Continuing with my research on the festival conducted by Chef Ravitej Nath of Oberoi Gurgaon and Osama Jalali, Here is one more piece on a dish named Motia Pulao served on the date of festival. (Link for the festival “Unearthing of the Lost”)
What Is It: The dish is simple looking Basmati based Yakhni Pulao with edible life-sized pearls and chunks of Mutton. The pulao is usual one but the tricky part to master is pearls. Egg whites are poached and boiled, then pounded and stuff in either intestine or gullet of chicken and tied equidistantly and boiled, which gives it a perfect pearl shape and size.
Origin: The dish comes from the kitchen of last surviving Nawab of Lucknow, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, who was well-known for his lavish and exquisite dinners hosted for guests, where his chefs were given a free hand to make just about anything impressive they would like and go all out with their imagination.
Quote from “Sham E Awadh-Writings on Lucknow”: In the kitchens of the nawabs, cooks were given unlimited freedom to delight and surprise their masters and impress dinner guests. The dastarkhwan (tablecloth) was laid with as many as 40 dishes, some of them topped with tissue thin sheets of sliver and gold. Abdul Halim Sharar, who as a child lived in the court-in-exile of Wajid Ali Shah, describes a fantastic dinner in which every dish from kawabs to chutneys, was a sugar replica of the real thing; he also describes a host of wondrous pulao, among them the moti (pearl) pulao, named for its topping of tiny, lustrous balls fashioned from egg yolks, that had been beaten with gold and silver, stuffed into the gullet of a chicken, tied into rounds and cooked. Chicken were fed musk and saffron, to perfume their flesh. And there are innumerable kawabs, including a whole category with a texture so fine that they melted in the mouth (one popular explanation for this was the nawabs had bad teeth).
Present Scenario: In the present day scenario the dish is nowhere to be found, the nawabs made pearls with egg yolk, the festival had it with egg whites (albumen).
A lot of Hindu families make a moti pulao with paneer and atta moti, which are fried and consumed with a pulao during Navratra times. The show named Lost Recipe by Epic Channel also had an episode with Chef Aditya Bal trying to trace and cook Moti Pulao with the royal families of Lucknow.
If you happen to hear even remotely about any of these dishes or any other similar ones, It’s definitely worth a try considering not only the taste but the sheer amount of technicality & history involved in cooking just one single piece of it. Do let us know if you ever lay your hands on it.
The food picture is from Banaras Ka Khana which has been provided by the concerned rightful owner and is their exclusive property