A taste of royalty

Updated: May 21, 2019, 07:39 IST | Karishma Kuenzang

Celebrity chef Kunal Kapur speaks of exploring various cuisines and culinary traditions of the royal families of India in his latest web series

A taste of royalty
Ghutwa ke kebab being made

With his new seven-episode web series, chef Kunal Kapur is exploring both the popular and unknown stories behind dishes enjoyed in royal families in India. All seven chapters of The Royal Palate deal with a different category of dish and explore its place of origin and history.

The first one on kebabs has Kapur heading to Lucknow and then Mahmudabad in search of the lesser-known ghutwa kebab. "In my opinion, the culinary might of any chef can be seen in whether or not s/he can make good galawat ke kebab. We travelled to Mahmudabad and found out that the ghutwa kebab, only found in Lucknow, came first, then the kakori and the galawat. This came about when during the revolt in 1857, the ki­ng of Mahmudabad died. His son was named the nawab and his mother, to pass time, invited people from Lucknow for culinary pursuits," says Kapur.

Chef Kunal Kapur
Chef Kunal Kapur

In another episode on biryanis, Kapur traces the introduction of potatoes in Bengali biryanis to Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, who was exiled to Bengal and travelled with his chefs. "We traced his great-great-great granddaughter who made it for us and told us that there was a time when the biryani had a lot of mutton and dry fruits. But when the kingdom fell, money was an issue. Potatoes were fairly new in the market and viewed as premium products, but cheaper than meat. And so it was added to the dish, also because it increased the portion size," Kapur adds.

He's also explored the food of the Jain community of Bengal, who were closest to the royals via Murshidabad in the eastern state, and Rampur, where he had the opportunity to visit an ancient library that had long-lost recipes like fish ka halwa and ghaas (grass) ka hal­wa, which he will be coming out with soon. And in those books, he also fou­nd mention of a culinary competition akin to Masterchef, where cooks from different regions would compete with each other.

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