KHASSA by Shahnoor Jehan offers a sneak-peek at authentic Hyderabadi dishes with recipes more than a century old
Last week, we were a part of an exclusive session — KHASSA by Shahnoor Jehan — a food curation project that organised its maiden dinner to give us a taste of authentic Hyderabadi cuisine. It is helmed by Shahnoor, who is the daughter of the late Indian Administrative Service officer Shaukat Ali Khan, while she gets her blue blood from her mother Late Faiq Jehan, who was of royal descent. All the dishes were made from scratch by this home chef with secret recipes from the royal kitchens and that of her grandmother. During our elaborate meal, we learn that KHASSA derives its meaning from Urdu word that means ‘cooked food’.
The session promised to bring back ancient recipes, dating back over 100 years, in the form of signature gourmet compositions. “I have managed to inherit my grandmother Muzaffar Unissa Begum’s cooking techniques and recipes from my mother Faiq Jehan, and from our ancestral kitchen, which has apparent hints of early Mukalla (erstwhile Yemen) cuisine. Some of the recipes also take us back to my ancestral home Shah Manzil, which is now known as Raj Bhavan,” she shares, adding that daughter Nimrah and son Sohrab Mirza were the catalysts who helped Shahnoo bring this to life. We are also informed that these recipes have secret ingredients, which are kept safely intact and that add to the flavours and experience.
As we settled down at her Banjara Hills residence, we started with the most refreshing star apple juice, and tried the creamy fish salad later. A bit on the sweeter side, this dish cooked with pineapples and tomatoes was flavourful and cooling, probably a warm-up for the varieties to come. The finger food, Shami Kebab and Mutton Sikhampur, is best described as ‘melt-in-the-mouth’. We learn that haleem is one of her most-requested dishes. As we taste a spoonful of it, we understand why — it’s absolutely delicious! “I have bequeathed this recipe of haleem from my mother-in-law, Late Begum Shaheda Samad. Another famous dish of mine comes from my mother, Faiq Jehan — Leg Roast (Rann Ghosht),” says Shahnoor. Dum ka Murgh, cooked in thick aromatic cashew gravy was delightfully smokey — best enjoyed with hot basmati. The Tamate Ka Kut — tomato gravy topped with a boiled egg — won us over instantly, courtesy the tangy flavour. We liked it even more than the Mutton Dalcha. Meanwhile, Shahnoor tells us that she attempted to cook all the dishes in authentic Hyderabadi style, keeping the original flavours intact, rather than reinventing them. “I have been in the kitchen from the wee hours of the morning and spent around 12 hours to perfect all the spices and seasonings that went into the dishes,” she shares.
The Mutton Roast is replete with diced veggies such as carrots, onions and baby potatoes, and finally, topped with cheese. This one was definitely one of the favourites from the menu. However, the hardcore meat lovers waited for the Quzi — a signature dish from the Yemeni heritage comprising slow-cooked lamb with almonds, saffron and small sugar cubes (misri). We took home some delicious Badam Kund (slow-cooked almond and saffron dish) after the event.
Reach out to them on @khassabyshahnoor for bespoke catering.
Price on request.