The rich in taste and magical in its aroma: our best picks from Awadhi cuisine

The true beauty of any cuisine is in its originality. And that’s why Awadhi cuisine conjures taste like no other – it is sumptuous, flavoursome and till today holds it authentic taste. The Awadhi cuisine in Lucknow, though created ages ago, still gives the feel of being served right out of a nawab’s kitchen. However, due to great influence of Mughal cooking techniques, Awadhi cuisine is quite a melange of Persia, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Hyderabadi royal food.

The cuisine surprises you with delicacies both vegetarian & non-vegetarian. Mutton, paneer and spices such as cardamom and saffron are the frequent ingredients in Awadhi cuisine.

A Restaurant Manager in New Delhi suggests, “The Lucknowi or Awadhi cuisine is the consequence of the Nawabs who have governed the town for more than centuries.” Mughlai, continental, Chinese and other Indian products are served in his restaurant. “Food from Mughlai is prepared in thick white gravy and is very rich,” he added.

Dum Pukht, one of the features of this cuisine, involves sealing the ingredients over slow fire in large haandis and allowing the ingredients to cook in their own juices and aromas.

Awadhi cuisine’s richness lies not only in the variety of cuisine, but also in its ingredients used. The chefs commonly known in Awadh as Khansama transformed the traditional Persian word dastarkhwan meaning a dining spread with elaborate dishes such as kababs, kormas, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and parathas.

Many people are of view that Nawabi cuisine is synonymous with non-vegetarian food, however that’s not completely the case. There is a plethora of vegetarian dishes in the form of subz begum bahar, paneer gulmohar and khus ke khaas kabab, firdousi aloo dum pukht.

 And for the non-vegetarian lovers, the cuisine has a fine array of dishes like shami kabab, nihar gosht, biryani, mutton and many more including the famous dessert of the region, phirni, rabadi and the special meetha paan.

So, does knowing the wide range of dishes available in Awadhi cuisine confuse you from to where to start? Here are few of the best picks from the Awadhi food palette which will make you crave it more:   

Zarda

This sweet cum dessert is made with special basmati rice flavored with cardamom sugar syrup. Zarda is quite a royal dish. It is a special dish made during festive occasions or other celebrations at homes in Lucknow.  The saffron color and taste of the dessert is quite refreshing and mesmerizing. It is garnished beautifully with chandi vark (silvery layer) and dry fruits. It is a must have dish if you have special love for sweets.

Shahi Tudka

The word shahi always means royal, and that’s what this dish is. The dessert is made of bread as its base with the topping of rabri and dry fruits, flavored with saffron and cardamom. The deep fried bread at the base is soaked in cardamom flavored sugar syrup. The aroma and presentation of this delicacy are amazing.

Makhmali Murg

The sauce of this delicacy is made of milk and cream which gives it a white color. The pieces of chicken are soaked into this creamy sauce. The flavor of the sauce is sweetish and fascinating.

The creamier the sauce the better it tastes.

Murg Musallam

Murg Musallam is a stuffed roasted chicken. The chicken is first marinated for several hours and stuffed with boiled eggs and dry fruits, which is further cooked in different spices. This dish is considered as favorite one of the royal family. The dish is garnished beautifully with chandi vark.

Seek Kebabs

Kebabs have always been an important part of Awadhi cuisine. These are special kebabs made of lamb. The lamb is blended with different special spices and cooked on the charcoal which provides it the tenderness and juicy flavor. The aroma of these kebabs is mouth watering.

Tunday Ke Kebabs

These are categorized under must try dish of Lucknow. Their ancestors had served the Nawabs of Lucknow. Preparation of these kebabs is very special and secretive, which they had been following since many years. These kebabs will melt in your mouth leaving indelible the flavor of each and every spice.

Shami Kebab

This kebab exists both as vegetarian and non-vegetarian dish. The minced meat or paneer is blended with all the “khadda masala” to give it an Awadhi twist. These are so common in Lucknow that now it is considered as street food.

Biryani

One of mu favorite, it is a dish consisting of rice cooked with meat, different spices, and dry fruits. It is cooked in a special way known as “dum”. The dish is always served with dahi raita and green chutney which adds up its flavor. The garnishing of a dish is done in a very different way i.e. with sliced up fried onions.

Warqi Paratha

It’s a layered paratha which is usually served with curry based dishes. It makes the perfect combination with non-vegetarian curry.

Kulfi Faluda

It is the most favorite dessert of Lucknowites. It is the combination of saffron flavored kulfi which is the iced milk and dry fruits garnished with falooda. The pleasant aroma of aroma and scented faluda will refresh you. It completes your five- course meal perfectly.

Mutton Korma

The dish is prepared by cooking mutton in the spicy gravy made out of dry fruits, yogurt, and cream. The mutton is cooked on a low flame so that the spices added to the curry add its flavors to it. The mutton becomes tender and juicy in taste. It is served with paratha or rice and tastes delicious.

Mutton do pyaza

The specialty of this dish is that its sauce is prepared of onions. The content of onions in its sauce provides it a very different flavor. The spices added to its sauce increase the aroma and deliciousness of the dish.

Malai Ki Gilori

As the name suggests, this dessert is made of malai with the stuffing of dry fruits and mawa. The flavor of cardamom is quite pleasant. The outer covering of malai is decorated with an edible silver coating which is also known as vark and pista

Nihari Ghost

It’s a dish made of spicy sauce and tender meat. The content of sauce of this dish is more with tender mutton soaked into it. The spicy sauce of this dish will blow your mind.

Nimona

The curry of a dish is made out of grinded peas with pieces of potato soaked into it. Every single vegetarian who tries it for the first time loves it. It is usually served with boiled rice and both make a great combination.  

Galaouti Kebab

The name itself reveals the secret of this delicacy. The grinded flesh of lamb or beef mixed with the variety of spices provides it a perfect taste. The fried kebabs melt down as soon as you keep it on your tongue, reviving all the taste buds in your mouth.