Meal with Rocky Mohan: An Expert in Kashmiri and Awadhi Cuisine

There are certain meals that are worth their weight in gold and here is one of them. On a general discussion about Kashmiri and Awadhi cuisine with Rocky Mohan, a person whom I highly respect not only for his knowledge of food but for the human he is, we wondered if we will ever get to eat his recipes from his three best selling books written by Mr Mohan. He was kind enough not only to immediately extend an invitation but also to remind us few days before the D-day.

The generous host welcomed us with open arms at his tastefully done lavish farm house. Rocky Mohan intelligently laid out only 2 kebabs along with variety of cheeses, fruits and other snacks so that we can appreciate the main course too. Both the veg shami and the mutton shami were unlike the one we had earlier had. These kebabs were cooked on a dry tawa to give them a crisp outer while the inside remain tender. Filled with chopped onion, mint and green chilly (paneer in the palak shami) the kebabs were later cooked in desi ghee.

The discussions obviously revolved around food and when Rocky Mohan speaks its better to remain silent and absorb some knowledge…that’s what i did. Undoubtedly he is a repertoire of information and an encyclopedia who is not shy of disseminating knowledge.

The main course was laid down on his huge dining table and he politely asked us to taste dishes one by one to get their individual flavors. I have never had safed mutton keema nor did i think it was possible. This dish is more about the technique which makes it possible to retain the white color. It has to be continuously moved before keema starts getting brown. Cooked in kaju paste, curd, khus khus and coconut, this is a one of its kind dish that you will ever eat.

Unlike urad dal, masoor dal is very easy to get to the pasty consistency. This khade masoor ki dal was so tasty that almost all of us non vegetarians took the second serving of the humble dal.

My favorite here was the khatte-meethe baingan. These mustard oil fried brinjal were cooked in jaggary and tamarind with the spicyness coming from juliennes of ginger and the whole garlic pod.

The mutton chaap pulao had tender mutton and chicken in methi where methi was cooked in water instead of bhoonoing it on tawa did not let it give a bitter taste. We ended the meal with gazar grated zarda rice.

I am fortunate to have dined with him. No doubt why his books have become a best sellers. Yes, recipe writers can cook too!


Food Critic and a Marketing Wizz who had a high profile career with leading MNC’s like HSBC, GE Capital etc, Pawan Soni comes across as a quintessential corporate employee. He left behind his successful career as the Vice President of a MNC... all for his love for food. He a WSET Level II wine connoisseur and a foodie who loves to eat anything under the sun. Besides being a food and travel writer for various food forums and magazines, he is the Founder and CEO of Indian Food Freak. As one of the initial bloggers who started his blog almost a decade ago, his website is currently one of the biggest food and travel blogs in the country. Pawan also conducts highly successful restaurant awards and recently concluded the 6th edition of The Big F restaurant awards. He won the best influencer awards in India by BBC Food Food Awards in 2018

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