I was recently invited to a wonderful food event – a celebration of the traditional food of the families of Old Delhi. The recipes had been collected and recreated by food writer Anoothi Vishal and hosted by The Claridges Hotel in Surajkund and although it was a bit of a trek for lunch, it turned out to be well worth braving the last of the monsoon floods for.
While I worked my way through almost everything on the menu, Anoothi, whose own family hail from the old city, gave me a fascinating overview of Old Delhi’s different communities and the food they cook. Many of the dishes were completely new to me and confirmed what I have long suspected – most of India’s great cooking goes on in the domestic kitchen using recipes handed down from generation to generation.
Some of the food highlights – the Paneer aur Aloo Bukhara ke Kofte shown in the picture above, (kofte made from paneer and stuffed with prunes) were unusual and divine, perhaps Persian in origin. The Mutton Pulao was the most succulent I’ve ever tasted, the meat and stock having been cooked slowly in the rice, resulting in delicate flavours, moist rice and melting meat. One very unusual dish was Anoothi’s family recipe for Take Paise, small chick pea flour discs (‘paise’) which are steamed then fried and served in a rich sauce.