This Christmas we did a food tour in Lucknow, a city recognized for its royal culture, architectural brilliance and the especially delicious lucknowi food is like a pilgrimage.
The traditional cuisine of Lucknow highly favoured by the Nawabs of Lucknow during their reign. The royal chefs were trained to render an exquisite culinary spread that included some of the richest and most exotic preparations in the country.
The cooking techniques of char-grilling and dum pukht (slow cooking over a low flame), and the equitable combination of aromatic and hot spices they developed gave the Lucknowi food a distinct flavour. Today, the elaborate way of cooking and presenting a Lucknowi dish is a skill that has taken severe, rigorous practice and something that has been passed down for generations over the years.
An essential gourmet central for every foodie, the city’s cuisine includes a wide range of mouth-watering relishes like kebabs, nihari-kulcha, zarda, sheermal, ulta tawa ke paratha, kachoris, ghewar, nimish and many more charming preparations to appease your taste buds.
Mornings in Lucknow reserved for the favourite puri sabzi served with jalebi or a glass of Lassi. For the rest of the day, it is Lucknow’s traditional kebabs, kormas, avadhi biryanis and traditional flatbreads that is the main attraction.
Other than its excellent kebabs, some of which are made only with advance notice (like the burras, patili), the city has some good food for vegetarians too.
For those who happen to be in Lucknow and want to explore the city’s culinary culture, here is a list of delectable must-try delicacies from the ‘City of Nawabs’, as well the iconic eateries can be tried.
Raheem’s Hotel- Started in the 18th century by Raheem Saheb, Raheem’s hotel is world famous for its Nihari-Kulcha. For the unaware, nihari is a robust meat curry, stewed overnight with seasonings & assorted herbs on a low fire, that served with a warm, fluffy kulcha. Sheermal, Kakori Kabab, seekh kabab and kheer are also much-loved delicacies served at this eatery.
Price of Nihari- Kulcha is Rs 50.
Wahid’s Biryani- Prepared in the grand Awadhi style, the textures of Lucknowi biryani are softer and the spices milder. The first step requires making a yakhni merchandise from meat that slowly cooked in water soaked with spices for more than two hours. That is the reason behind their biryani recipe being moist tender and delicately flavoured than other biryanis. They have total five outlets in Lucknow and prices may vary. Average Biryani Cost is Rs 160.
Dastarkhwan- Dastarkhwan in Hazratganj is the excellent place to experiment authentic Mughlai food from Awadh. From lip-smacking galawat kebab, Tangri chicken, chicken masala to chicken biryani and Shami kabab, this eatery is a non-vegetarian’s delight. However, the star of its mouthwatering menu is undoubtedly the boti kebab – small pieces of boneless mutton slow-cooked in a thick gravy. Interestingly, did you know that dastarkhwan in Persian means a well-laid-out spread of dishes?
Prices of Boti Kebab- Rs.280, Kakori Kebab- 200, Shami Kebab- 250, Tangri Chicken- Rs.250
Tundey Kababi- The famous kebab of Lucknow is Tunday Kababi’s galawati. What makes this kebab irresistibly tempting is the heavy use of spices like black pepper, cardamom and star anise, among others. These spices are added to a heavy, thick paste of papaya, yoghurt and gram flour, mixed in with minced meat and made into small patties that shallow-fried on a sizeable cast-iron girdle heated by smouldering charcoal. The galawati was first cooked for an ageing nobleman with no teeth by the one-armed chef Haji Murad Ali, who also founded the legendary restaurant in the old quarters of Aminabad.
Price of one plate of Galawati Kebab with Mughali Parantha – Rs.130
Idrees Biryani- Located in one of Lucknow’s most historic areas, Chowk, this is a tiny and partially-hidden eatery serves an unmatched range of Mughlai flavours, prepared with fresh local seasonings. The restaurant was founded by a proficient biryani maker, Mohammad Idris, back in the 60s. The secret of Idris’s excellent mutton biryani is the use of milk, herbs and saffron in the recipe which cooked in a big copper degchi.
Mutton Biryani Full Plate -Rs.150
Idrees Picture Credits- Anuj Tiwari
Prakash Ki Kulfi- This place needs no introduction. This site has been serving the best Kulfi Faluda since last 50 years. A must try dessert after tasty galawati kebab in Aminabad.The price range is Rs 50 for a half plate and Rs.100 for a full plate.