“Yeh Rampoori hai bacchey, jara si bhi hoshiyari dikhayee to pura andar daal dunga”! This reminds you of something – right… Yes folks this used to be the most flaunted dialogues of Bollywood villains. But Rampuri happens to be one of the most delectable cuisine of UP. The taste of this Uttar Pradesh town, Rampur leaves people surprised.
Café on 3, Holiday Inn, Mayur Vihar, Delhi recently showcased the famous Rampuri cuisine as part of their weekly food festivals. For non-vegetarians this festival was a delight all the way, but we, the famous vegetarians on Delhi’s food map also didn’t come back home hungry either.
Being so close to Delhi and Lucknow, Rampuri cuisine has always been overshadowed. This lesser known culinary delights of the princely state of Rampur normally find exposure only at occasional food festivals at hotels, like the one at Holiday Inn. We heard about this through the management at the hotel, and were happy to have visited the hotel and sampled this almost forgotten cuisine.
Though just like Awadhi cuisine, Rampur cuisine is also historically the food of the Mughals, but there is a difference in the use of spices and other ingredients. Rampuri cuisine does not use lots of ingredients like kevda, ittar or rose water and instead of fine powdered spices, only raw whole spices or Khada masala are used. Onion is one of the most basic ingredients of this cuisine, and is used in form of raw onion paste, golden onion, etc.
Unusual vegetables like doodhi, lotus stem, jackfruit, figs, pineapple khus roots, dal chini and even amla are used while preparing a meal. Traditionally ghee is used in plentiful and the food is cooked in a slow and laborious process in clay pots.
Rampuri is a meat-intensive cuisine with the major thrust on mutton. But we also see a fair amount of chicken and seafood too in the meals which are eaten with breads like Fitri, Rampuri Naan and Sheermal.
Vegetarians do not lose heart – they do have quite a few preparations with vegetables too. Desserts too, are an important part of Rampuri cuisine; halwas made with unusual ingredients like Adrak, chukander and anda are very common.
While at Café on 3, we feasted on some mouth watering dishes prepared by the in-house chefs and also by a home-chef who was specially called in for the festival.
We started with starters which included Arbi Pakora and Palak Pakoras; both were mild in term of spiciness and well prepared. Palak pakoras were quite crunchy and were made with small amounts of besan. We also tried Dahi Batasha, and this was the starter of the day for me. A second serving was immediately called for.
For my non-veggie colleagues on the table, it was a feast – as they enjoyed exotic Kacche Ghost ki Tikki and Rampuri Fried Fish.
Coming to the main course, we relished Achari Baingan (eggplant cooked with spices), Aloo Katliyan (Slice potatoes cooked with spices), Ghiya Chane ki Dal (Lentil cooked with Bottle Gourd), Khush Urad ki Dal (Dry lentils cooked with spices) along with Indian breads like Naan, and paranthas. We ended up our meals with roasted Papads.
The low dose of spices enhanced the natural flavor of the vegetables and pulses and had done wonders with the taste.
To end up our meal we loved the sweetened rice preparation, Zarda (with dried fruits flavoured with cardamon). This surely was the Nawab of todays dinner for us.
Time for Sweets and we loved the amazing Adrak ki Kheer, and also the Gulhati Kheer. The kheer made with Adrak (ginger) was just too good, and I had to go in for a second serving.
The Adrak ki Kheer tantalized my taste buds by its thick texture and the strong flavor of Adrak. I loved this unique combination of thickened milk and ginger. Also the Gulhati Kheer; a rabri textured Kheer enriched with extra generous amount of ground dry fruits and roasted in dollop of Ghee was again one of the yummiest of the kheer tasted ever.
My non-veggie friends feasted on Shaljan gosht (mutton cooked with Turnip and spices), Methi Fish curry (Fish cooked with Fenugreek leaves in Rampuri style), and Murgh Dum Biryani (chicken cooked with rice and aromatic spices).
Well, folks the festival is over by the time you will be reading this review. But don’t be disheartened – Café n 3 at Holiday Inn keeps on doing such food festivals on a weekly basis and I am sure you will be there to feast in the coming weeks.