A lot about the Bohri cuisine

images50Minal Khona reviews the Raddison Blu, Hyderabad’s Bohri Food Festival

While Muslim food has its own unique taste, it differs from region to region. The Lucknowi kababs differ from the Lebanese ones as does the Hyderabadi biryani from its Kerala counterpart. One community among Muslims, the trader community that comprises largely of Bohri Muslims has its own way of cooking, serving and eating food which is quite different from other Muslim cuisines.

Firstly, in the ingredients itself, there is a lot of variation. They use a lot of milk, condensed milk, macaroni, cheese and flour which one wouldn’t traditionally associate with main course dishes. Not very spicy, their food also has a lot of cashewnuts and pure ghee and the food is usually served in a platter, where several people eat out of it at one time. Also, they start their meal with something salty, then move on to something sweet, then go to the main course.

Chef Abdul Hameed, who comes from a family of chefs who cook exclusively for the Bohri community occasions in Mumbai was flown down by the Radisson Hotel to prepare the extensive dishes on the menu. Completely authentic, what was refreshing was that he did not tweak any of the dishes to suit local palates.

The soup I sampled was Sarka – a lentil broth, mildly flavoured and creamy in texture. The mutton cutless (that is how they spell and pronounce it, it is not a typo) was a patty of mutton cooked with various spices and crispy in texture. You could actually taste the mutton among the other ingredients.  The Gosht Baida Roti was a fluffy paratha stuffed with mutton and egg, again mildly spiced.

iamges48 images49images54 IAMGES53 images52 images51In the main course dishes, there was a creamy Baingan ka Bhartha which to my surprise was served cold. It doesn’t look anything like the traditional bhartha as it is cooked in yoghurt and with few spices without the tomato base. The Mutton biryani however, was undoubtedly the best dish of the lot. It was mildly spiced unlike its Hyderabadi counterpart, but still extremely tasty. The mutton had been cooked to perfection, even though Bohri cuisine does not believe in long marination of its meats. Individual tastes and flavours were easily identified and I must say, a very worthy option for those who can’t take too much chilli.

Desserts, my favourite part of the meal always deserve special mention. As said earlier, the emphasis on cream and condensed milk is stronger and the malpua was served with both these rich accompaniments. Usually, a malpua is served dunked in sugar syrup. The condensed milk and cream make it extremely rich and give the malpua an even more sinful appeal. Then there was the traditional Khajur ka halwa which has to be the tastiest dish prepared from dates. Crunchy, perfectly cooked and not too sweet, it just melted in the mouth.

I would say, if you do go for a Bohri food festival or attend a Bohri wedding, skip everything but the biryani and the desserts.