Begum Manzilat Fatima, the great great granddaughter of Wajid Ali Shah, started her cozy Awadhi rooftop dining at Manzilat’s in Kolkata in 2018. Therefore, I was extremely thrilled with a sense of pride to try delicacies from the royal kitchen.
When Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh (Oudh), was dethroned in 1856 by British Empire, he packed off and landed at Metiyaburj, about four miles south Calcutta. Furthermore, the ousted king was joined by his khansamah (royal chefs). The nawab had Bhojpuri, Mughal, Hyderabadi, and Kashmiri khansamah in his kitchen.
Awadhi vs Mughlai
Do you know that Awadhi cuisine is influenced by Mughlai cuisine? However, both are not the same. Besides, both cuisines are quite distinct from each other. The crux of Awadhi cooking is dum-style slow cooking that leverages the natural flavors and aroma of the food with minimal spices.
A huge number from our family clan infested the cozy rooftop of Manzilat’s to enjoy Awadhi delicacies. Despite this, Manzilat Fatima welcomed us with a smiling face even though under deliverable pressure and short-staffed. We all settled at our favorite table on the rooftop, overlooking the Kasba industrial area. We intended to try everything from starters to biryani to gravies and desserts. So, let us start our food wagon journey.
Mutton Chatpata Handi Kebab
In starters, we commenced with Mutton Chatpata Handi Kebab. Evidently crumbled mutton seekh kebab delicately spiced and cooked in a pot with onion, tomatoes, and green chili. Freshly chopped coriander leaves topping adds a punch to its flavor.
Mutton Awadhi Galawti Kabab
Mutton Awadhi Galawti Kabab, made from a mix of juicy minced mutton, finely blended with a bouquet of herbs and spices, and griddle with desi ghee. Besides, garnished with onion rings and split green chilies. Surely try this aromatic and delicate kebab with paper-thin and crispy Ulta Tawa Paratha. Also, as a welcome drink during summer, Manzilat Fatima offers her guest chilled kush sharbat.
Galawati has first introduced by the royal cooks of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula during the end of the 18th century. As far as I know, the couch potato nawab lost his dentures and demanded kabab that does not need chewing Besides has to be exquisite.
Mutton Majlisis Pasanda Kabab
Mutton Majlisis Pasanda Kabab, soft textured shredded mutton wrapped in a thick consistent creamy gravy. However, the magic of smokiness from Bandel cheese and punch from ginger slices makes it a complex flavor to decipher. Of course, try the kabab with Ulta Tawa Paratha.
Chicken Lazeez Shami Kabab
Chicken Lazeez Shami Kabab is a patty-style kabab where minced chicken combined with chana dal, spices, and shallow fried on tawa. Evidently, it is an integral part of the Eid celebration. Unlike galawati kabab, this needs to be chewed to enjoy the fullest.
In the main course, Manzilat’s showstopper was the Kalkatta Shahi Mutton Biryani. Biryani got long-grained basmati rice with the trademark potato sitting atop, and mutton pieces peep through the rice. The meat was soft as ever, succulent, and full of flavors. Consequently, Manzilat Fatima cooks her biryani with mustard oil to keep it non-greasy and light, but it is moist. Therefore, one may find this mild if compared to its commercial counterparts available all over town. It was served with a decent portion of Burhani, coriander-based raita seasoned with cumin and other spices.
Do you know that Nawab Wajid Ali Shah asked his khansamah to introduce potatoes to the biryani because of its exotic value? The Portuguese introduced it in the market as a new vegetable.
Mutton Shahi Rezala
Mutton Shahi Rezala, bony mutton pieces marinade in yogurt and curried with cashew and poppy seed paste with Indian spices to prepare a luscious creamy white gravy. As a result, there was mild pungent sweetness in the dish coming from the onions. The gravy was thicker than a stew and is flavored with several spices. Tempered with dry red chilies and makhana (fox nut). It’s a revelation!
Mutton Begum Qorma
Mutton Begum Qorma is a rich, thick gravy of slow-cooked meat in brown onions, nuts, spices, yogurt, and aromatic essences like saffron and kewda (screw pine). Moreover, yogurt gives a beautiful velvety base, and ground brown onions give texture. Additionally, gentle spices with nuts give richness to this exceptional korma recipe. Further, topped with grated almonds for a nutty texture to your bite.
Mutton Nawabi Chaanp
Mutton Nawabi Chaanp is prepared with mutton ribs (chops) with chunky succulent meat slow-cooked with exotic spices with a delightful undertone of kewra water. One can enjoy mutton gravies with Dosti Roti.
Halwa & Kheer
Time to move to desserts with Shahi Halwa. Semolina (suji) is continuously stirred over low flame with clarified butter to give the creamy texture. Also, toping of nuts and edible silver is indeed a royal affair.
Finally, it is time for the Shahi Kheer. Creamy and aromatic rice kheer or Indian Rice Pudding is made with basic ingredients and is the quintessential Indian dessert that every Indian grows up eating. Flavored with cardamom, nuts & rose water, topped with dried rose petals and edible silver foil. It’s the best way to finish off an Indian meal.
Haleem, a seasonal dish available only during the Ramzan months. It is made with an amalgamation of two preparations. For example, a mix of lentils and broken wheat (daliya) is cooked with paya (mutton trotters) till it is a creamy paste with flavors from the bone marrow stock. Also, mutton korma is prepared with a melange of spices till the meat falls off the bone. Korma is mixed with creamy paste to give a mushy texture.
Personally, to amp up the flavor, I prefer to sprinkle some sweet caramelized birista, fresh ginger shreds and squeeze a dash of lemon on the top. Moreover, those who love it a bit more spicy, finely diced green chilies shall tickle your taste buds.
Kalkatta Nahari, a slow-cooked mutton stew with a delicious amalgamation of spices. Well-cooked mutton shanks fall off from the bone with the slightest effort and exposing the gooey bone marrow. In my experience, enjoy the stew by squeezing a few drops of lime juice on it. One can feel the traces of fresh ginger in your mouth.
Importantly, relish nihari with crispy, hot, and straight from wok flaky Dal Puri. Besides, nihari is available during winter. Personally, I enjoy the winter sun on the rooftop and wash it down with Kashmiri Chai (pink tea).
The Arabic word Nahar means Nihari. It indicates means a dish for the morning.
Sewai Ka Muzaffar
Sewai Ka Muzaffar is the latest addition to the menu. In particular, it is a new addition during Eid. Delicately thin sewai (vermicelli) roasted in desi ghee and slow-cooked in sugar syrup with blanched almonds, dry fruits, and khoya (milk solids). Undoubtedly, once the syrup is soaked up, it’s full of sweetness and calories too. Now, who cares about calories during festivals.
I know Manzilat Fatima for some time now, and the way she reciprocates her warmth through her conversations and hospitality as if I know her for ages. No wonder how this pure soul wands magic inside her cozy kitchen. Many look at her for her royal lineage from the family of Wajid Ali Shah, but for me, at first, she is always a wonderful home chef and an entrepreneur, which defines her primary identity.
Kindly ensure to call her in advance to place your order and book your spot as she has a limited place.
Mutton Awadhi Galawti Kabab, Ulta Tawa Paratha, Kalkatta Shahi Mutton Biryani, Mutton Shahi Rezala, Kalkatta Nahari, Haleem, Sewai Ka Muzaffar, and Shahi Halwa
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