The Shiraz Nostalgia
Amongst all the golden memories of my college days in Kolkata, the one thing that consistently churns up is Shiraz Golden Restaurant in Circus Avenue, Park Circus. All our random parties or any special party for that matter (for example Holi, Diwali or even Durga Puja!) was necessarily powered by Mutton Biriyani, Chicken Chaap and Firni (an Indian Dessert made with milk and powdered Basmati rice with Saffron) from Shiraz. Each one of us would be handed over one packet of Mutton Biriyani each and one piece from the Chicken Chaap to start with… and would end with forever licking the spoons that scooped out the mildly aromatic Firni (a dessert) set in an earthen small pot! The same menu was repeated at every occasion when friends would meet and Mums would refuse to host a mini impromptu parties.
Even today when we go to Kolkata, the same menu from the same Shiraz is waiting either for us at some of our friends’ houses or at our Kolkata home for others who visit us!
Most of the Bengalis that I have met, associate Biriyani, specially the Mughlai cooking with the Lucknowy or the Awadhi style of cooking. Hence, as much as we love the various kinds of Biriyani – the Hyderabadi, the Sindhi, the Pakistani Biriyanis, our taste-buds still search for Shiraz’s Biriyani. Though there is no dearth of Indian restaurants in Dubai, there was definitely a dearth of Indian restaurants which could satiate the Mughlai food nostalgia for those who grew up in Kolkata.
Well, till Shiraz Golden Restaurant came to the shores of Dubai, all the way from Kolkata. Till then some dishes occurred only in my dreams. For example – the Kolkata Kathi Rolls! Or the Mughlai Parathas!
The Little History:
The cooking style of Shiraz roots back to the princely Indian state of Awadh (Oudh) in the times of Nawab Mohammed Wajid Ali Shah Bahadur (1822 AD-1887 AD). Today this is Lucknow. In 1857 AD after the Awadh kingdom was annexed by the British, the Nawab was exiled to Calcutta (Today’s Kolkata). His passion for gourmet food traveled from Lucknow to Calcutta and was nurtured and garnished and fuelled by his special Bawarchis or the Chefs of the Nawab.
Awadhi cuisine has traveled far and wide. But it is believed that only a handful of chefs with royal khansama lineage know the secret ingredients. Shiraz Golden Restaurant is one of the few Awadhi Restaurant that carries that legacy forward and they also embellished the Dum Pukht* style of cooking with aromatic ingredients, dried fruits, and aphrodisiacs that delighted the insatiable Nawab. Today, Shiraz with its rich history continues with the legacy of its Master Chef Shamsuddin, a direct descendent from the close courtery of Bawarchis from the kitchens of the Nawab. [Information Courtesy – Shiraz’s own write-up]
Shiraz Golden Restaurant, Dubai
• Meal for two: Dhs 100/- to Dhs 140/-
• Cuisine Type: Awadhi (Indian); Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
• Location & Contact: Al Abbas Building, Bank Street, Bur Dubai/ Tel No: +971 4 3589818, +971 4 3589322
The Location: Shiraz is conveniently located in Bank Street and hence can cater not only to this populated residential area but to a lot of offices, particularly Banks located on Bank Street. And this ‘Home Delivery’ option extends beyond the area, just like most restaurants in Dubai promise.
The Decor: This is a far cry from the Shiraz ambiance that pervades throughout the original Shiraz in Park Circus, Kolkata. Here, the decor echoes the cuisine it promises to serve. Framed pictures of courtesans and musicians in sepia donning the wall reminds one of Shiraz’s Awadhi heritage while a huge image of the Howrah Bridge in the backdrop reflects the Kolkata connection.
Also different from the Kolkata Shiraaz is the clean, open kitchen (I doubt if we ever bothered how the food is being cooked in the original Shiraz kitchen in Kolkata!).
The Food: The menu card promises a khazana/treasure trove of Awadhi cuisine. We started with the delicious Mocktail, Mango Caprioska – a concoction of Mango, Pineapple and Mint. And yes, it was amazingly rejuvenating and cooling. The other Mocktails which also sounded alluring but couldn’t taste this time were – Cucumber Lemonade, Mango Caprioska, Strawberry Bizz, Shiraz Special Fruit Cocktail.
Since no one goes to Shiraz to have just a salad, the restaurant too has not taken much pain to keep anything elaborate than a Raita and a Garden Salad which is a mixture of cucumber, carrots, onions and green chilli!
The chicken starters boasts of Murgh Tandoori, Murgh Reshmi Kabab, Murgh Tikka kabab, Murgh Bara Kabab, Murgh Qalmi Kabab, Murgh Seekh Kabab, Murgh Kathi Kabab while The mutton/lamb starters boasts of Mutton Reshmi Kabab, Mutton Seekh Kabab, Mutton Raan, Mutton Shami Kabab, Mutton Galawati Kabab, Mutton Kathi Kabab. Unfortunately, the Mutton Starters are served only on Thursdays and Fridays (a Dubai weekend starts on a Thursday, Friday being a holiday). The Murgh Reshmi Kabab (boneless chicken marinated with green chillies, coriander and onions) that we had ordered came with the sauce which is a trademark of Shiraz. Each and every special spice mix is brought all the way from Kolkata!
The main course consisted of Mutton Biriyani and yes, it exuded the exclusive fragrance that only Shiraz’s Biriyani possesses. All their Biriyanis (Mutton Biriyani, Murgh Biriyani, Kachi Biriyani) are signature preparations of Shiraz, cooked in typical Dum Pukht style. The mildly aromatic Vegetable Biriyani made with long-grained Basmati Rice was also a delight. The Murgh Chaap ordered as a side-dish was a perfect accompaniment to our Biriyanis.
Since we were just 2 people, we couldn’t have ordered any more side dish. Unfortunately!Because there are enough and more options to choose from – Murgh Kassa, Murgh Qorma, Murgh Roghan Josh, Murgh Chaap, Murgh rezala, Murgh Mosallam, Murgh Bhuna, Murgh Bharta, Murgh Butter Masala, Murgh Tikka Butter Masala, Murgh Kadahi, Mughlai Murgh Butter Masala, Mughlai Murgh Bharta (the last two dishes are cooked in cashewnut sauce, butter, special masala & saffron); Mutton Stew, Mutton Kassa, Mutton Qorma, Mutton Roghan Josh, Mutton Boti kabab (with gravy), Mutton Rezala, Mutton PAsinda, Mutton Chaap, Mutton Qalia, Mutton Haleem, Fried Bhuna.
AMONG THESE, THE MUTTON HALEEM WHICH IS SERVED ONLY ON THURSDAYS & FRIDAYS seem to be really special. As the menu card describes it – it is a mix of lentils, wheat, rice and meat, cooked in Awadhi style with seventeen aromatic herbs and spices and is a hot favourite during Ramadan in Lucknow!
There is a lot of seafood options – an option that I wasn’t even aware that the original Shiraz ever served. For example – In the Starters you will get Mahi Tandoori (fillet of fish), Mahi Tikka, Jheenga Tandoori (Prawns); in the Main Course you can order Fish Tikka Butter Masala and Jheenga Butter Masala.
For the Vegetarians: There are only 2 limited options in the Starters – Paneer Sashlik Kabab and Veg Seekh Kabab. However there are more options in the Main course – Sabz Butter Masala, Sabz Jhaalfreezi, Lasooni, Kadahi Paneer, Kashmiri Aloo Dum, Dal Makhni, Palak Paneer, Sabz Navratan, Paneer Butter Masala, Yellow Dry fry and more.
They have also designed some reasonably priced Vegetarian Combos (all priced at Dhs 18/-) which I think targets the daily lunch requirement in the surrounding offices.
The Highlight: Though the Biriyanis and the other dishes satiated our souls, what swept us away to the Kolkata Memory Lanes were the KOLKATA KATHI ROLLS.
Prepared just like the way we Kolkatans like it – succulent pieces of kababs rolled in Paratha (Indian flat bread). You get almost all the typical KATHI ROLL items – Egg Roll (Dhs 8/-), Chicken roll (Dhs 10/-), Mutton Roll (Dhs 12/-), Mutton Tikka Roll (Dhs 14/-), Egg Chicken Roll (Dhs 12/-), Egg Mutton Roll (Dhs 14/-), Vegetable Roll (Dhs 8/-), Paneer Roll (Dhs 10/-), Mixed Vegetable Roll (Dhs 10/-).
And hold your breath, they also served DIET KATHI ROLLS made with Roomali Roti!
The reason I mentioned the prices is because I think that the prices here in Dubai are not very different from their Kolkata counterparts
Unfortunately couldn’t try the desserts anymore as we were so full. But the ones that are mentioned in the menu card – Firni, Lucknowy Kheer, Shahi Tukda (again only on Thursdays & Fridays), Gajar Halwa and the Gulab Jamuns are going to haunt me till I actually try them the next time we visit Shiraz.
Special Mention: Though Shiraz specialises in Awadhi Cuisine, the Restaurant had organised special Bengali Buffet last autumn during the Durga Pujo 2011. I would say this was Shiraz’s ‘community service’ to the Bengali community and perhaps also to pay it’s tribute to its origin in Kolkata. The Buffet spread had perhaps every traditional Bengali Dish that you can think of excepting the traditional dishes made with Posto (poppy Seeds as they are banned in the UAE). And at Dhs 45/- per person it was indeed community service!
[For those who are uninitiated to Bengali Cuisine , you may want to read all about Traditional Bengali Food in IshitaUnblogged]
* Dum Pukht: The Awadhi cuisine originally introduced Dum Pukht to the world. Now it is also commonly used in other cuisines like Mughlai, Punjabi and Hyderabadi. Dum’ means to ‘breathe in’ and ‘Pukht’ to ‘cook’. Dum Pukht cooking uses a round, heavy – bottomed pot, a handi, in which food is tightly sealed and cooked over a slow fire. Less spices are used than in traditional Indian cooking, with fresh spices and herbs for flavouring. In some cases, cooking dough is spread over the container, like a lid, to seal the foods. [Information Courtesy – Wikipedia]
You may be interested in reading more about Dumpukht style of cooking over the internet.
Footnote: This review has been done by IshitaUnblogged independently on one of her nostalgic food trips and doesn’t have any association with the Restaurant.