Lucknow, commonly known as the ‘Land of Nawabs’, is famous around the globe for its rich Awadhi cuisine and intricate chikankari. It is a foodie’s destination and a traveler’s delight. The city has given the nation sheermal, roomali roti, zarda, kebab paratha, tokri chaat, kormas, kebabs – of ample kinds, and many such delectable dishes.
Let’s take a tour of a few such delicacies which are famous worldwide, owing to their expert tutelage passed on from generation to generation.
Beginning with the sweetest of them all, makkhan malai is a special preparation which dissolves in your mouth even before you have had a chance to decipher its exact state. Loaded with dry fruits and nuts, the famous dish boasts of a unique process of making which takes place on full moon night and is a must-have.
The trademark of Lucknowi cuisine, you can expect a Kebab Paratha at every corner and in every alley, equally finger-linking-good, but the best being served at Tunday Kebabi. Interestingly, Tunday translates into ‘handicapped’ and derived its name because the first person who prepared the kebab was handicapped. Best served with roomali roti, they also go exceptionally well wrapped as a kebab paratha roll.
The city of Nawabs also offers a wide variety of lip smacking chaats, the most favorite snack of Indian janta. Available in many varieties and tastes, tokri chaat also known as basket chaat is prepared by placing and decorating the chaat preparation in a crisp basket-shaped outing and hence the name. It is the most unique and arguably the tastiest variant of chaat you can get your hands on while still in Lucknow.
Topping the charts of Lucknowi street food, biryani is something you just cannot miss to have while you are here. The natural taste of the spices is retained in the meat as it is cooked slowly, imbuing in the rich aroma. It is best served at Dastarkhwan, in Gomtinagar and at Idris, in Chowk.
Kulf , the Hindustani or desi version of ice- cream, gets a refined and sophisticated taste in the Nawabi city. It is served with falooda and is one of the main attractions of the city. Aminabad, being the Chandani Chowk of Lucknow, offers the best kulfi in the city, at Prakash ki kulfi.
Special enough to need a separate mention from the endless collection of kebabs, galawati kebabs owe their popularity to a rather peculiar origin. They were first prepared exclusively for a Nawab who did not have teeth, hence they are soft textured and melt in your mouth, exactly as their name suggests. They taste heavenly and MUST be high on your must try list when in Lucknow!
Although lassi is best known to be a Punjabi drink, it doesn’t fail to secure a place in the must-have list of Lucknow’s specialties. Sai Lassi corner, in Chowk, is famous for its thick and creamy lassi, topped with dry fruits and nuts.
(To throw in another pointer, try their Chole-Bhature while you are there. I bet you will not stop at one! )
Any Bollywood movie or Indian television serial set in the backdrop of apna U.P is incomplete without depicting someone with reddened lips, relishing a paan with the quintessential accent.
Well, it may be the reason for red walls, red roads, even red windshields, but no meal in Lucknow is complete till you have had a paan.
It is must that you relish the famous refresher after every meal, but make sure you are not wearing your favorite shirt!