ONCE UPON A DAS­TARKHAN

Eid del­i­ca­cies such as Zameen Doz Biryani, Nar­gisi Kofta and Qeema Fara seem to be slowly fad­ing with time. Gour­mands and chefs in the city talk about fes­tive dishes that they miss the most

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Life­style - Ab­hi­nav Verma

Eid al-Fitr, also known as Ra­mazan-Eid or Sweet Eid, marks the end of the month of Ramzan (fast­ing) for Mus­lims around the world. The Eid dawat is a unique ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s an oc­ca­sion when close bonds are formed, and dif­fer­ences for­got­ten over de­li­cious food.

It’s not just an op­por­tu­nity to gorge on de­li­cious food but a chance to savour cul­ture and his­tory as the tra­di­tional recipes are of­ten handed down from one gen­er­a­tion to an­other.

How­ever, the tra­di­tion of re­vis­it­ing Eid del­i­ca­cies is slowly fad­ing as many hand­picked dishes are miss­ing in dawats. The flavours are also less au­then­tic. “Owing to ur­ban­i­sa­tion, fam­i­lies and friends are scat­tered. Peo­ple are busy with jobs. They pre­fer to or­der than cook. The tra­di­tion of pass­ing down recipes is dy­ing,” says Push­pesh Pant, food his­to­rian.

BIRYANI IS NOT THE SAME ANY­MORE

For years, biryani has been a must-have on Eid but vet­eran chef Gu­lam Qureshi of ITC Mau­rya says that it doesn’t taste the same any­more. “Ear­lier, the meat for biryani was cooked over char­coal. To­day’s biryani lacks au­then­tic­ity. Gosht Ka Khichda is an­other del­i­cacy that is not made any­more. It’s an in­tri­cate com­bi­na­tion of meat, var­i­ous dals and wheat. It’s cooked overnight and served af­ter the fast is bro­ken. This del­i­cacy is time con­sum­ing and peo­ple find it too com­plex to make it now,” says the chef.

THE LOST GEMS

The slow demise of com­mu­nity cul­ture is not the only rea­son why cer­tain Eid recipes are lost. “I think peo­ple have gen­uinely lost in­ter­est in cook­ing. To cook these recipes, one re­quires skill. Even if peo­ple want to learn that skill, they don’t have the time. On Eid, my grand­fa­ther used to make Ki­mami Se­viyan of Tigni. When I say Tigni, it comes down to ra­tion of su­gar in se­viyan. It is an art to cook with so much su­gar and keep the del­i­cate se­viyan un­bro­ken and sep­a­rate from each other with no lumps. To­day, you’ll hardly find any­one who has the skill to make se­viyan like that,” says chef Osama Jalali.

Nar­gisi Kofta is yet an­other dish that is rarely served. “The nar­gis or nar­cis­sus flower is shaped like an eye with white pe­tals and deep yel­low cen­tre. The dish is a mix of raw meat and shami kabab paste wrapped around boiled eggs, cooked in ko­rma masala and then cut in the mid­dle. It re­sem­bles a nar­gis flower. I rarely get to cook this now as it takes a lot of time to pre­pare,” says Rana Safvi, food his­to­rian.

Zameen Doz Biryani, once a prized del­i­cacy, is also rarely seen. Chef Nis­hant Choubey says, “The meat was cooked un­der the sand. A hole was made in the ground and filled with burn­ing coal. The dish was cooked on it and it used to be de­li­cious. Com­pare this to take­away food on Eid and you know that there’s so much that we have lost,” he says.

For kids, Eid was the per­fect oc­ca­sion to gorge on Warqi Samosa. “Grow­ing up in Bi­har, my favourite was Warqi Samosa. It had lay­ers and lay­ers of fat. The outer shell of the samosa used to be very thin. The flour was kneaded with an­i­mal fat to make it crispy. The meat fill­ing was flavoured with sautéed onion, gar­lic and other spices. It was then deep fried in oil and an­i­mal fat. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat this dish any­more. It makes me sad. I don’t know how many of my friends in Delhi have ever heard or en­joyed the za­yka of this snack,” says chef Sadaf Hus­sain.

Qeema Fara is an­other dish that was pop­u­lar. “It was a steamed savoury, pre­pared us­ing fer­mented dough. It was stuffed with minced lamb or chana dal and rolled into dumplings for fur­ther steam­ing. One doesn’t see it be­ing pre­pared as part of tra­di­tional Eid feasts any­more as the prepa­ra­tion takes a lot of time,” says chef Arun Sun­dararaj of The Taj Ma­hal Ho­tel.

Gosht ka Khichda is a dish that is not made any­more. It’s an in­tri­cate com­bi­na­tion of meat, var­i­ous dals and wheat GU­LAM QURESHI, CHEF

PHOTO: ITC MAU­RYA

The tra­di­tional Eid spread fea­tures a smor­gas­bord of flavours

PHOTO: IS­TOCK

Nar­gisi Kofta was of­ten served as part of Eid feast

Haleem used to be cooked overnight over tan­door. It was al­ways sim­mered to per­fec­tion, says Chef Manoj Rawat of Le Meri­dien Gur­gaon

PHOTOS: SHUT­TER­SOTCK

Mak­ing the per­fect Ki­mami Se­viyan used to be an art but that is not the case any­more

PHOTO: NIS­HANT CHOUBEY

Zameen Doz Biryani was once a prized del­i­cacy

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