Unwind over Rampuri delicacies @ Rampur Kitchen, New Friends Colony.

After a hiatus, I present itiriti readers a place tucked away on the first floor of the India Mall, New Friends Colony Community Centre which I want to rename as a paradise of kebabs. For all those in Delhi, and for all of us who love kebabs, our share of  succulent mutton pieces in an aromatic gravy, time to settle for Rampur Kitchen, New Friends Colony community Centre. Last year, I was introduced to this place by Vi and Sa. Four of us trekked down to New Friend’s Colony, a place etched in my memory since college days for serving the best Shawarma (Al Bake) for Rs 20. The place has a neat, comfortable seating arrangement for a leisurely meal for family dinners, and quiet lunch and dinners as well.

“Rampur kitchen”, true to its name offers some of the prized dishes from Rampur. Where is Rampur? Not far away from Delhi it boasts of a royal past which cascades into its cuisine and it is a place known for the knives, as a centre for arts and academics, distilleries and much more. Anoothi Vishal in a piece “Royal Rampuri cuisine, a blend of Delhi’s Mughlai tradition and Avadhi food” (The Economic Times, 3 November 2013)1  points out that this court cuisine is a melting pot of Mughlai, Afghani, Avadhi and Rajput influence after it became a stable princely state when the Nawab sided with the British following the revolt of 1857. Rampuri cuisine, Anoothi Vishal points out is known for taar qorma, shambhal ke sheekh, home style urad gosht and lauki gosht.

In my introductory visit to Rampur kitchen Sa convinced me to order qorma. Dreading the overpowering smell of spices and the rich thick gravy that one associates with qorma, I decided to skip it. Sa ordered the qorma and when it arrived I polished it almost half of the qorma. Taar qorma a speciality of the region can be eaten when the weatherboards read 48 degree Celsius. The succulent mutton chunks in a nice rich gravy with a right amount of bite and balance of texture without an overpowering smell of the garam masala has become rare even in specialty restaurants. Taar qorma remains a favourite from the first visit and I never get tired of eating this dish. I would recommend you to order half a plate of taar qorma and I assure you will fall in love with it as much as I have.

What about starters? Hang on! There are ample choices. For kebab fanatics there is a wonderful chapli kebab. You can get an imagined sensual treat from Anoothi’s article, but you have to taste the chapli kebab with the slightly spiced mint dip. Kakori kebab tastes heavenly and galauti melts in your mouth. My favourites and recommendations for starters would remain galauti kebab rolls. The star of this roll/ wrap is the ulte tawa ki paratha which is sweet in texture and complements the mildly spiced galauti kebab which true to its fame melts in your mouth. The wrap is a mouthful of spices and the creamy light green dip adds the perfect kick start to your meal. The best part of the Rampuri food is the right balance of spices and the treatment of the spices and Rampuri kitchen lives up to that in its treatment of spices and texture.

Thankfully, neither the gravies nor the dips look or taste the same. Each of the dishes evokes a confluence of cultures and synthesis of varied culinary traditions which is a product of people’s mobility. The best food emerges as a confluence of traditions and Rampuri cuisine’s attraction lies in its ability to embrace varied traditions. This, in a way urges us to rethink of culinary traditions as torchbearers of our identity politics and instead treat it as a melting pot of varied cultures.

  1. For details visit Vishal, Anoothi.2013. “Royal Rampuri cuisine, a blend of Delhi’s Mughlai tradition and Avadhi food” The Economic Times, 3 November 2013. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-11-03/news/43611823_1_cuisine-taar-qorma; Accessed on 9 June 2014.

Cost for two: 2 starters, one main course and rotis ( 900 INR)

For address and menu visit

http://www.zomato.com/ncr/rampur-kitchen-new-friends-colony-delhi; Accessed on 9 June 2014.

 

©itiriti

Tasting cultures along the Indian coastline

K and I on our way back from a play on a bright Saturday afternoon stumbled into a bookshop. As soon as I entered the bookshop I quietly escaped into the travelogue section and started flipping through the pages of “Following Fish”. True to the title, the author Samanth Subramanian follows the fish across the Indian coast and takes you on a tour from Bengal to Gujarat.  Each chapter is devoted to the ways in which fish is much more about gastronomic delight. While it is as much about taste of fish, it is also about tasting cultures. This is why I would recommend this book to every readers of this blog. You don’t have to eat fish to love this book; you have to be curious about tasting cultures that dot the Indian coastline to enjoy this book.

The trail of fish begins with Bengal – and its most prized fish – Hilsa with a subtle indication of how this fish is much more than food. It is also about identity of East Bengal and West Bengal. Samanth Subramanian takes us through a whirlwind tour of the various fish markets of Kolkata before stopping and stumbling on the Ganga Hilsa. The author’s self reflexive account makes the book an interesting read. This is particularly so in the second chapter that documents the Bathini Goud’s festivities on thrusting live fish with secret medicine – a treatment for asthma that has become part of the state calendar in Hyderabad as it attracts thousands of people who come for this treatment.The chapter documents the medical treatment that is offered to thousands for free amidst belief and scepticism.  Each of the chapter seamlessly weaves in local history, politics into the making and survival of cuisine. Samanth Subramaniam takes us through the world of Tuticorn to discuss in detail the history of conversion, the tension between the church and chieftain to tell us how Tuticorn, despite being the strong Portuguese stronghold  retained their distinct cuisine.  The gem dish of the region is Fish Podi- dried fish powder which is eaten with rice and dollops of ghee. The spicy trail of fish has just begin as  the author takes us through the  Kerala’s toddy shops and their treatment of fish and I already have my eyes set on the Alleppey shop mentioned in the book in my next visit to Kerala, followed by the stunning revelation of the President of the Managlore Fishermen’s Cooperative,  Secretary of National Fish Workers Federation and of the Coastal Karnataka Fishermen Action Committee that he does not eat fish as the author is treated to the Mangalore fish curry in his house. The author then winds off his fishing trail through his accounts on angling, and his accounts of fishermen in Goa who has taken to other professions because of depleting fishes in Goa’s coastline due to overfishing. The author then takes us to the hustle bustle of the Sassoon Dock in Bombay with his guide Yeshi followed by a stopover at the shrine of Mumbadevi Temple in Zaveri Bazaar to a nice hot meal of fish curry at Anantashram ( one of the remaining khanawals) , a peep into the culinary affair in a Koli household and finally taking us through the markers of Gomanatak and Malvani cuisine. The final chapter stops with the crafting of fishing boats in Gujarat- which supplies much of the fish that finds its way to fish markets across India and in our kitchens and is also renowned for crafting fishing boats.

The book manages to unravel the history, geography of “fish” beyond its gastronomic qualities which makes it an interesting read.

Book Review: Subramaniam, Samanth. 2010. Following Fish: Travels around the Indian Coast. New Delhi: Penguin Books.

©itiriti