One of the only things as interesting & fun as eating delicious food is hearing stories about said delicious food. So today lets talk about Dum Pukht Almost all of us have some ‘dum’ food at some point in our lives – Dum aloo & dum biryani being two of the popular dishes but do you know about the origins of the cuisine?
‘Dum’ means to ‘breathe in’ and ‘Pukht’ to ‘cook’. Dum Pukht cooking uses a round, heavy – bottomed pot (a handi) in which food is tightly sealed and cooked over a slow fire.
There are two main aspects to this style of cooking; bhunao and dum, or ‘roasting’ and ‘maturing’ of a prepared dish. In this style of cuisine, Herbs and spices play an extremely critical role (it’s also interesting to note that the dum pukht method of cuisine uses less spices than most other Indian forms of cooking). The process of slow roasting gently persuades the meat & vegetable to release maximum flavor. The sealing of the lid of the handi with dough achieves maturing. No water is added, and the food cooks slowly in its juices, thus retaining all its natural aromas and giving it a very rich flavor which distinguishes it from all other cuisines.
Now let’s talk about the origin. Like all great origin stories, we don’t really know if this is how it all started, but that makes it even more special. So the legend goes like this – When Nawab Asaf-ud-daulah (who ruled Awadh from 1748 to 1797) found his kingdom in the grip of famine, he initiated a food-for-work programme, employing thousands in the construction of the Bada Imambara shrine. Large cauldrons were filled with rice, meat, vegetables and spices and sealed to make a simple, one-dish meal that was available to workers day and night. Then, one day, the Nawab caught a whiff of the aromas emanating from the cauldron and the royal kitchen was ordered to serve the dish. And the rest, as they say is history. Some sources state that dum pukht appears to be based on a traditional Persian method of cooking dishes buried in sand but I prefer to believe this story.
Writing about this has made me salivate at my laptop & I think I need to dine at Dum Pukht at ITC Maratha soon. According to them, Dum Pukht serves not just a cuisine, but an experience that goes beyond mere satisfaction of appetite to the realm of sensuality : an evocative presentation of aromas, flavors and textures that pays tribute to an appreciation of the finer things in life to become A Grand Cuisine.