Jazeera Hospitality launches Mughlai cuisine restaurants in India
New Delhi, 27th September 2013: Jazeera Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., today launched a chain of fine dining authentic Mughlai cuisine restaurants that revisit the Mughal era and brings across the culinary opulence of the period for people in Delhi and NCR to savour. The brand launch was attended by renowned film personalities Raza Murad, Kirron Kher and starlet Huma Qureshi who has been appointed as Jazeera’s brand ambassador. Later in the day, renowned politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats and celebrities including Jagdish Tytler, Yoganand Shastri and Anand Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, graced the launch party.
Jazeera, which literally means an island, shall be the final destination when it comes to authentic vegetarian and non-vegetarian Mughlai cuisine. It is an introduction of the connoisseurship which the Mughal era lent itself for centuries in India under the royal patronage. Jazeera traces the ‘Dastarkhwan’ (dining tables) of the seven Mughal emperors who ruled India from 1483 -1858. This chain of restaurants, first of its kind, is an interesting story of how Mughal cuisine evolved from central Asian blandness to Indian richness, of how the two cultures and religions intermingled seamlessly and how a dynasty from a foreign land became so very Indian.
According to M. Zahid, Chairman & Managing Director, Jazeera Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., “The recipes have been derived from ancient manuscripts – the Akbarnama, Ain-i-Akbari, Alwan-e-Nemat, Rukat-e-Alamgiri and Ni’amatnamah which detail the culinary preferences of the Mughal emperors. As per these manuscripts, gold and silver pellets were fed to the chickens, goats and sheep so that their medical properties are passed on to those relishing the cuisine. They were specially reared for the royal table. And as Akbar was vegetarian three times a week, he had his own kitchen garden wherein vegetables were sprinkled with rosewater such that they possess fragrance when cooked. Taking a cue from this, Jazeera has done backward integration and established its own livestock breeding facilities and vegetation fields. Livestock are fed with enriched food products and vegetables are indeed sprinkled with rosewater for enhancing the taste and health benefits. Not to forget the ingredients and garnishing which would be as exotic as in those times so that the exquisiteness is not lost in any way, form or manner. The taste is bound to stay on and make people come back.”
Besides the renaissance of the long-forgotten culinary techniques of the Mughal kitchens by expert chefs, even the ambience of the outlets shall portray the life and times of Mughal dynasty. In the first phase, Jazeera is coming up with ten restaurants – three in Delhi; one each in satellite towns Noida and Gurgaon; Meerut, Lucknow, Agra, Jaipur and Chandigarh. In the second phase, Jazeera Hospitality shall be increasing the count in Delhi & NCR besides opening branches in Mumbai and select cities of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. “A few years down the line, our target is to come up with 100 branches. This may sound a little audacious as of now, however I believe it is achievable. Initially, the focus shall be on North India but eventually we shall make a foray in other regions and international market as well,” adds M. Zahid.
Raza Murad was of the view that authenticity is a rarity in the highly commercial times that we live in and Jazeera’s effors to revive the Mughal splendor are commendable.
Mughals have had a great influence on Indian cooking. For example, the Persian Pulao met the spicy pungent rice dishes of India to become the classic Mughlai Biryani. In fact, food was such a serious aspect that Mughals has a Minister of Kitchens which directly reported to the Prime Minister. Failure led to death penalty. The Kitchen Minister had an army of chefs from as far as Persia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other central Asian countries; tasters and other sundry staff besides his own budget and accounts. Not to forget that there was a special officer for ‘paan’ as well! Ice was ferried from mountains daily to keep the sherbets cool. Imperial kitchens were run like state departments. When a dish got approved by the emperor, it earned an appropriate designation – shahjahani, alamgiri, akbari or shahi. The hakim or the royal physician planned the menu as per medicinal benefits of the ingredients. For instance, each grain of rice for the biryani was coated with silver oil, which aided digestion and had aphrodisiacal properties. Emperor’s gastronomic delight was a top priority. It is the same delight that Jazeera now brings in for you with all the seriousness that went in to achieve what the emperors desired.