Chapslee is renowned for its cuisine, the hallmark of the royal ‘House of Kapurthala’.
My grandfather, the late Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala was not only a gourmet, but his knowledge of food, both Indian and French was extra ordinary and he was renowned for the cuisine that graced his table. His legacy is the amazing; the culinary repository that I have inherited; the taste, the flavours, the aroma ………!
In years gone by each of the great houses of India had a culinary repertoire distinctly it’s own, but there were times when the head or members of a family would give or exchange recipes with a counterpart and hence over a course of time many of these recipes got amalgamated into the collection of another royal house. Thus, to a great extent North Indian cuisine got intermingled with no specific allegiance to any one royal house except some precious recipes which remained secret and became hallmarks of particular royal houses. In the case of my family our cuisine has been influenced definitely by the houses of Patiala, Bhawalpur and Kashmir, but, perhaps more so by Avadh, as my great grandfather, Kanwar Suchet Singh and Nawabzada Suleiman Qadar, a younger brother of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah had exchanged turbans which meant that they were like brothers.
Two books have been published in the last few years, ‘ Dining with the Maharajas ‘ and ‘ Dining with the Nawabs’, but neither of these books mention any of the delicacies that I have inherited from my grandfather though some are mentioned in H.H. Maharaja Digvijay Singh Sahib Bahadur of Sailana’s book which was published some years ago. In other words what I consider to be the jewels in our collection are distinct and exclusive to my family and the table at Chapslee.
It appears that there is a conflict between two stalwarts of the cuisine made famous by the erstwhile royal houses …. the pullao and the biryani. Strangely enough, most people do not know the difference and refer to a pullao as a biryani as well. To me personally a pullao is of much greater variety and magnificence than a biryani. In erstwhile Avadh the pullao was held in very high esteem being of intricate composition and served on special occasions only, whereas the biryani was considered quite common, even pedestrian. On the other hand, in Hyderabad the biryani took pride of place whereas pullao’s do not find any mention at all. In Punjab the pullao takes definite precedence over the biryani, as it does at Chapslee.
My grandfather’s table was inspired by the royal cuisine of the north. Some of the famous recipes which were honed to perfection at Chapslee are described below…….
(Gosht) Aam Ka Pullao (origin Avadh presumably Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Mentioned in H.H. Maharaja Digvijay Singh of Sailana’s book). An extra ordinary, exquisite and delicate offering.
Samarbahisht (Fruit of heaven)…….. (Gosht) Saeb ka Pullao
(Gosht) Lahsun Ka Pullao (origin in Avadh. Mentioned in H.H. Maharaja Digvijay Singh of Sailana’s book).
(Gosht) Kali Mirch Ka Pullao
(Gosht) Moti (pearls) Ka Pullao
(Gosht) Shahjahani Pullao ………Named after the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan made famous by the house of Patiala. The origin of this pullao is not known, presumably Patiala.
Kathal Ka Pullao…..a vegetable pullao.
Murg Naranj Dum Pukht (made with orange peel) another extra ordinary and exquisite delicatly flavored pullao with a heavenly aroma. (Origin Avadh Nawab Wajid Ali Shah).
Lacchman ki Murg Biryani (Raja Charanjit Singh’s famous cook) whose Biryani was highly rated.
Rohu Macchli ki Biryani.
Kale Motiyon (Bengal gram) ki Biryani.
Seekh Kabab, Galawat Ke Kabab, Pasanda Kabab, Shami Kabab, Shikhampuri Kabab.
Avadh ka Korma, Delhi ka Korma, Aloo Bukhara Gosht, Rogan Josh Kashmiri, Nawab Bhawalpur ka Rogan Josh, Ishtoo, Kalia (from the villages of central U.P.), Handi Gosht, Nargissi Kofte, Kacche keeme ke Kofte.
Tamatar ka Saalan, Palak Gosht, Shaljam ka Saalan, Chukandar ka Saalan, Turrai Gosht, Karela Gosht.
Murg Badaam Khas, Murg Mussallam, Murg Zaafraani, Murg Khada Masala, Murg Jahan Ara.
Macchli ka Korma, Macchli Naariyal ke Doodh Mei, Macchli ke Kofte, Macchli Methi ke Saag mei.
Chutney wale Aloo, Baadal Jaam, Dum Aaloo, Heeng wali Lauki, Malai Kofte, Mirch ka Saalan, Mussallam Lauki, Bharwaan Bhindi, Doodh wale Tinde, Shimla Mirch Dal Bhar ke, Baingan ki Launj, Amrood ki Subzi, Kathal Aloo Bukhara.
Baingan ka Raita, Bhindi ka Raita, Hari Matar ka Raita, Anaanaas ka Raita, Anaar ka Raita, Moongphalli ka Raita, Aloo ka Raita, Pudeena aur Adrak ka Raita.
Saeb ki Kheer, Makhane ki Kheer, Gur ki Kheer, Santre (oranges) ki Kheer, Lahsun ki Kheer (origin in Avadh. Mentioned in H.H. Maharaja Digvijay Singh of Sailana’s book), Kharbooze Ki Kheer.
Sooji ka Hlawa, Urad Daal ka Halwa, Ande ka Halwa, Laoki ka Halwa.
Anaanaas ka Muzzaaffar
Mushk e tanjan (aroma of heaven) a sweet mutton or murg pullao.
Continental and Anglo Indian Cuisine:-
Consomme Julienne, Poulet au Citron, Roast Mutton, Fish Meuniere, Crepe Suzettes and Mango Souffle are popular fare. Anglo Indian Cuisine…. now a rarity, also finds pride of place at Chapslee with Daal Soup, Glace Chops, Becti Mauli, Steamed Ginger Pudding and Baked Rice Pudding being some of the treasures that have survived.
This is my legacy, my inheritance which I treasure with all the passion at my command and pride myself that I possess jewels that match the best of the cuisine of India.