METRO PLUS

Beyond the border

Vakil Ahmed Ansari.. on the job

Vakil Ahmed Ansari.. on the job  

How is Pakistani food different from Indian food? Chef Ansari explains...

To ensure that he learnt the authentic way of cooking Pakistani food and to get his hands on genuine recipes, Master Chef Vakil Ahmed Ansari made repeated trips to Pakistan till he was confident enough to recreate the cuisine.Today, he brings to town, the art he mastered, along with fellow chef Anwar Ansari, for a Pakistani Food Festival. Ansari, who started Dera, the Pakistani food restaurant at the Taj in Chandigarh explains how Pakistani food is different from Indian food. "Pakistani food makes use of fresh hand-pounded masalas, unlike the dried herbs and powders we use in Indian cooking. Ghee is used, but the main component of the meal or a dish is meat and vegetables are sparingly used." Surprisingly, Pakistani food also makes extensive use of olive oil. Sparingly used vegetables don't mean there is no vegetarian food on the menu. Since the cuisine is very similar to Punjabi style of cooking, simmered dals, tawa sabzi, chat and tikkas feature here.Chicken, meat (lamb) and beef are usually eaten in Pakistan, but of the many dishes that the duo has brought with them to the city, a few seafood dishes also jostle for space on the menu. "Since Pakistan is not a very large country, the cuisine does not vary from region to region. There are just a few modifications. For example, in Karachi, seafood is popular and in pindis (villages), people usually make one dish with all vegetables and meat included."Though they will not be cooking beef here, they will make other specialities like Taxali Tar Korma, named after a gate where this korma is available as a street food, and tender kebabs like Chapli kebab (another street food speciality) and breads like Kheemeywala naan and Lahori Naan. This cuisine has its own biryani too- the most popular version being Pakke Ghosht Ka Biryani where the meat and rice are cooked separately and then combined. But chef Ansari swears by the Hyderabadi one. " Idhar ka biryani hi sabse achccha hai!" he says.The festival is on till March 4 at Kabab-E-Bahar, Taj Banjara, for dinner only.RENUKA VIJAY KUMAR
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