In the Indian culinary world, Chef Imtiaz Qureshi is a legendary figure. He is known, among other things, for reviving the ancient Dum Pukht style of slow-cooking on a low flame. As the Master Chef at ITC Hotels, Chef Qureshi is also famous as the creator of the iconic Bukhara brand. In 2016, the prestigious Padma Shri Award was conferred on him for his invaluable contribution to India’s multifaceted culinary arts.
Chef Qureshi’s career has some truly exciting highlights. When he was a young chef working at the Krishna Hotel in Lucknow, a lady came to the hotel in great distress. She had an important event and her cook had not turned up. She requested the young Qureshi to step in and rescue her from her predicament. Qureshi took up the challenge and in the short time that was available, he cooked up a grand feast that impressed the guests enormously and earned him the heartfelt blessings of this lady, who turned out to be none other than the Queen of Ghazal, Begum Akhtar!
On another occasion, Qureshi fondly recalls that he used to cook for the NCC cadets stationed on the outskirts of Lucknow. When Queen Elizabeth II visited India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru invited the cadets to Delhi, to meet the Queen. Qureshi went along with the cadets to cook for them. When Pandit Nehru heard that a chef from Lucknow was present, he asked Qureshi to prepare a meal for the Queen – who was known to love Indian food. Qureshi served up a royal feast, which included Lucknow’s famous Kakori Kebab.
Today, we are going to recreate one of Chef Qureshi’s unique recipes – an aubergine dish called Badal Jaam. It is an exotic aubergine delicacy with a creamy coriander-flavoured yogurt dressing. This is one of the many dishes made in the Dum Pukht style – but instead of the traditional coal-fired earthen oven, we will use a modern-day oven to speed the process up.
Let’s begin by putting together all the ingredients that you will require for recreating a homemade version of Badal Jaam.
Aubergines (Baingan): 2, medium sized
Tomatoes: 2 kilograms
Onions: 100 grams
Yogurt (Dahi): 1 kilogram
Mustard Oil: 200 millilitres
Garlic (Lasun): 100 grams
Ginger (Adrak): 20 grams
Chaat Masala: 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli Powder: 1 teaspoon
Coriander (Dhania) Leaves: 20 grams
Lemon Juice: 2 tablespoons
Salt: to taste
The ingredients mentioned above are for four servings; adjust the ingredients proportionately to suit the number of servings you require.
Remove the stems of the aubergines, slice off the two ends, wash the aubergines and cut them into round pieces that are roughly equal in thickness. Keep aside.
Blanch the tomatoes, remove the skin, deseed and coarsely chop them.
Peel, wash and finely chop the onions.
Peel, wash and finely chop the garlic. Divide the chopped garlic into two portions of 90 grams and 10 grams.
Scrape, wash and finely chop the ginger.
Wash and coarsely chop the coriander.
Place the yogurt in a muslin cloth bundle and hang it. Let it hang till the quantity is reduced by half, then place the yogurt in a bowl and whisk it. Add the coriander, the 10 gram portion of garlic and the lemon juice. Mix well and keep aside.
Preheat the oven to 135oC (275oF).
Heat around 75 millilitres of the Mustard Oil in a pan on a low flame. Sauté the onions till they take on a light brown colour. Add the garlic (90 grams) and ginger, and continue to sauté till the onions turn golden brown.
Next, add the tomatoes along with the red chilli powder and salt. Temper (Bhunno) till the mixture takes on a consistency like thick sauce. Check the levels of salt at this point and adjust as required.
In a separate pan, heat the remaining Mustard Oil on a Medium flame till it reaches its smoking point and emit whiffs of aromatic white smoke. Next, deep-fry the round aubergine slices till they are properly cooked. Turn the flame off.
Take a roasting tray and grease it lightly. Place the deep-fried aubergines on the tray, arranging them carefully to avoid any overlapping. Sprinkle the chaat masala over the top of the aubergines.
Spread the thick tomato mixture evenly over the deep-fried aubergines. Cover the roasting tray with a sheet of aluminium foil and place it in the preheated oven for five minutes. In the traditional version of this recipe, the aubergines and tomato mixture would have been slow-roasted for several hours – our modernized version takes less time because of the effectiveness of the preheated oven.
Turn the oven off. Take the roasting tray out of the oven and remove the aluminium foil. Arrange the aubergine and tomato mixture-topped pieces on a platter and use a tablespoon to place the yogurt mixture on each piece as a topping. Be generous with the topping – it’s an essential part of the unique flavour of this dish.
Your exotic and delicious Badal Jaam is now ready to be served – the enchanting flavour of traditional Dum Pukht cuisine recreated in your own kitchen. As you savour this delicacy, you will realize why Chef Imtiaz Qureshi is such a towering personality in the culinary world.
For more such recipes, please visit https://www.purioilmills.com/recipes-in-english/