Caroline Hurry
Caroline Hurry

Head chef at The Dukes, Dubai, Faizan Ali is currying favour with the cognoscenti

An edgy epicurean who has worked in hotels from Bali to Mauritius, Chef Faizan from Delhi, learnt the art of Indian cuisine at the elbow of his father, Chef Farman Ali, who came from a long line of Indian chefs.

Faizen Ali. Picture: Peter Berg-Munch
Faizen Ali, when he was still working as Head Chef at the One&Only in Mauritius

Charming, and handsome in a Freddy Mercury kind of a way, Faizen specialises in the Mughlai cuisine, first developed by the imperial chefs of the Mughal Empire in north India. It comprises an elaborate array of dishes ranging from mild to spicy with a variety of accompaniments. Chef Faizen’s modern spin on this age-old culinary concept transforms it into a fusion of succulent kebabs, kormas and parathas. Such acts of epicurean larceny have put him at the top of his game.

Eating well is something we can all do at home. What Chef Faizan offers is less about satisfying appetites and more about the pleasurable multi-sensory experience that eating should be.

“The flavours of Mughlai cuisine vary from mild to spicy, gentle and soothing to sharp and pungent. It’s all about slow cooking and the leisurely roasting of spices that differentiates this cuisine from others,” says Chef Faizan.

A choice of three chutney dips with the papadums
A choice of three chutney dips with the papadums

“We often use different shapes of Indian utensils to cook different dishes. For example, the Degchi is used to cook qorma, but only Lagan can be used to prepare Biryani. We also only use certain metal utensils when preparing Mughlai cuisine; galvanized brass Lagan for Biryani, Iron Kadhai for frying meat and clay for cooking breads.”

Some of Chef Faizan’s favourite dishes include Gosht Nizami Dalcha, lamb pieces cooked with Bengal gram lentils and chillies, Galouti Kebab with Ulte tawe ka Parantha, a unique delicacy of Lucknow (a city in India) that includes melt-in-the mouth fried lamb patties served with saffron bread cooked on an inverted griddle. With the abundance of fresh seafood available in Mauritius, Chef Faizan includes Mahi Anarkali, a fish kebab flavoured with pomegranate and ginger juice, and Jheenga Zebunnisa, scampi marinated with chilli and garlic.

Faizan Ali's succulent lamb wittily presented on a banana leaf.
Faizan Ali’s succulent lamb wittily presented on a banana leaf.