Saturday, September 19, 2015

Time Travel to Shahjahanabad at Le Meridien Gurgaon


Jumbish makun, ba-adab, ba-mulaheza hoshiyaar, Zille Ilaahi tashreef laa rahe hain!
Humne ba awaaz e buland farmaya ki Saahib e Alam Osama Jalali tashreef laa rahe hai. Jahanpanah ne Mazhab o millat ki parwaah kiye baghair khud muktaari ka eilaan kar diya hai.

Un ke dastarkhwan ki zeenat aur khumaar mein doobi huyi iss tahreer ko aakhir tak padhiye.Tareekh gawah hai ki is nacheez ki zubaan maazur hai. Waqt ka taqaza hai ke aaj hadd e adab muqarrar nahi, bayaan ho!

Jahan panah ke iqbal ka suraj hamesha chamakta rahe.  Zayke ke Insaaf ke iss muqaddas tarazu ki qasam , ki chunki aaftaab ki raushni duniya ke har goshe ko aalam karti hai. Beherhaal inhe tajposhi se ataa kiya jaaye!

You might think I have gone stark raving mad. But no, I feel like a queen. A minor Mumtaz Mahal. I have just time-travelled to Shahjahanabad and back. Food can have that effect on you. I know in my last post l was rambling on about health food. But if there's something I love more than food it is history and heritage. I love old songs, old buildings and old movies. Yet how detached we have become from our heritage, living in our bell jars.

What is the great Mughal dynasty to us today? The imagery created in some epic movies or the dull leaves of our school history books that failed to make history relevant in our day to day life. I had actually felt ashamed when I read 'The City of Djinns' by William Dalrymple. That a Britisher could have been so passionate about a city we commuted through everyday, often taking it for granted. We drive past the great monuments, often scarring them too. Many of us wouldn't even be able to name the Mughal emperors in the right order. Recently a road in Delhi named after one Mughal emperor was renamed, amid much ado and rather spurious logic.

Yet there is hope. There are people still who hold on to our heritage with a dogged dedication. They are able to peal off the layers of  the past shrouded in mystery and mystique, and replicate it with conviction and convention. They use all their resources and abilities to court tradition, to woo vintage, to document decadence. Osama Jalali is one such name who along with his mother and wife has mesmerised diners to an authentic taste from the Delhi we almost know nothing about-Shahjahanabad.
Fish Shammi
4 tangy chutneys
I visited the Shahjahanabad food promotion at Le Meridien Gurgaon. After a week of disciplined exercise and sensible food, every person deserves a little allowance on weekends. The buffet looked inviting and the beautifully designed A la Carte menu had its own aura.

I sampled some kebabs from the buffet. Surprisingly the vegetable kebabs such as 'Kathal ke Kebab' and 'Mushroom Kebab' stood out amidst non veg ones such as 'Qeeme ki Goli'. What stole the show were 4 enchanting chutneys- Onion, Cranberry with a hint of saunth, mint chutney and an outstanding pineapple chutney.

The chef recommended 'Fish Shammi' that was simply melt in the mouth with a predominant desi ghee aroma.

Delectable kebab starters

Nihari with Sheermal and Khamiri Naan

Next in the main course the person attending to us suggested the classic Nihari with Sheermaal and Khamiri Naan. It was outstanding and tender. I still found myself drifting towards the buffet. Surprisingly none of the buffet dishes tasted like typical buffet dishes. The veg section had very interesting variety such as Chane ki Daal ka Bharta, Maas ki Dal(Dry Urad Dal) and Karele ki Chidiya. Even the ubiquitious potato in Jalali's hand transforms into sublime Aloo ka Bharta. Mughlai Paneer had a smooth white gravy with subtle achari flavours. Masale ki Machhi & Hari Mirch Qeema were particularly good in non-veg.

Amidst all this I really didn't have the heart to try Biryani which I am sure must be good. A very nice vegetarian rice option was Qooboli, rice cooked with lentils. I focussed on relishing the unusual. I have to comment that the vegetarian variety and taste exceeded my expectations.  

Gosht ka Halwa

Aloo ka Zarda

Dessert offered staples such as Shahi Tukda, Aloo ka Zarda and Gulathi. But the most stunning dish was believe it or not, 'Gosht ka Halwa'. If not told in advance you can never guess that this smooth dessert garnished with fine pistachios is indeed a non-veg preparation. Very rich and lavish, I could have a few spoonfuls but a must try.


I came back feeling pampered and indulged to the core, even if a tad bit guilty. Had a warm cup of green tea at home and promptly set my alarm for a 6 am trip to the gym. It was a unique experience, royal to the core and decadent. Do drop in at Le Meridien tomorrow if you can for a date with Dilli 6. That will be all.



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