Nepal | May 20, 2019

Take away Tasneem

Dubby Bhagat

Kathmandu:

I’ve shifted home to a place near Hermans Bakery and a number of cafes and nearer my trusty research assistant Rajan Maharjan’s home — so fact finding is easy.

One such fact we discovered was on the notice board at Hermans (about whom a whole article later) and that was that someone called Tasneem was cooking Bori food from India for parties.

Here’s what her notice says, ‘Tasneem’s Indian cuisine is an effort of an Indian housewife to offer discerning gourmets a chance of a relish few delicacies.

‘The fare prepared from recipes passed down the family tree, offer you chances to taste the great ‘Bori’ Muslim culinary skills, which have tickled the taste buds of royalty and janta alike.Make your entertaining at home a novel experienced by picking and choosing the items from a very select menu.

The menu includes Kasuri Methi Chicken, Chicken in Green masala, Traditional ‘Bori’ Mutton Curry, Mutton Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Bhuna Ghosht, Three Layered Rice, Three Layered Rice and Hot and Sour Potatoes.’

In 50 Great Curries Of India, Camellia Panjabi says, “The Boris are a Muslim trading community originally from Gujarat but now living only in Bombay and a few places in Gujarat like Surat. Their cuisine is well liked by the people of Bombay and certain dishes, like biryani and khichda (a wheat, meat and lentil porridge) are relished by everyone.”

I ordered the Kasuri Methi or Fenugreek Chicken, which turned out to be brilliantly flavoured with a shy sweetness about it. The chicken was tender and the gravy rich with curd and cream and the Kasuri Methi. Of Kasuri Camellia Panjabi says, “Methi is also sold dried, in packets known as kasuri methi. It is quite strong in flavour and only a pinch of it should be used in a dish. The dry methi isn’t the same botanical species as the fresh one.”

We also got in the layered Chicken Biryani, which is a dish, becoming common in Kathmandu but it’s seldom as good as Tasneem’s. Says critic Madhur Jaffrey, “Orange saffron milk is dribbled over the top, thereby colouring some grains yellow while leaving others white, and the dish set to bake in a slow oven. As it cooks, the biryani gets quite perfumed with saffron.”

Tasneem’s Biryani filled the car with saffron smells and I resisted a wild impulse to dive into it. But the few hours wait was worth it. Under the rice was a perfection of spices and a generousness of chicken marinated to perfection. With the Biryani and Kasuri Chicken came this note:

Dear Mr Dubby Bhagat,

Hope you enjoy the food. Please do heat the food before serving. To heat Biryani, place the vessel on hot plate and heat it at medium/low flame. Please don’t heat it directly, as

it will cook the Biryani unevenly. The salt in the Biryani is on the lower side so individuals can add it as per their taste. Kindly advise your guest accordingly.

Bon appetite!

Yours sincerely,

Tasneem Shahani

PS: Call if you need any assistance.

Should you require a feast of truly unusual dishes, ring 5548622.


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