This is probably gonna be my favourite post of all times, because it’s on a topic I love, food and of home. Lucknow is where my mother’s family stays and has always been a second home to me, with me running off there whenever possible to spend some time with my cousins. Unfortunately while this visit was more than a month ago, my grandfather’s passing put a break on me posting anything.
During this trip I made it my personal agenda to try out every kind of food I could and make an entry on that. I must say, I have always loved Awadhi cuisine, with its spices and rich kebab and curries, and oh man, my mouth is watering again. However, instead of just talking about the traditional cuisine, I decided to write on everything I managed to taste, including the lucknawi chaat and some continental and chinese as well. My favourites on this trip, included:
- Dastarkhwan, Lalbagh; Lucknow: Dastarkhwan is a restaurant that specializes in Awadhi cuisine. While there is a restaurant of the same name, there are also a number of smaller eating joints from the same franchise along the road. I unfortunately, don’t have photographs of this place, but this place is a must go. The setting is simple and rustic, with a simple roof and a bunch of tables looking onto the kitchen. The menu card of the place is also extremely simple, with only non-vegetarian dishes on offer, so for all the vegetarians out there, I am sorry (no I am not). The simplicity of the place thankfully does not quell the flavour of the quality of the food. We tried the Shammi Kebab (a soft round kebab made with mince and spices and cooked on a pan), the Kali Mirch Chicken (chicken black pepper) and Chicken Masala ( a spicy gravy based chicken dish) with roomali roti ( a thin soft and huge bread). I must say, even now I can taste the amaziness, the meat was perfectly cooked, the spices wonderfully balanced and each dish made you want to order it again.
- Tunde Kebabi: This eating joint in the older sections of the city, in Aminabad and has been known for its kebabs for more than 100 years. The speciality of this joint is its beef kebabs (Tunde Kebabs) which are supposed to truly be of the melt in your mouth category. Foodies like me, swear on this place, and no one’s trip to the city of Nawabs is complete without a visit to this place. Despite this, we had a little trouble locating this place, because of two main reasons, one; its very small and two; the Hindus avoid the place because it serves beef on its menu. However, since I am not one who has such qualms, I went right ahead. The menu is extremely limited, with the dishes on offer including tunde kebabs made from beef and mutton, roast chicken, sweets and breads. We of course, tried the roast chicken and the mutton kebabs with the breads, Biryani and Phirni (rice pudding with cardamom and Kesar flavouring). The food was definitely amazing, the kebabs did indeed melt in our mouth, the meat was so wonderfully cooked that it was falling of the bone and the phirni had the most amazing flavour ever. Of course, for me, tunde kebabs wouldn’t really land up on top in the hierarchy of favourite kebabs, but that is due to my taste preferences.
- The last Awadhi preparation I had this time was what is called a Sheermal. Sheermal is a classical bread, much like the famous Naan, whose dough is kneaded with milk instead of water or oil, along with sugar and saffron. I don’t remember the name of the joint from where we had it, as it was take away, but it is readily available in any good Awadhi eating joint. Sheermal is best accompanied by kebabs or curries.
- Chaat Chaupati: our whole family is in love with chaat and street food, so of course my food trip in Lucknow had to have atleast one entry from this category. Chaat Chaupati, is an eating joint near Butler Palace, and is a frequented spot by most of lucknow’s population. The place, though a little high-end, provides amazing chaat options, including Gol Gappas, Papri Chaat, Dahi Bhalla, Tikkis, Kulfi and their signature dish, the Basket Chaat.
- Lucknow Diaries Cafe: Last but not the least, we decided to also try out some of the upcoming trends in the area, including a book cafe, called Lucknow Diaries which was opened recently by a young brother-sister pair, near PK Bhawan.
According to the owners, this cafe was started as an attempt to allow people to read and enjoy meaningful conversations over cups of tea or coffee. This simple looking joint, is done up in a contemporary manner, with a number of select classic literary and modern works available for those who wish to read, and also allows for enough peace for children to do their homework!
The focus of this cafe, in no way is the food, but rather taking out time to relax and enjoy the little things in life.
While the food is nothing to write home about, with most of the menu being taken up by simple sandwiches or items that are packaged, its done well and with a heart, which I think should be the aim of food always.
Not to drag on any further, I would just say, that this list is just the tip of the Iceberg! If you are in the city of the Nawabs, do make sure to try out the amazing variety of food that this place has to offer. Hopefully one day I will get to do a v.2 of this blog, with new entries and even more variety!