Chef Mujeebur Rehman introduces the cuisine of Murshidabad with a brief lesson on history. In the early eighteenth century, when undivided Bengal was ruled by Mughals, the state’s capital was shifted from Dhaka to Murshidabad. It laid the foundation for the royal cuisine historic to this corner of India. The dishes are marked with Bengali influences with the addition of potatoes, fish and mustard oil.
Chef Rehman is curating a 10-day food experience at the JW Marriott Sahar in Mumbai celebrating signatures dishes of the royals from this region. The starters have a melt-in-the-mouth chap-style chicken pasanda, boti kebab and mahee Nawabi tikka. Mahee is fish in Murshidabad, and it goes into kebabs, curries and even biryani. Vegetarians can pick from addictive Anjeer Kofta, Paneer Anjeer Tikka and the unique paniphal (water chestnut) tikkia.
Warm sheermal and Roghni roti (with khasta-like texture) accompany the starters. The breads can give the best sourdough a tough competition. Laden with ghee and cooked in a tandoor, they are delicious enough to be eaten on their own, and can be enjoyed with chai too, says the chef.
The breads remain on the table for the main course, which features a sublime mutton biryani, vegetarian pulao cooked with a little milk, a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries and a comforting daal made creamy with some milk. The food isn’t laden with spices and ghee. Chef Mujbeer encourages diners to enjoy the biryani on its own without raita as an accompaniment. A good biryani, he says, doesn’t need curd or raita to mask the flavours of its well-balanced spices. The Murshidabadi biryani is fragrant with a bit of rose, saffron and kewra jaal. He uses saffron roots and a special garam masala to take it up a few notches. The meal ends with the most comforting, perfectly cold saffron-laced Zaffrani kheer.
If you reserve a table for the menu titled The Royal Flavours of Murshidabad, do as the chef says: “Open your senses and just eat freely.”
The festival ends on October 8. Price: ₹ 2,600 plus taxes; For reservations: Call 022-68828888