After climbing 4 flooring we attain Manzilat’s. Just a little window by the staircase gives a glimpse of the kitchen, the place by way of smoke and the clang of vessels rises the delicate strains of The Beatles’ as Manzilat Fatima swings and swishes her ladle. As the unassuming picket door to the terrace opens, we’re enveloped within the aroma of kebabs, rezala (an fragrant gravy that additionally contains poppy seeds, cashews and yogurt) , and biryani. Started by Manzilat, the nice nice grand-daughter of Wajid Ali Shah, the final king of Awadh, the six-year-old rooftop restaurant, with its share of historical past and flavour, is certainly one of Kolkata’s culinary gems. Albeit lesser identified when in comparison with outdated favourites Peter Cat, Mocambo et al, it must be in your ‘where to eat in Kolkata list’.
Wajid Ali has by way of the ages been credited for introducing the Awadhi biryani to Calcutta. It was his group of cooks who added the beloved aloo (potato) to biryani. The tuber has now change into ubiquitous to the biryani in Bengal with most Calcuttans feeling very strongly about it.
“In Lucknow and Awadh, gastronomy was treated as art. There were skilled labour and chefs who used to cook in the kitchens,” says Manzilat, including that when Wajid Ali Shah settled in Metiabruz in Calcutta in 1856, he was making an attempt to create a mini Lucknow. In Lucknow, his meals got here from five-six kitchens… from his uncle’s, spouse’s, mom’s kitchen and so forth. Whereas, in Calcutta he had only one kitchen. So, his cooks right here innovated to create one thing new and completely different for the king.
“Potato was an exotic vegetable those days, one that the common man couldn’t afford. It was even more expensive than meat. His chefs decided to add them to this dish and that’s how aloo came to exist in biryani,” says Manzilat as she sends out plates brimming with yakhni pulao and rooster nawabi chaap.
A former lawyer, Manzilat additionally helped her husband along with his leather-based enterprise earlier than entering into the meals sector. She began out with popups. Eventually individuals favored her meals a lot that they wished them frequently. Then, she began catering small parts from her home. As demand soared, she remodeled her husband’s leather-based workshop terrace right into a quaint restaurant festooned with fairy lights, minimalist decor and luxurious foliage.
Always a great prepare dinner, Manzilat says that the meals that she makes may be very completely different from the common Muslim meals in Kolkata. “Bengali Muslims include a lot of fish, prawn malai curry, bhajas. I got married into a Bihari family and when I tasted the food here I realised that our food was different. I used food as a medium to do something that connects my family and food to people,” she provides.
Her flavours are usually Awadhi. Her recipes are completely different, she makes use of fragrant spices. “I don’t use too much oil, turmeric, coriander powder, red chilli powder. My food doesn’t look loud. It’s mild, flavourful and aromatic. When we go to Lucknow we find the same food.” At Manzilat, the meals is a mirrored image of the flavours she grew up on with recipes from her grandmother and mom. The restaurant operates on a pre-booking and pre-ordering system. “As I am doing niche food, I need to organise and cook according to the orders so that the food is finished the same day. I do not carry anything forward to the next day,” she says. The group, primarily all girls, is simply 5 individuals. Manzilat single-handedly does all of the cooking however wants assist with the washing, cleansing, prepping and so forth.
Meanwhile we tuck into the shammi kebab that’s so delicate that it crumbles when it comes into contact with the fork. The mutton yakhni pulao is nice, the biryani is even higher, however for us, the rezala, the chaanp and the kebab are the celebs. Eveything is so filled with flavour however none of it’s greasy or overwhelming. And we chase down the meal with a shot of khus ka sherbat served in a thumb-sized crystal glass. Despite it being a Tuesday evening, the terrace is filled with diners.
A dinner is underway. “They are celebrating their mother’s 70th birthday,” smiles Manzilat, including that the 70-year-old didn’t thoughts climbing all these steps for her meals, and that provides her the enjoyment to hold on.
Manzilat is positioned at Rubi Enterprise, Plot-1 Phase-3, Kasba Industrial Estate, Kolkata. Pre-ordering is necessary.