The Nizam, Murghals and Shikaras – A Culinary Tour Of India (13n/14d)

For a taste of India this tour offers a number of culinary delights

For a taste of India this tour offers a number of culinary delights

On this tour we will experience some of the finest restaurants, stay at some of the finest hotels and experience the most exotic sights and the smells of the spices and delightful foods. Cultural visits, cooking talks and demos, visits to spice markets, boat ride (Shikara) on the Dal lake and catch your own trout fish in the serene streams of Kashmir. This tour offers not only culinary and cultural highlights but also fest to keen photographers.

Day 1 – 3: Arrival in Mumbai, general sightseeing, dining at some specially selected restaurants and a unique cooking class demonstration.

Day 4 – 6: We depart Mumbai for Hyderabad, visiting Charminar and Selarjung Museums, dining is an array of fine restaraunts, partake in cooking classes, visit the local markets and take a look at the famous Golkonda Fort

Day 7 – 9: Today we leave Hyderabad for Delhi where we visit the Spice Markets and try out one of Delhi’s finest dining establishments, we head out overnight to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort and then return to Delhi

Day 10 – 14:  Leaving Delhi for Srinagar we take some free time, visit the Mughal Gardens and enjoy a Shikara ride on Lake Dal, we visit the housboats and experience the famous Wazwan Cuisine – history, preperation and dining. We learn to cook the famed Rainbow Trout that we will catch ourselves in the streams around Srinagar, and then return to Delhi for our flight home.

Mughlai cuisine is a style of cooking developed in the Indian subcontinent by the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire. It represents the cooking styles used in North India (especially Uttar Pradesh and Delhi) and Pakistan as well as in parts of Dhaka in Bangladesh and the Indian city of Hyderabad. The cuisine is strongly influenced by the Muslim Persian and Turkic cuisines of West and Central Asia, and has in turn strongly influenced the regional cuisines of Kashmir and the Punjab region.

The tastes of Mughlai cuisine vary from extremely mild to spicy, and is often associated with a distinctive aroma and the taste of ground and whole spices. A Mughlai course is an elaborate buffet of main course dishes with a variety of accompaniments.

Hyderabadi Cuisine – A 400-year history is behind the culinary delights of Hyderabadi food. It evolved in the kitchens of the Nizams, who elevated food to a sublime art form. Hyderabad cuisine is highly influenced by Mughals and partially by Arabic, Turkish and Irani food where rice, wheat and spices are widely used to great effect. It is also influenced by the native Telugu and Marathwada food, bringing in a unique taste to the dishes.

In the past, the food was called Ghizaayat. The cuisine is linked to the nobles, who religiously maintain the authenticity of the past, and the recipes are a closely guarded secret. The royal cooks are known as Khansamas, highly regarded by the nobles. Shahi Dastarkhan is the dining place, where food is served and eaten. A chowki is a low table, instead of a dining table and cotton mattresses for squatting and bolsters for the back rest. The Dastarkhan is revered in the noble household.

The herbs and spices used in the dish as well as the method of preparation gives the dish its name. For example, Murgh do Pyaaza is named so because Onion (‘Pyaaz’) is added to the dish twice, in different variations.

On Formal occasions, the food is garnished with warq (a very fine, pure silver leaf created by prolonged hammering and flattening of a small piece of silver).

Kashmiri Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. Almost all the dishes are meat-based (lamb, chicken, fish). It is popular throughout Kashmir and served internationally at Kashmiri food festivals.

Nilmatapurana informs us that Kashmiris were heavy meat eaters. The precise origin of the Wazwan word is likely from Sanskrit. In Sanskrit vyajjana, means related to cooking while the Kashmiri Van (surely originating from Sanskrit Vania) means shop. The word Van surely seems to be a tight fit. The descendants of these cooks, the Wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir. The ultimate formal banquet in Kashmir is the royal Wazwan. Of its thirty-six courses, between fifteen and thirty can be preparations of meat, cooked overnight by the master chef, Vasta Waza, and his retinue of wazas.

Guests are seated in groups of four and share the meal out of a large metal plate called the trami. The meal begins with invoking the name of Allah and a ritual washing of hands in a basin called the Tash-t-nari, which is taken around by attendants. Then the tramis arrive, heaped with rice, quartered by two seekh kababs and contains four pieces of methi korma, two tabak maaz, one safed murg, one zafrani murg, and the first few courses. Yogurt and chutney are served separately in small earthen pots. As each trami is completed, it is removed, and a new one brought in, until the dinner has run its course. Seven dishes are a must for these occasions — tabakh maaz, rista, rogan josh, daniwal korma, aab gosht, marchwangan korma and gushtaba. The meal ends with the Gushtaba. Nowadays the count for serving the dishes has reached 40.

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