Hyderabadi special Food

All things nice and Hyderabadi

Authentic flavours Shahnoor Jehan   | Photo Credit: Sanjay Borra

Shahnoor Jehan is the person to dial-in when her children’s friends feel like eating anything Indian, exotic and specifically Hyderabadi. They however, know they have to think beyond biryani. Their specific requests for dishes used to cheer the lady and the prospect of roasting spices, making elaborate preparations with onions and nuts would make her look forward to such requests.

Having cooked for several parties of friends and family on request, Shahnoor’s children have finally managed to make the shy lady agree to open her kitchen to cater for party orders. Though never trained professionally, Shahnoor, a BA graduate, always had her unique ways around the kitchen. She reminisces on her learning from her mother Faiq Jehan. Shahnoor’s inspiration is her grandmother late Muzaffar Unissa Begum and she is proud that she has managed to inherit her grandmother’s cooking techniques which has prominent influence of early Mukalla (erstwhile Yemen) cuisine to it and “it dates back to my times at our old home — Shah Manzil (present Raj Bhavan), then belonging to the late Shahzore Jung, my great-grandfather. After my marriage I also picked up some unique recipes from my mother-in-law Shaheda Begum’s kitchen,” she adds.

In her house in Banjara Hills, Shahnoor, who is also known as Noora to her friends, insists that her food will do the talking. “I really don’t know what to talk about my food. I have been cooking and serving people and never thought of it as anything special,” she smiles.

All things nice and Hyderabadi

She makes quick retreats into the kitchen to check on the food being prepared for the evening to announce the formal inauguration of Khassa — her catering service. At the dinner that served strictly non-vegetaran food, she welcomed guests with freshly squeezed star fruit juice, followed by fish salad, shami kebab, mutton shikampur. For the main course there was haleem, tamate ka kut, mutton dalcha, mutton roast, dum ka murg, kuzi. The guest for the evening was Indira Devi Dhanrajgir, Hyderabad-based art patron and food connoisseur.

Sohrab Mirza, Shahnoor’s son, adds that his mother always looked forward to them bringing friends home. Their favourite being the dum ka murg and mutton roast. As they grew up, friendly requests translated into small catering orders from friends and relatives at the behest of daughter Nimrah Mirza who was quick to identify the unique talent her mother had for traditional Hyderabadi cuisine.

Discussing Khassa, Shahnoor adds, “People who love my food describe it as a hidden treasure of authentic Hyderabadi cuisine. Dum ki rann, chicken warmi, chicken roast are not so often discussed. Hyderabadi cuisine has become synonymous with biryani. My venture aims to serve diners looking for authentic, wholesome food. Khassa, in old Hyderabadi, means ‘cooked food’ and I want to carry forward the legacy of my royal ancestry in Persia,” she says.

In an effort to bring to life many traditional recipes from her ancestral kitchen, Shahnoor insists that rather than reinventing, her food cooked in authentic Hyderabadi style keeps the original flavours intact. So relies on the use of nuts, fresh spices and fresh ingredients for her cooking.

Khassa’s menu boasts of dishes like kuzi, shikampur, rann ghosht and haleem made with her mother-in-law’s secret recipe. Most of Shahnoor’s signature items are a recreation of 100-year old recipes. Her menu also includes kairi ka dopayaza, fish salad, there is badam ka khund, sheer khorma and qubani ka meetha.

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Instagram: @khassabyshahnoor

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2021 6:40:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/shahnoor-jehan-khassa/article29909425.ece

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