Chefs always have a dazzling array of culinary secrets up their sleeves. Sometimes it’s a particular ingredient, and at other times it could be a culinary technique, a unique combination of spices or a special way to treat a particular ingredient.
For Chef Aslam Ali, Senior Chef de Partie at the Holiday Inn Downtown, the secret ingredient underlying his amazing and totally authentic Biryani is cold-pressed Mustard Oil in all its rich, golden-yellow glory.
Chef Ali started his career in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata), known for its rich culinary heritage – and in particular, the unique Bengal Biryani that stands apart from other varieties like Awadhi and Hyderabadi Biryani. The Calcutta influence provided Chef Ali with a deep understanding of the various ways in which Mustard Oil can be used to add value to the dazzling spectrum of flavours that characterize the cuisines of Bengal and Odisha. He learnt how to use Mustard Oil not just as a cooking medium but also as a flavouring agent, a marinade, a spice and a gravy-maker.
In addition to using Mustard Oil as an ingredient in his highly appreciated Biryani, Chef Ali also marinates the meat for the Biryani in Mustard Oil – a technique he adopted from the legendary Wazwan cooks of Kashmir. That’s another culinary trick in his arsenal – one that gives the meat in the Biryani a distinctive taste and texture.
From Calcutta Chef Ali moved to Kuwait and has been working there for more than fourteen years, bowling gourmets and foodies over with his unique, personalised version of the famous Nawabi Mutton Biryani.
Chef Ali says that while it is difficult to be away from his family for long stretches of time, everything becomes worthwhile if one is doing something that one is passionate about – and for this master chef, passion is all about cooking his signature dishes and basking in the adulation of people from all over the world who savour the dishes and admire the subtlety of the many flavours that he brings to life, time and time again.