People have started wasting so much food these days, lamented Mohd. Usman, fondly known as Usman Bhai in Lucknow, when I asked him about the new experimental Mughlai foods. People want more variety so we have to cater to it but no one values food like the good old times when only 3 dishes (known as teen khana) were served for wedding feasts and that was Korma, Sheermal and Biryani. The well to do hosts served 5 dishes which was called as panch khana (five course meal), including the kababs and paratha too, which was considered as the highest limit for the commoners. Now there are hundreds of dishes served in a wedding party and there is so much wastage of food that is criminal, he rued.
Usman Bhai's words ring a bell. We are living in the age of illusionary abundance and we want more. The five dishes he talks about are seeped with the culinary tradition and the flavours embrace you in their comfort like a grandmother, a 13 course meal somehow fails in bringing that comfort zone.
Chef Moh. Usman is the grandson of the legendary Tunday Kababi and is currently in Delhi sharing his food legacy. Tunday's Galawat ke kabab are such a genius that we have been revisiting every time we are in Lucknow but when it comes to Delhi we can't afford to miss it. The spice blends are guarded and the myth is that they use 120 spices in it. Go figure.
It is at JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity where he is currently hosting the Tunday Kababi Festival at K3, the multi cuisine restaurant. We joined him for dinner last Friday and had our fill of Galawat ke kababs, Ulte tawe ke paranthe, Biryani, Paya Shorba and Nihari.
When I saw Usman Bhai scooping out the mutton mince mix for galwat ke kabab and casually patting it over the mahi tawa using his bare fingers, just like he does at his own place, I knew we are getting transported to Lucknow for a while. The Kababs tasted better than their own place I must add, it might be a case of better ambiance but the silken texture of the kabab held more flavours that day.
The Biryani was exactly the same flavour wise, the same aromatic subtle spicing, each grain of rice replete with the flavour of meat and the meat tender enough to become one with rice in a mouthful. Although the quality of rice was different at the hotel but it didn't make much difference to the flavours that we enjoy at the Tunday's Lucknow.
The Paya Shorba was rustic and unpretentious as it should be, the healthy concoction that it is. The Nihari too revived the taste of Lucknow, the ulte tawe ka paratha was made smaller but the right technique of making it was evident.
The specialties from Tunday's are available as a buffet spread for just a few more days, till Feb 26th so you can go and taste the authentic flavours of the famed Tunday clan. It is worth the commute to the Aerocity I must add, as its not everyday that you get to interact with a legend who wants to stick to those panch khana and keep whipping these all his life.