Culinary skills too reached the heights of excellence as the Nawabs were not only gracious hosts but also extremely fond of good, tasty and nutritious food. The art of slow cooking was perfected in Awadh.
The Lucknow Dastarkhwan would not be complete unless it had the following dishes: Korma (braised meat in thick gravy), Salan (a gravy dish of meat or vegetable), Keema (minced meat), Kababs (pounded meat fried or roasted over a charcoal fire), Bhujia (cooked vegetables), Dal, Pasanda (fried slivers of very tender meat, usually kid, in gravy). Rice is cooked with meat in the form of a Pulao or served plain. Lucknow is known for its large varieties of Pulaos, Yakhni Pulao and Korma Pulao are the popular ones. There would also be a variety of breads: Rotis, Naans, Sheermals, Rumali Roti, Paranthas, Kulchas and Taftans. Desserts comprise Gullati (rice pudding), Kheer (milk sweetened and boiled with whole rice to thick consistency), Sheer Brunj, (a rich, sweet rice dish boiled in milk), Muzaffar (vermicelli fried in ghee and garnished with almonds and saffron) and Halwas garnished with Malai (cream). The varieties of dishes would increase with one’s status.
Utensils are made either of silver or copper. Kababs are cooked in a Mahi Tava (large, round shallow pan), using a Kafgir which is a flat, long handled ladle for turning Kababs and Paranthas. Bone China plates and dishes were also used in Lucknow since the times of the Nawabs. Water was normally sipped from copper or silver tumblers and not glasses. The seating arrangement, while eating, was always on the floor where beautifully embroidered Dastarkhwans were spread on mats or carpets or even Chandnis (white linen). Sometimes this arrangement was made on a low-raised wooden tables called Takahts.
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