Shahi Mughal Dastarkhwan — An aromatic journey to the Mughal Era .

By Shamrina Carim

From the Royal Kitchens of the Mughal Empire

Chef Asif Qureshi, a literal lineage from the generations of the Qureshis, traveled from Bhopal to Colombo to share a unique experience of Mughlai Cuisine. It was a privilege to be one of the tasters of the Mughal heritage by chefs who specially curated flavourful dishes for the Nawabs of Awadh.

Asif Qureshi currently serves his exquisite Mughal delicacies at the Courtyard by Marriott in Bhopal, India. The Chef’s culinary expertise is focused on preparing an array of rich, creamy dishes ostensibly tracing their origins to the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire.

Amidst the modern and luxury ambience of Courtyard Colombo, the Shahi Mughal Dastarkhwan fundamentally focused on primary ingredients, saffron and nuts that reflects the opulence of the Mughal era. 

The menu comprises dishes such as biryani, korma, and various breads like naan and roti, serving as the heart of Mughal culinary traditions, captivating food enthusiasts worldwide.

Delicious Mutton Soup 

To begin with, Chef Asif welcomed us with an appetizing Shorba E Khass; a mutton soup, blended with the essence of the luxurious saffron and mutton bones. As South Asians, flavour plays a significant role in our palate. The Mutton Shorba E Khass did justice to our culture.

Kebabs to pass around 

The Mughals loved dairy and authentic spices infused cuisine. Chef Asif encapsulated special spices, unique hand-grounded spices and a concoction of preparation methods infused into Indian slash Arabic flavours.

For the top favourite, we tasted a glimpse of the Nawabi Paneer Tikka, twice! It was scrumptious and a must try off their appetizer menu. The thick, milky and meat-like vegetarian kebab fills your mouth with a kick of burnt flavour of cottage cheese. The chef articulated about how he incorporated his own masala marinated with yoghurt into the paneer—an Indian classic!

The second appetizer might sound sophisticated, but simply focused on all the ingredients mixed into making a Beetroot and Poppy Seed Dumpling (not your typical dumpling) but a bravado move of a patty infused with pure desi ghee. The Chukandar Khas Khas Ki Tikki is all about colour, and simplicity depicted through the beautiful old Indian cuisine style—

Mind you, we were given a chance to taste the most divine forms of Indian cuisine from the Mughal empire. Hence we got the chance to devour chicken drumsticks marinated with spices and yoghurt, cooked over charcoal and served in BBQ style on the table. Known as Tangdi Kebab, the appetizer is prepared in imitation to popular restaurant style grilled food. 

For the devoured meat lovers, Chef Qureshi prepared a tender version of mutton called the Mutton Galouti Kebab with Khasta Paratha,  that melts in your mouth. The patties are unbelievably soft, well minced; served with a flaky layered flatbread that is aesthetically pleasing before you feast. A must try if you want to go full non-veg at the buffet!

Mains enjoyed by many!

The menu was diligently and generously portioned, posing a larger variety. A buffet worth the price!

Amidst the large array of dishes served, we tried a few of our go-to curries and mains. Starting with the Dal E Khass Dal Bukhara, lentils that were slow cooked overnight. The buttery, creamy and uniquely grinder spices were incorporated into the dhal with a pint of tanginess from the tomato. 

In addition to the lentil curry, we added one of the signature dishes—the aromatic Mughai Royal chicken called Murgh Nawabi Korma. Spicy, authentically perfect for the South Asian palate, and tenderized meat that pairs well with bread or rice or any assorted mains you would like to enjoy with. 

Likewise, we paired the two delectable curries with Chef’s magical hands of bread preparation. The Veraky Tawa Paratha was a bussing ten out of ten! Buttery, toasty and freshly prepared delicacy!

If you are a fan of rice, we recommend you to try the above mentioned curries Basmati Ki Khushboo Katahal Ki Biryani, a delicious experience cooked with long grain basmati rice and jackfruit pieces—extraordinary combo!

Without any exaggeration we tried another bread specialty, a saffron and nut infused soft flat bread—Sheermal. Beyond an expectation of a pita bread. The Mughlai cuisine pays homage to an ethnic mixing of Arab and Indian in the Sheermal bread combination. Just delicious!

For the sweet tooth!

Desserts that can never disappoint you, especially if you have a strong sweet tooth, definitely not for the subtle. But worth a try.

The Mughals preference over dairy presents a widespread of butter, cream, or even milk. So, the dairy also finds itself in desserts like halwa and Shahi Tukda. The Mughals also had a rich stock of saffron and dry fruits.

We were served a rich accompaniment of 3 desserts that are in the prime of the Mughlai cuisine. Starting off with the Shahi Tudka, subtle but a sensual ghee fried sweeten bread. The condensed milk is slow cooked with grace to receive the infused spices into the breaded element of the dish. 

During Ramadan, the Muslims enjoy the Sheer Korma, one of the signature desserts prepared by Chef Qureshi. The vermicelli is cooked with sweetened condensed milk and nuts, warm and homely

Last, but not least, the Badam, Kesar Ki Kulfi, was not served as your classic kulfi, but more of a homemade feeling and warm dessert. The delicacy was prepared with almonds, saffron, pistachio and cardamom.


Location: Beira Kitchen – Courtyard by Marriott Colombo—

Colombo City Center Mall and Residencies, 137, Sir James Pieris Mawatha, Colombo 2

Buffet hours: 7 pm – 10.30 pm from 31st May – 09th June.

Price per person:

Dinner Buffet –  LKR 5800/- Nett

Buffet with free flow of beverages –  LKR 8500/- Nett

Reservations: +94 11 773 4400
Visit their Instagram page @courtyardcolombo and Facebook page Courtyard by Marriott Colombo for updates.

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