Bohri cuisine is one of the most underrated and less available cuisines. AS per my knowledge goes, it originated from the Shia muslim community in Yemen, who later traveled largely to western India and Pakistan. Thus there is a strong gujrati confluence in it as well as an overdose of meat, it’s not that we don’t like it, but still……
The cuisine is traditionally served in Thals, large metal plate. The whole family sits around it and eats from that one plate. It implied unity and equality in the bohra community. A square cloth called safra is placed on the carpet, and raised metal or wooden round called kundali is placed on which the thal is kept. Even on a daily basis, if a dish has been placed on the thal, there must be at least one person seated before it as food must not be ignored and while the other person eats, one can’t get up when done.
As a part of their quest to present various cuisine, ITC Sonar had curated a special foodfestival called #BohriDawat as a part of the lunch and dinner buffet in their Eden Pavillion outlet and I was invited for a food tasting session.
Now, in a fine dining restaurant, it’s very difficult to present the Bohri Thal, but however, we were presented with one large metal plate each, on which the Sodanna and salt were given. Now, normally, it tends to surprise us on getting a sweet dish as the first course, but I read this lovely blog on bohri cuisine and took the help of it, so it was somewhat known to me. In Bohri suisine, every meal starts and ends with taking a grain of salt which is believed to clear the taste bud and cure many diseases. Another important traditional is of eating sodanna which is basically cooked rice sprinkled with granulated sugar and ghee (clarified butter) to start the meal on special religious occasions.
There was an endless supply of sherbet (and soft drinks if one pleases) throughout the meal and the we were presented the starters. Namely, the bheja chop (Brain fry), Naan chop, Chicken fry and cutlet on a smaller plate. Needless to say, wherein the bheja fry was choice of the mass, I preferred to have the subtle Naan chop. The next course was again the dessert platter with Thulli and halwa.
We all heard so much about the meat dishes and being a carnivore bong, I was eagerly waiting for it. Maybe, sensing the same, the main course was designed with mostly the meat dishes only including the super awesome Bohri Biryani (a subtly spiced rice with mutton gurda, trotters and gurda, individually set to dum) and Baida roti (the foreign version of our home-grown meat stuffed parantha). There was the Dabba Gosht ( mutton in white gravy- extremely less spicy) and Bohri mutton Korma. Frankly, such delicious were the dishes, that at one point of the time, I lost track of the names (though the chef was kind enough to explain them to us) and kept on gorging.
Being a bong, we would have definitely loved to have those lovely desserts at the last, but certain customs have to be followed. And so did we. Overall, it was a lovely lunch and considering the size of the thal, I doubt if anyone would be able to finish one full thal at one go.
Bon apetit !!!
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