QUBANI KA MEETHA IN PUNE
What’s the perfect ending to a rich and spicy Mughlai meal? A cool soothing Falooda, perhaps!
And after fiery Kolhapuri fare? A chilled Mastani, maybe, to quench the fires within!
And do you know what the ideal finale to a Hyderabadi Biryani repast is? It is a unique refreshing apricot-based sweet-dish dessert called Qubani Ka Meetha, or Khubani Ka Meetha, spell it whichever way you like. And you get it only in Hyderabad. That’s what I thought, till yesterday afternoon, when famished after a tiring bout of shopping on Main Street, I entered my all time favorite eatery, George Restaurant on East Street, and spotted on the “Today’s Special” menu board, written as the last item – Qubani Ka Meetha.
Now first a bit about George “The House of Quality Food, since 1936” – as the logo says. When I was small boy, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, once in a while, my father used to bring us for a meal to East Street in Pune Camp, to Kamling for Chinese, or Latif or Kwality for Mughlai, and after our meal we always had a meetha paan at George Paanwala at the entrance to George Restaurant. I used to peer inside to see the animated expressions of the hungry hoi-polloi patrons vigorously devouring their food, and yearn to taste the fare, but it was only in the late 1970’s that I became a regular patron and began to savor the mouthwatering cuisine served at George. Since then, there has been a remarkable metamorphosis in the ambiance and variety of cuisine and George has transformed into a decent affordable family restaurant.
Having decided to end my meal with the legendary Hyderabadi dessert Qubani Ka Meetha, I ordered a Mutton Biryani to pave the way. Well, the Biryani at George is first-rate, but not as superb as those I have tasted in Hyderabad, or even as good as that served by Olympia or Shalimar in Mumbai, or Dorabjee, Blue Nile, or Good Luck in Pune. It certainly passed the spread-test with flying colours, and tasted wholesome, maybe, a wee bit bland. Now-a-days, I’d rather savor the inimitable tender succulent Rotisserie Chicken, a Mix-Grill, a Roast, or a Mughlai Gravy dish with Naan, at George, but right now I focus on mindfully relishing the Biryani in front of me, enjoying every morsel.
The Qubani Ka Meetha, or Khubani Ka Meetha, is served. I lovingly caress the bowl – it’s nicely chilled. They’ve put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. I wish they’d served it with chilled freshly whipped cream [malai] as they do in Hyderabad. I push aside the ice cream, dig deep, scoop some of the darkish brown dessert on my tongue, and close my eyes as the luscious tang, sublime flavor and invigorating aroma of the apricots permeates within me. [Qubani, or Khubani, means Apricots or Jardaloo]. Something tickles my taste buds – it’s a pistachio nut – delectable as it disintegrates and releases its characteristic taste and the contrasting flavors mingle on my tongue. I blend in a bit of vanilla ice cream, and slowly and deliberately, relish every bit of the ambrosial Qubani Ka Meetha as it glides on my tongue. Today I’m not going to have a Paan, for I’ve had an ideal end to a delicious meal.
Dear fellow Foodies, please do let us know if you know any places in your town where one can relish this splendid legendary Hyderabadi dessert – Qubani Ka Meetha.