Mumbai food: Eat like a Nizam; enjoy a six-course Hyderabadi wedding feast

Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 12:46 IST | Krutika Behrawala

This weekend, indulge in an authentic Hyderabadi wedding feast, whipped up by a home chef who honed her culinary chops from khansamas

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (Chicken). Pics courtesy/The Deccan Dining Room
Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (Chicken). Pics courtesy/The Deccan Dining Room

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, 52-year-old Seema Mitra would spend much of her time in the kitchen at her home in Hyderabad, keenly observing an elderly cook, Mohammed Husain, whip up kebabs. “We would call specialised cooks to prepare meals at home. One was hired only to cook biryani,” says Mitra, who migrated to Mumbai three decades back.

Khubani Ka Meetha
Khubani Ka Meetha

This weekend, she will present a six-course authentic Hyderabadi pop-up at her Worli home. It is an offering by The Deccan Dining Room, an experimental lunch project launched by her 28-year-old son, Ashwin, late last month.

Chowki style
“It’s a limited edition project that we started based on the feedback we have received from family and friends over the years, who love my mother’s cooking. We plan to continue hosting pop-ups till the year-end and then, if she is up for it, we will venture into delivery too,” he informs. The pop-up is open to 12 guests, who have the option to dine on sofas or enjoying the meal in a traditional Chowki system, dating back to the Nizam rule in the Deccan region, with low tables, mattresses, cushions and bolsters for comfort.

The erstwhile Hyderabadi or Nizami cuisine is supposed to be a spice and meat-rich amalgam of Mughal, Arabic and Turkish cuisines, with influences from native Andhra and Marathwada flavours too. From Luqmi (bite-sized pockets of spiced lamb mince) to Khubani Ka Meetha (a popular Hyderabadi dessert made with dried apricots, cream and custard), the menu offers items served at traditional weddings in Hyderabad. The menu also includes Hyderabadi Marag, a spicy mutton soup best had with Sheermal, a layered bread. “I make all the dishes using traditional techniques. The Sheermal dough does not use any water. I only use ghee, milk and refined flour. I also bring the spices from Hyderabad market. For instance, kebabchini (tailed pepper) which goes into Luqmi and Shikampuri Kebabs, and Hyderabadi red chillies,” she shares.

Biryani tales
Another must-try is Mitra’s Hyderabadi Dum Biryani that packs in raw, marinated chicken with semi-cooked rice and spices, layered and slow-cooked in a copper-bottom vessel. “The marinade is important, and it is applied to the chicken a day prior. What is served as biryani in the city is a misnomer, because meat and rice are cooked separately and then mixed together. That’s not the right way to make biryani,” she asserts.

The menu includes Mirch Ka Salan (curried chilli peppers) and Khatti Dal, along with accompaniments like Tamatar Chutney, tempered with spices, Dahi Ki Chutney, Chicken Pickle and Dondakaya Pachadi, an Andhra-style ivy gourd pickle. End the feast with a serving of Shahi Tukda.

On: November 20, 1 pm to 3.30 pm 
At: Worli (address will be provided on confirmation)
Cost: 2,000 
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