Born in Calcutta's oldest Shia Muslim family drawing her lineage from the Royal family of Awadh, Manzilat Fatima is the daughter of Dr. Kaukub Qudr Meerza, grandson of King Birjis Qudr son of Jaan e Alam Wajid Ali Shah and Begum Hazrat Mahal (Queen of Awadh and freedom fighter of India's First War of Independence).
She studied in Aligarh Public School, Aligarh and completed graduation in English (Hons) from Women's College, Aligarh Muslim University. After returning to her hometown she got enrolled in Calcutta University for her Master's in English. A few years after her marriage, she completed a 5-year LL.B course in 2002.
When one hails from a royal and rich heritage like Awadh's, one is bound by a lot of commitment and conviction to take forward the legacy of its ancestors. Apart from the rich cultural heritage of Awadh and that of Wajid Ali Shah's contribution to poetry, art, music, and dance. Awadh to a poet may have looked like a beautiful bride in all its niceties. In the middle of 19th century during the reign of Wajid Ali Shah, Awadh touched its zenith in patronage to all forms of arts including poetry, dance, drama, music, food and Ganga Jamni Tehzeeb (the social harmony and mutual respect between all citizens irrespective of their religion or caste) of which Lucknow was the centre.
Food in Awadh was like a sport for the Nawabs, and the kitchens like the fields with Bawarchis and Rakabdars as the players! There was healthy competition, and challenges were thrown at each other to exhibit better gastronomic skills. A lot of money was spent in maintaining the Royal kitchens and for hiring the best experts available from the culinary field.
The Royal Family of Awadh
ABOUT MY FAMILY
“Jis pe ye Taj e Murassa tha wo Sar kaisa tha,
auratein aisi thin jis ghar ki wo ghar kaisa tha..”
Dr. M Kaukab Qudr
(Great Grand Son of Wajid Ali Shah & Begum Hazrat Mahal
HOMECHEF & RESTAURATEUR
Preserver of Awadh Royal Cuisine
Cooking for my children, family and friends was always a pleasure for me. The food was always greatly appreciated by one and all. Compliments poured in always! But the turn came after my launch in the Pop Up mentioned earlier. People started approaching me to sample my food, some came up with ideas of catering food or even starting a restaurant.
Initially, I was quite hesitant but gradually started doing small orders on special request by friends. My confidence kept growing. Recognition by various food forums, television, and print media started pouring in giving me the necessary push to take up the Home Chef title. It also gave me a good reason to restore our family's lost existence in the public eye and what better way to the heart of people than through the taste buds.
It feels good to see how people have fondly responded to my efforts as an inheritor of the recipes of the Royal Family of Awadh in Kolkata. The food I cook today is completely downloaded to me by my Amma who in turn has learned from my Dadijan (her mother-in-law). I make conscious effort to not recreate what I have learnt from Amma, because innovation of the authentic is not my forte! If my food and the Royal Awadhi Cuisine stands out from the rest of the food, it means it needs to remain that way.
So here I am cooking away to glory as a Home Chef!
The taste of Awadh in Kolkata
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"THE BLUE-BLOODED BIRYANI"
“Manzilat had made her ingredients work to the fullest to show why the biryani of Kolkata is so magical, regal and yet subtle and comforting.
The plate that she served me was a true heirloom and did justice to the legacy of a family to whom we biryani lovers owe a great debt of gratitude.
— Kalyan Karmakar,
Author & Food Blogger (FinelyChopped)