Going up in smoke……and other stories
Growing up in Lucknow there are many unique cooking styles that you come across -”Zameendoz“ (cooking under the earth), “Dum Pukht” (the world famous art of slow cooking) and “Dhungar”(the quick cold smoking of kebabs) are some. Dhungar has always intrigued me as a child first and a culinarian later in life. The world famous Galavat ke kebab would not be as famous without the subtle smokiness of cloves and desi ghee imparted to the fine mince during its resting.
The Burrani raita and the Murgh Awadhi korma are the other two dishes that are significantly heightened in taste post this unique treatment, where “Bujha Koyla” or the almost burnt out coal (to avoid a fire) is topped with ghee and cloves and then the lid is put on allowing the subtle smoky flavors to be absorbed.
The affinity of the Smoky flavor with the lacticity of yoghurt is no secret in the Mewar region of Rajasthan where they make an exquisitely balanced smoked chhaas, absolutely mind blowing. Today it is chemically proven that smoking creates vanilla and clove scented com. As it turns out, Nawab Saadat Ali Khan’s cooks already knew this fact 300 years ago when they made the kebab for the “Toothless Nawab”. Well that’s another story …
Smoked Buttermilk dressing
Thick plain Buttermilk 2 cups
Scallions chopped ½ cup
Onion seeds toasted 1 tsp
Ginger- grated/Juiced 1 tsp
Orange zest 1 tsp
Burning coal 1 pc
Butter and oil 1 tbsp
Seasoning as required
1. Mix all the ingredients except the coal, butter n oil and half the onion seeds in a big bowl.
2. In a small steel bowl add the coal, pour ghee and oil and the onion seeds, and float it on the dressing and cover.
3. Keep aside for 10 minutes, remove the coal bowl, stir and the dressing is ready.
4. Best combined with citrus, radicchio and tomato flavors.