I warn you, the next 600 odd words you are about to feast your eyes on are pure sin. No, this is NOT an adult rated post nor 51 shades darker.However it could well easily be.
Something about the monsoons here that get people in the mood for good food and drink. I guess its got to do with the melodious waves thrashing against the shores with only you and a pink fat lady for company, amidst a clear sky for company at The Park-Goa.
A resort known to take the unconventional route on multiple occasion the team is always on the look out to introduce some cracker fusion concepts with a steadfast eye of keeping traditional flavors intact. All this and more thanks to their maestro team & Chef Sharad Dewan who made his way from Kolkata for this particular showcase event.
This delightful preparation being – Nihari in succulent Australian lamb chop with noisette potatoes.
First and foremost – I would like to deconstruct this for your reading and my comprehension; primarily since I would have never imagined this preparation in my wildest gastronomic dreams. Consider this – The most tender lamb meat in the world (Australian lamb chops are known to be) infused & stewed delicately through the elaborate preparation of Nihari- a dish known for its spiciness and mostly cooked overnight (roughly 6-8 hours of prep time- mind you),sometimes even buried underground while it is gently stewed. What would this process result in? Extremely tender morsels of meat that literally fall off the bone!!
Ever indulged yourself with some traditional Nihari? What is it,you ask? Simply put; it is slow-cooked beef or lamb along with bone marrow which is seldom garnished to taste (most of the taste lies in the meat stewed to perfection over hours) and occasionally served with cooked brain. The Nihari is garnished according to individual tastes which vary from coriander leaves, fried onions, green chillies, strips of ginger, lemons and sliced white radish.
The etymology of the word ‘Nihari’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Nahar‘, meaning day.Traditionally ‘Nihari‘ is eaten just after the morning namaaz (prayer). There are multiple legends to the origin of this fabulous dish. One story pegs its origination in Old Delhi in the late 18th century during the last throes of the Mughal Empire courtesy – the Muslim Nawab who ate it early in the morning after his prayers only to resurrect later in the noon (Yes one must bring an appetite and a pillow, for the aftermath of this preparation as it lulls you into a long slumber). Another story reveals that Nihari was cooked overnight in large volumes to be served to the laborers.During the expansion of the empire, the kings in some instances replaced coin (currency) with Nihari as a free meal and accommodation for their services.Since the work had to start in the morning, it was cooked in an earthen pot, sometimes even buried and served early to ensure the supply of an energetic workforce.
Alongside multiple legends of origin comes various cultural influences that have their signature added to the dish. I have witnessed this delectable dish in Hyderabad which comprises of lamb bones and tongue. The Nihari with multilayered kulcha (indian bread) is a famous cuisine of Old Lucknow. Another version sampled is the Nalli nihari – a variation made with the marrow of bones where one has to slurp and vacuum every scrap left with the help of your lungs and tongue. Whilst backpacking in Kashmir I gorged on Harissa- a very popular meat preparation made for breakfast in the valley,slow cooked for many hours, with spices and was painstakingly hand stirred throughout. Best be noted that Harissa has a different texture from Nihari, and is much milder in taste, however it resembles Nihari in its method of cooking and the ingredients used, much like the distant cousin you always loved more than your younger sibling.
While you demand your Nihari- and demand you must a suggestion of pure indulgence lies in their ‘Act Menu’- a handcrafted multi-course meal which would excite and titillate your senses of world cuisine masterly crafted for your dining pleasure.
Mind you the meal ain’t over till the pink fat lady sings….