Used in perfumes, Bakhoor wood is not part of any cuisine. But Steak House brings the expensive fragrance to your table as Bakhoor Mandi
Bakhoor, cultural history tells us, is being used for centuries in the Arabian peninsula both by the royalty and the prophets. Bringing this tradition in food, chef Inam Khan of Steak House, Banjara Hills, sources chips of Bakhoor and prepares Bakhoor Mandi. Nowhere else, Mandi, a dish of meat, rice and spices that originated in Yemen, has been prepared with this fragrant wood. And he is launching this dish in his restaurant a week before the Holy Month begins.
Noteworthy is the mention of Arwa Suleyhi, Queen of Yemen, who would send the perfumed wood as gifts to Najaf, Egypt, Karbala and other parts of the surrounding topography. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Bakhoor would be burnt and people in distant cities would know that the gift of scent has arrived. As we talk to the chef, a huge mound of yellow rice arrives, atop which sits a large piece of tenderly cooked mutton sprinkled with browned onions, fried nuts and raisins. The sweet fragrance catches the other guests unawares. The aroma is of Bakhoor. And the Mandi is made with that. Shares chef Inam, “I soak the wood chips in milk in which saffron has been dissolved, put it in the fridge and then take it out the next day. The chips go in the burner while the milk is added to Mandi when it is half-cooked.” The meat that he chooses for the dish has to be really soft and succulent and for this he selects goats that do not weigh more than five or six kg. He shows us the wood chips in two colours. One which is black and is sold for a whopping Rs 1 lakh and the other variety, dark brown priced at `10,000. “The wood is mostly used in scenting rooms, but this is the first time anyone is using it to cook food. Surprisingly this wood grows in North East of India and not many people know about it,” shares chef Inam. But then possibly, in ancient times, through merchants and travellers it reached Middle East and became popular.
Mandi is usually cooked in a pit. But he makes it on burners in his kitchen. He uses a heavy-bottomed pan. Along with rice, spices and meat, he adds vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, bell-peppers and onions to extract the flavours. He adds, “I marinate the meat with fruit juices and chef’s special mix of spices. Spring lamb of five kg is cut into 12 pieces and then cooked for three to four hours.” Bakhoor can be ordered online.
Good for health
The scent of Bakhoor had mingled with each grain, when we tasted the dish. What we liked more was that the chef had sprinkled the powder of Bakhoor on the rice which gave it an exquisite sweet fragrance. Experts say that Bakhoor helps in calming down excited nerves and brings serenity to the mood. That’s how even today a lot of people in Middle East burn this wood to make their houses fragrant and the burner is offered to guests so that they can take a sniff of the scent. Chef served it with carrot chutney and yakhni soup. Price: `750++ taxes. Details: 69994858
— Saima Afreen