Shining the spotlight on the uncommon dishes of the Mughal cuisine is The Oberoi with its festival entitled, Bygone Recipes of the Mughals. An amalgam of Asian and Persian flavours and ingredients, the menu seeks to look past the biryanis and kebabs and really delve into unique creations, such as the Murgh zameen doz (chicken marinated with almonds, yoghurt and spices, wrapped in dough and cooked in an earthen pot placed under the ground).
Helmed by mother-son duo, chef Begum Nazish and Osama Jalali, a food critic and consultant, the spread also has its fair share of vegetarian options to keep everyone satisfied. Paneer ki goliyan, a delicately spiced affair featuring small ‘bullets’ of cottage cheese wrapped in silver and gold leaves was a dish that was offered to Hindu visitors of the royals during Id, while Kebab-e-Burghul (broken wheat, pepper, coriander and lentil kebab served with a fiery mint chutney) was a favourite of king Aurangzeb, who turned vegetarian towards the end of his reign. Mewa Shahi Kebab, another vegetarian starter, which brings together cheese, khoya, yoghurt, spices and dried fruits is an ode to emperor Babur, who had a soft spot for dried fruits. Non-vegetarians can opt for the Murgh Pateeli Kebab (chicken pockets filled with raisins, pistachios, apricots, mince, pepper and saffron, and cooked in a deep copper vessel), Macchli ki Shammi (pan-fried, smoked and spiced fish ‘tikiyas’ filled with yoghurt, onion, fennel and ginger) and Yakhni Kebab (lamb cooked in yakhn or broth flavoured with cloves).
Main course lays emphasis on their rice-based dishes, with options such as Qubooli (rice and Bengal gram cooked with saffron, spices and dry fruits), Motia Pulao (a pulao of green peas and pearls of poached eggs wrapped in silver leaves to resemble pearls) and Mutanjan Pulao (rice and chicken with orange, cardamom, dates and figs). Highly recommended by Jalali is the Amba Qaliya — braised lamb with raw mangoes, onions, ginger, coriander, dry fruits and saffron.
Offering an interesting twist to the dessert spread is Gosht Ka Halwa. A mix of meat, spices and sugar, this may not sound the most appetising, but is definitely worth a try.
November 9 – 14. `1,600++. At Le Jardin, MG Road. Details: 25585858
— Rashmi Rajagopal Lobo