We cannot say this enough- Lucknow is a cultural gold mine. A true heaven for foodies, it is the kind of city where you come to stuff your face, eat from sunrise to sunset and then eat some more. Lucknowi or Awadhi cuisine is highly influenced by the Mughals and the Nawabs who ruled the city hence, it is often very rich and wholesome.
Raising a cup to the city of Nawabs and the Nawabi cuisine, here’s a list of 9 dishes that you can truly enjoy only in Lucknow.
1. Galouti Kebab
Well who doesn’t know Tunday Kababi and his famous Galaouti/Galawati Kababs. These minced meatkebabs are so delicate they literally melt as soon as they touch your tongue. The secret- traditionally the meat is tenderized with raw papaya, which breaks down the fibers and gives you a buttery consistency. If you come to Lucknow, you just can’t miss these melt in your mouth delicacies.
2. Shahi Gosht Korma
Korma is a rich stew prepared with meat and often vegetables (navratan korma) to give a rich, creamy and tasty beyond words dish. What makes the Awadhi korma shaahi or royal are the many dry fruits used in the preparation of this dish. The sauce is slow cooked and made out of a thick cashew paste, making the shahi korma the dish o everyone’s dreams.
3. Seekh Kebab
Another Mughalayi speciality, Seekh kebabs are skewered minced meat mixed with fresh herbs and fragrant spices. The meat is extremely tender and shaping this around skewers is considered an art that cannot be easily mastered. The kebabs are delicate and smoky as they are grilled over charcoals. These kebabs make for the perfect snack and an extremely awesome kathi roll filling!
4. The authentic Awadhi Biryani
Long grained fluffy rice, flavoured with whole spices and cooked with the meat, a traditional Lucknowi/Awadhi Biryani is and will be the best thing you put in your mouth. Unlike any other biryani, this is very mild, the spices are mostly tied in a little ‘potli’ and taken out after they’ve flavoured the dish. The most distinguishing aspect of a traditional Lucknow ki Biryani is the fact that it is always served with a side of ‘salan’ sauce, onions and green chutney.
5. Band Gosht
If we talk about Awadhi or Mughlai cuisine, bandh gosht is something that you should surely indulge in. Prepared in an earthen pot, the dish is rich like most others in the Awadhi cuisine, something that can be enjoyed with a simple bread. Alamgir is an institution when it comes to bandh gosht or Mughlayi cuisine in general.
6. Kulcha Nihari
The Lucknowi breakfast staple, Kulcha Nihaari is a dish that will warm you up from within and keep your tummy full throughout the day. Traditionally made with paya or cow foot and cooked down for several hours, the dish is rich, gelatinous and bursting with spices. You can never go wrong with Rahim’s Kulcha Nihari in Chowk, they are the undisputed kings.
7. Awadhi Sheermal
Though available in a lot of North Indian places, much like the biryani, an Awadhi Sheermal differs in its preparation. Traditionally made with warm milk the dough goes through an intensive fermentation process called- Khameer which makes the bread softer and fluffier. Plus an Awadhi Sheermal is a little sweeter than Sheermals available anywhere else. Though treated like a dessert, the Sheermal is a sweet bread which can be enjoyed with any kind of spicy curry preparation.
8. Kaali Gajar ka Halwa
A winter delicacy and less popularly known sweet dish, the ‘Kaali gajar ka halwa’ or ‘Black carrot Halwa’ is the best thing about winters in Lucknow. This dish is made out or rare black or deep purple carrots that are sweeter and more dense in flavour. The dish is cooked for hours in ghee, milk sugar and then garnished with nuts and khoya. The dish not only looks good but tastes like the most delicious thing ever.
9. Lucknowi Chat
NO. We’re not talking about the much discussed basket chaat, it is wonderful, yes, but it is not the only kind of chaat to have in this flavour town. If you’re in Luknow and you don’t go make yourself sick eating all the kinds of chaat the city has to offer, why are you even in the city? Have some deliciously delectable Aaloo tikki, matar ki tikki, papdi chaat, khasta, matar ki chaat, dahi bhalla, sohaal, and the best of all- pani ke bataashe, not paani-puri that you stuff with potatoes and eat with sweet chutney, none of that crazy mix, just plain old bataasha stuffed with boiled white matar and filled with spicy and tangy water! Flavour bomb.
If you live in Lucknow or are visiting you should seriously try all of these mouth watering dishes and make most of your time in the city or life.