To food connoisseurs and food lovers around the world, Bukhara is a well known brand that specializes in Awadhi and Dum-Pukht cuisines. It has become so popular all over the world that in some places, Indian cuisine is identified by it. I was extremely fortunate to meet the man behind it all, Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi. (For me, a 21 year old foodie+food-writer, this is a huuuuuge deal!) He also gave the world his amazing lineage. His sons went on to set up Grande Cuisines of India and have also branched out around the world with several other restaurant chains; Qureshi Bab Al-Hind is one of them.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Ashfaque Qureshi, son of Imtiaz Qureshi, at the opening of their restaurant Qureshi Bab Al-Hind in Hormuz Grand, Muscat. That lunch was a meal I will never forget – the conversation was bubbling with enthusiasm and love for food and the delectable fare did not disappoint. Ashfaque spoke about food with a deep love for his roots and pride in his father’s success in taking Dum-Pukht beyond the borders of India. I’ve been to Qureshi twice since, and I’ve found that the food just keeps getting better.
A few days back I received a call to attend a food-bloggers meet which was to be held at Qureshi. (My first ever invite to a bloggers meet 😀 )However, even before the meet could take place, I had the opportunity to accompany a colleague to an interview with Imtiaz Qureshi.
We were invited to be part of the Jashn-e-Biryani, a Biryani festival at Qureshi which coincided with the visit of the Masterchef himself to Muscat. Meeting Imtiaz Qureshi was wonderful, to say the least. He spoke fondly of Awadhi cuisine in his deep baritone, about how it was the food of the kings, compared how food was enjoyed back in his day and how it has come to be a whole new experience. He shed light on his journey, shared anecdotes about recipes gone wrong and talked endlessly about his love for his country and his desire for his food to make his country proud. Needless to say, his food has been an ambassador of India to the world for a really long time. In fact, we all have him to thank for keeping the art of Dum Pukht alive.
What really touched me about Masterchef Imtiaz Qureshi is that he has immense pride in the recipes he has created and the line of restaurants he has brought to life, yet he so humbly looks after his guests while they enjoy the entire Qureshi experience. During lunch, he sat down with us, coaxed us to eat while the food was still hot and made sure that we ate until we couldn’t move. Such is the kind of hospitality you will receive at Qureshi Bab Al-Hind.
For the first course, we were served a kebab platter of Awadhi Fish, Spicy Prawn and a Lamb Galouti Kebab served with mint chutney and some sweet relish. The fish was mildly spiced, perfectly cooked and simply succulent. The prawn was seasoned beautifully, soft and mushy and spicy all at once. The Galouti Kebab was so delicious, I wanted to ask for a repeat! It was crumbly, creamy, tangy and spicy – exactly the way I love it! Interesting fact – when I met Ashfaque Qureshi for the first time, he told us that the Galouti Kebab at Qureshi is made with a blend of 78 spices!
Then came the Biryanis! I truly believe that when you’re in doubt about what to eat, you should always opt for Biryani – a good Biryani will surely leave you content! We were served three Biryanis – Kacchi Ghosht Biryani, Chicken Biryani and Zeer-E-Multan Biryani. The Kacchi Ghosht Biryani is a lamb biryani flavoured with aromatic herbs, mint and the flavour of the yoghurt marinade. The meat was soft and not too heavy and the mild subtle spices did a splendid dance on my taste buds. The Chicken Biryani had me bowled over! (My mouth is watering now 😦 ) But the Zeer-E-Multan Biryani took the show. It was a Biryani cooked with Portobello mushrooms, Button mushrooms and Truffles. Oh my, it felt like a delicacy sent down from the heavens! *Drooooolll* (Sorry, I didn’t click pictures, I was too busy eating!)
Then came my favourite part of every meal – Dessert! We were served Gajar ka Halwa (an Indian sweet made with grated carrots, clarified butter and dried fruits) and Kheer (an Indian sweet made with milk and rice, flavoured with cardamom, saffron and garnished with dried fruits) with Berries and compote! This dessert platter was awesome – the Kheer was not too sweet, the Gajar Ka Halwa was crunchy and yummm and the berries cut through the sweetness and brought forth their signature tang.
In all, it was another beautiful experience at Quresh Bab Al-Hind. The ambience was breath-taking, the food lip-smacking and the company, amazing. If you love Biryani as much as I do, go check out the Jashn-e-Biryani at Qureshi. The festival ends on April 30, 2015. And if you wish to have some delicious Indian food with a home-cooked air to it, Qureshi Bab Al-Hind is the place to visit.