It was an Upper Crust initiative from the start. When young Chef Murtaza Saifee joined The Park, New Delhi as an
Executive Sous Chef, Upper Crust got after his case to hold a food festival showcasing the food of his community.
You see, Saifee is from the Bohra community, virtually unknown in Delhi. It was one excuse after another, “Ms Priya Paul
has to have her celebratory party for her Bharat Ratna and there’s no time for all this” or “My Executive Chef is going
on leave so all hands on deck” and much more in the same vein. But, what Upper Crust wants, Upper Crust gets, so finally the festival was ready and it did roaring business. Saifee took the precaution of hiring a couple of caterers from his
hometown Surat for the initial setup.
As the Bohra community has their origins in Gujarat, there were touches of Gujarat in the meal. The Sola Khichdi was identifiably Gujarati, with rice, dal and a few vegetables: there was enough ghee to make your cardiologist stare in horror but it was easy on the spices. The Guvar Bateta too was a typically Gujarati preparation of beans and potatoes, plus there was the only cold soup in the entire sub-continent, called Sarki and flavoured with curd for its souring and cooling appeal. But it was the meat-based dishes that really defined the cuisine. All largely meat-eating communities make sure that they consume every part of the goat and the Bohras are no exception. Khiri were the mammary glands of the goat, cooked in the tandoor, and Bheja ni Cutlet were delicate roundels of brain dipped in batter and deep-fried. Deep-frying won the day at this particular festival: Cream Tikka was marinated cubes of lamb that were deep-fried and plenty of the other dishes were unbelievably rich with industrial quantities of butter, ghee and cream. Chef Saifee was firm on the health-giving qualities of the cuisine though. “If you see our feasts in the mosques, you will be hard-pressed to find one single overweight person though we eat this kind of food every day.” Now Upper Crust has another agenda and that is to see some of the dishes from the festival on the regular menu!