaan but Chef Rehmaan’s version made me change my outlook towards this humble dessert. The mirch ka halwa piqued my curiosity and a bite of it had my tastebuds fumbling. It had the pungency of capsicum balanced by the sweetness of sugar and the entire combination just leaves one comfortably numb.The winner here though was khubani ka halwa, Apricot is just my favourite ingredient for dessert and the halwa was rich, decadent.
Indrashis Sinha and team Crowne Plaza kudos for pulling off another successful festival.