What do you correlate the City of Nawabs with when it comes to food? Probably kebabs or biryanis will be your prompt reply. Hold on….. Nawabs were the ardent lovers of sweet delicacies as well. Indeed, there were khansamas (cooks who used to make a trail of sweet dishes which Nawabs devour after having their main food). The degree of finesse of Lucknow cuisine can be judged just by looking at its sweets and desserts.
It is said that both the Hindu halwais (cooks) and Muslim rakabdars (cooks in Persian language) have resulted in a confluence of expertise in the making of exquisite sweet varieties. Sohan Halwa, Shahi Tukre, Sewain, Balai ke Tukre, Barfi, Peda and Imarti are just a few varieties that they had come up with. These sweets used to be milk based and a liberal use of rose water, silver leaf and green cardamoms gave them a better taste and flavour.
On your trip to Lucknow, do not miss having these Laziz-e-Lucknow when you are in Lucknow.
This heavenly dessert melts into your mouth and vanishes. The flavoured makhan malai is garnished with nuts and dried milk called Khoya is sprinkled. The presentation of this exclusive Lucknow dessert will make you drool as soon as you catch site of it.
The dish is covered by big conical glass funnel and it is partially draped with red-coloured cloth. It is right to term this delicacy as a creamy effervescence that is more tantalizing and enticing when saffron is added to it. It is garnished with the fresh flakes of almonds and pistachios that make it tempting. Some people say that Mathura is the place where this sweet dish is originated. Being the birth place of Lord Krishna, it is the place where makhan or butter had come from. But, Lucknow added a new flavour to it and it is that innovation which gave birth to Makhan Malai.
The Indian rice pudding made up of grounded fine grained basmati rice is a real delight. The rice paste is cooked in a heavy bottom pan till it thickens. Finally cardamom powder is added and it is garnished with chopped almonds, saffron and pistachios.
This exclusive Awadhi delicacy is taken out in the pure and clean clay ‘handis’ traditionally which were called ‘kaghazi’. The kaghazi handis were kept in the dastatkhan of the Nawabs and used to be one of their favourite sweet dishes. Despite owning the ultra-expensive utensils, the Nawabs of Lucknow preferred to have it in the handis as it enhanced the aroma. When rose water (an essential ingredient of the dish) is mixed with the earth like smell of the handis it begins to taste and smell very pleasant.
Zarda is a traditional sweet dish of Lucknow that is made by boiling the rice with the food colours, milk and sugar. It is flavoured with almonds, pistachios, raisins and cardamoms. The name zarda is originated from an Urdu word called zard which means yellow. The multiple food colours are added in the rice and hence the delicacy looks very tempting. You can add dried milk (khoya), nuts, raisins and other nuts.
The history of this exclusive Awadh dish dates back to Mughals. Sometimes a variation is made to the dish where fried meat pieces known as ‘Mutanjan’ It is said that this used to be the most favourite dish of the Mughal Emperor ‘Shahjahn and was made on his request exclusively.
Shahi Tukda means royal morsel. If you are on a gastronomic tour to Lucknow, do not miss having this amazingly delicious dish. It is an innovation that dates back to some 150 years ago in the court of Mughals. It was the time when instead of bread wholesome flat bread made up of wheat flour is used instead of bread. The dish got its present form somewhere in the year 1930 when the sliced bread was invented.
In the present form of Shahi Tukda, bread slices are fried (deep or shallow) till they get golden brown and then they are dipped in sugary syrup. Finally they are coated with rabdi (sweetened condensed milk). Saffron is added for the sweetness and aroma.
One of the most famous dishes to Lucknow that is hard to resist is Malai gilori or Malai paan. Ram Asrey Sweets that is century old and one of the most notable sweet shops of Lucknow had come with this innovation which became one of the most widely consumed sweets in the city. This the oldest sweets shop of the city that came into being in the year 1805.