Hazratganj is the hot-pot of Lucknow’s famous Nawabi-Awadhi culture and the fast paced life Lucknow has recently been introduced to. Knowing a city and knowing a city through its food are two completely different things. If you want to truly explore the city, it’s culture and it’s past and present delve into its food. Look at what people eat on a daily basis, which food joints are popular and which restaurant chain is mushrooming the most and you would know the city inside out.
Much like any other city, Lucknow’s food culture too tells a tale about it and if you truly want to hear all the gastronomical stories Lucknow has to offer, go to wise Hazratganj and she will tell you tales that you won’t hear anywhere else. This is where you will find the true Awadh, the basket chat eating, chai slurping, noshing on delicious biryani Awadh who won’t be found elsewhere in the city.
Kebabs and Rolls
If you come to Lucknow or live here, it is almost impossible to ignore or not fall in love with the delicious kebabs the city has to offer. We fall a little more heads over heels with the delectable juicy and meaty bites of heavenly goodness and flavour. If you too are looking for some, read on:
Dastarkhwan is not a name we are unaware of, it is an icon of a restaurant in Lucknow and we absolutely adore it. They are known for many things but we cannot seem to have enough of their juicy kebabs, chargrilled to perfection! Open-Air Restaurant is another favourite when it comes to kebabs, you cannot go wrong with a delicious mutton seekh or a tangdi here.
For perfectly wrapped rolls, we suggest the good and dependable Rollarappa, the rolls chain has had us smitten from the beginning and we would suggest you try their classics: chicken tikka, paneer tikka, mutton seekh and egg masala. TBH we love them. Sahu in Hazratganj is the perfect place to grab some deliciousness rolled up in a paratha, we would like to give them props for keeping is simple, classic, yet oh-so delicious!
Special Mention: Now we know a chaap is not a kebab, but the one at Sahu is so beautifully made, it’ll make you tear up. So, if you looking to indulge into a delicate piece of meat, that has been tenderized and cooked to perfection, head to Sahu.
Mughalayi Essentials: Tandoori Chicken, Gosht and Biryani
Okay, so when we talk of tasting the city’s culture how can we leave the age old Mughlayi behind. If you’re looking for some flavourful, aromatic and succulent dum biryani, which is layered to perfection, head to the classic Dastarkwan, Naushijan or Royal Cafe. The subtle art of making the classic Awadhi biryani with fluffy rice and soft succulent mutton/chicken pieces, can be thoroughly enjoyed at the said restaurants. Make sure to ask for your extra saalan, raita and onions, because what is an Awadhi biryani without the side of extra salan.
If you’re a fan of the charred tandoori chicken, beautifully grilled on open flames and marinated to softness or the spicy gosht that’s swimming in a thick-rich gravy, make your way to Dastarkhwaan, Open-Air, Naushijan and Sahu. You will not go wrong with the classics, they are called classics for a reason.
Cooling Milk Shake/Thandai/Milk Badaam
Summers are officially upon us and nothing helps more than a chilling beverage that takes the edge off and helps us cool down a bit. To help quench your thirst as well as satisfy that sweet tooth, head to Raju, Chhedilal, Chaudhari Shakes for the necessary cooling down. Raju is known for their Thandai and Milk Badaam, they are the absolute king of flavours and you cannot go wrong here.
Whereas Chhedilal and Chaudhary shakes are known for their cooling fruity and classic milk shakes. Be it a vanilla, chocolate, coffee, mango or strawberry you’ll find it all here. And you know they’re good because they were here before the likes of keventers and milkshake factory graced the city.
How can we even mention a food tour and leave chat out of our list. People of Lucknow love their chats, from the evergreen paani ke batashe, aaloo tikki and matar to the more exotic basket chat, papdi chat and palak patta chat, we’ve had and loved them all. So it would be absolutely obnoxious to not talk about chat when we talk about Hazratganj.
At King of Chat, Moti Mahal, Jain, Shukla and Dixit (we know they are all surnames but believe us they are amazing AF) you’ll find the best of everything you’re looking for. From crispy aaloo tikki to tangy matar and spicy paani ke batashe, these people have a plethora of options. We recommend King of Chat, Shukla and Dixit’s aloo tikki, matar and papdi chat while Moti Mahal and Jain’s paani ke batashe.
And we all know, if you’re looking for basket chat you beeline to Royal Cafe and won’t be disappointed.
Chai drives Lucknow, if you see us all high and happy, know that we’ve had a steaming cuppa awesomeness. You’d probably go straight to Sharma if you hear ‘Chai’ and Hazratganj in the same line, but honestly we are over the entire Sharma gimmick. The tea here WAS the talk of town, it was the staple, it was, was being the keyword here-Sharma today has simply lost its way.
So if you are looking for a great cup of tea and/or a buttery bun, we’d recommend Shukla, Prem, Kevval (behind Royal Sky) to satisfy your chai craving. These places do justice to chai, tea leaves brewed in a giant pot, hissing-bubbling and simmering away to make us go cray-cray over it.
Khasta-kachori is a breakfast staple of this city, especially for vegetarians. People love them some deep fried oily goodness in the morning. The heavy breakfast keeps us going through the day. Bajpayee, Shukla, Ajay Gupta who is better known as “GPO ke paas wale cycle wale bhaiya”, Parampara and Neelkanth should on top of your list when you’re looking to find spicy aaloo, crunchy khasta, spice filled kachoris and deep fried golden poodiyan.
We are absolutely in love with Neelkanth’s khasta, paneer pakoras and Bajpayee poodi bhandaar’s aaloo-poodi.
Since, we are writing about a food tour, we cannot overlook our obsession with oriental cuisine. If like us, green chicken curry, hot garlic, soy vinegar and dumplings are a staple of your diet, head to Wok to Remember, Jone Hing, Royal Cafe and Chopsticks.
Wok to Remember is our top pick, the way they make Chinese and Asian is beyond us. It is just pure bliss in a box, you can customize things, make them healthier or simply go for the classics. Wok will not disappoint you. We recommend trying their Chicken dimsums (best in town) and the Kung pao Chicken for an experience you will not forget easily.
Jone Hing is another gem of a place that does justice to the cuisine and makes us all warm and comfortable with the many soups, noodles and stir fries. They are the definition of comfort food.
Royal Cafe and Chopsticks are right there with the other two, though a tiny bit Indianised, their versions have us hooked, we are the addicts and they- the dealers.
Jalebi is an answer to every food question. Need breakfast? Have jalebi. An afternoon snack-get some jalebis. Need a dessert? Well you know by now. Get a jalebi already.
For a deep fried orange jalebi, that is not just crispy, but sweet enough, pretty enough and dainty enough, head to Neelkanth, Parampara or Moti Mahal and you will have the jalebi of your dreams.
Hazratganj is full of good food and great food places to try. Some though, didn’t find their way into specific categories, we would like to make a special mention for the classic restaurants that have forever made Ganjing a much more fun experience for us.
Marksmen’s South Indian, CCD’s iconic colourful exteriors and the dependable coffee, Rovers’ thali and mutton burger, Cool break’s Chinese and GPO ke dahi bade, will forever have a place in our heart and our stomachs.
So before we come up with another guide, head to Hazratganj and make a food-trip out of your day. Keep a watch on this place for more.