Wonder What A Meal For King Looks Like? Check Out Village Degh!

    8.7K  Views
    Available Online

    Mughlai food or what is pitched as royal cuisine has reached a place where it's identity has become muddled. Every nook and corner has an enterprise serving this cuisine and between all the pungency, overload of masalas and standard curry bases, there are times you wonder what it is that you're actually eating? Then comes a kitchen that redefines everything you have ever known about royal cuisines, be it Awadhi or Mughlai, the blurred lines suddenly start becoming clearer, every dish has a unique identity, aroma and even colour. This particular kitchen belongs to Osama Jalali, food writer and keeper of heirloom recipes, from his travels across the border to his hometown of Rampur, his menu is exactly what the royals ate, even generations ago. What sets Village Degh apart isn't just the ingredients or heritage recipes, it's processes, potlis of hand picked spices, masala pastes ground on a 'silbatta', every dish cooked over a coal flame, where the art lies in managing the heat to allow slow cooking of meats and vegetables. The all natural saga doesn't end there, the food is delivered in earthenware 'matkas', set in a wooden crate and wrapped in muslin, I would imagine this is how families shared food back in the day. So apart from the overwhelming culinary experience that is Village Degh, it is also a peek into the princely kitchens of yore.

    The menu is precise but extremely nuanced, no two dishes share a masala blend and since the emphasis is on fresh, authentic and beautifully aromatic food, the spices aren't for heat but for aroma and flavour only, that way you get to taste the actual flavour of the meat or vegetables. For those of you who enjoy mutton, as we do, the options are stellar, Shahajahanabad Nalli Nihari, though Nihari doesn't need an introduction, this particular one is exceptional, from the cuts of meat to the fact that they make two spice blends for the Nihari, one for the base and one for the fragrance. Then there is Faridkot Meat Curry, Beramkhan Dal Gosht and Filmistan Hari Mirch Keema, since we've tried each one of these, it's hard to pick a favourite so I suggest you try them all too, the Dal Gosht however needs a special mention because no one in this city has ever gotten it right. The Keema is definitely hand ground giving it a girth that hold the masala in each bite, with this quality of Keema, you can only imagine how good the Mirzapuri Shammi Kebab must be, pair that with the Dal Langar and Chitte Chawal and that in itself is a meal fit for kings. If you prefer chicken, then the Attari Chicken Curry is all the way from the Frontier, a cuisine we have never been able to do justice to, up till now or you can try the Rampuri Chicken Kofte, which don't melt in the mouth because they shouldn't, that's not how a good kofta ought to be, there has to be a slight bite to it, so you know you're eating chicken. If a vegetarian dish is a must on the table, then there is the Ranikhet Paneer Curry, a rich gravy that envelopes large cubes of cottage cheese, even the cottage cheese they use is exceptional.

    I've waxed poetic about this meal because it hit many chords, I grew up with family in Lucknow and a childhood friend who hails from the Royal family of Rampur, I have eaten these foods before and then never again, till right about now. Finish the meal with Kadhao Kheer and plan a long nap thereafter. Village Degh now belongs on your speed dial!
      Available Online