Moti Mahal which started off in Peshawar made its foot print in New Delhi after late KundaLalGujral migrated during the partition. The iconic dish Tandoori Chicken and Dal Makhani was created by Late KundanLal when his erstwhile boss in Peshawar asked for some thing light and non greasy chicken dish. KundanLal then marinated the chicken in yogurt and spices and cooked it in the tandoor. The chicken was attached to an iron string and lowered into the tandoor to be cooked. What came out was the first tandoori chicken, which the world relishes now.
During partition Kundal Lal fled from Peshawar with his family and settled in Delhi as a refuge in a refugee camp. Then in a bustling Daryganj area he bargained a place and started his own restaurant Moti Mahal in 1947. During the initial days though he gave the tandoori chicken & tandoori tikka but there was lot of wastage as this used to dry off? Then he used his innovation by smearing butter and that helped in keeping the tikkas and chicken moist, controlling the wastage. His innovation made it to the next step of creating gravy with tomatoes, dry fruits and other ingredients & condiments. Thus it created the butter chicken and Dal Makhani. Kundan Lal was the one who created and credited for the Tandoori Cuisine.
The Moti Mahal legacy was taken up by his grandson Monish Gujral. His first step was to brand and register the name Moti Mahal. Monish wanted that the brand Moti Mahal should touch all the corner of the country and it is this passion which has seen Moti Mahal restaurant in most of the parts of the country. Monish has blended ingredients, flavours and colours in the master recipes which is common to the entire chain of Moti Mahal restaurants. But the best is Dal makhani which has the lineage of Maa ki dal. Moti Mahals recipe is a mixture of dals: 50 percent urad and the rest 50 percent is divided between ‘rajma’ and ‘channa’ dal. Moti Mahal was a way for refugees to stand on their own feet after Partition, all its dishes emerged out of improvisation. Finally Kundan Lal’s recipe has one kg of dal, 500 ml of cream and a full kg of butter! Thus you know why Dal makhani stands out.
The lip smacking recipes are now a part of the Moti Mahal Deluxe which is situated in Khandagiri. The varietal in the recipes shows that all are been handpicked tried and palate ready for Bhubaneswar. As you enter the restaurant the waft of the gusty tandoor flavor makes your ready for the dig into the food. One can scan the menu and try the recipes else Chef Negi will guide you as per your taste and culinary likes. The best try are the Moti Mahal signature dish, Matar Dhaniya Shorbas, Murg Kali Mirch soup, Tandoori chicken, Hariyali Kebab, Paneer Makhani, Butter Chicken. This can be accompanied with Garlic Naan & Piyaz Kulcha along with the ever drooling the Dal Makhani. Though these were my favourites but the other tandoori items are worth try. The major miss was the dessert which is not mentioned in the menu.
This is the only Fine Dining restaurant in the city, Khandagiri Bhubaneswar serving authentic Tandoori Cuisine and it has been a hit since then. Chef Negi who heads the kitchen has got more than ten years of experience belting out these famous Moti Mahal master recipes. Bon Apetite!!!
Review by :Satyanarayan Mohapatra