The Nawabs of Awadh introduced a new way of cooking known as the dum style. As per dum style, food is to be cooked in low flame so as to retain its original flavours. Cooking over slow fire for long hours also ensure that the food is thoroughly cooked and the spices get evenly roasted thus adding an edge to the flavour.
The creator of today’s Lucknow is Nawab Asaf-ud Daula whose favourite pastime was to perfect his culinary skills. Apparently, it was the Nawab who introduced this Dumpukth style of cooking. Apart from the regular spices used in other Indian cuisine, Awadhi cuisine is known for its unusual and uncommon spice ingredients like sandal wood, rose petal powder, bayberry, dried lemon grass, fox nuts, ittar, alum, clotted cream, vetiver, gold leaf and silver leaf.
Some unique utensils are used to cook this special form of cuisine.
- Mahi tawa are especially designed for preparing kebabs. It has a flat bottom with raised edges. It is round in shape. Mahi tawa is also used for any other food items that require heat produced from both end when covered.
- Seeni is a round tray used to cover Mahi tawa and lagan. Burning charcoal are spread on top of the tray and it acts as a lid for the utensils. Seeni is mostly used when the food requires indirect heat from all sides.
- Lagan is used to heat whole meat or large chunks of meat. It is round in shape with a shallow, concave bottom. The utensil is made of copper.
- Bhagona or patili is used for sautéing, boiling and simmering. Food items like korma, yakhni, salan, kaliya are best cooked in this brass utensil.
- Deg or degchi is ideally meant for dum style. Pulao, biriyani, nahari are best cooked in deg. The utensil is made of copper, aluminium or brass.
- Lohe ka tandoor is used for making bread items like taftan, sheermal, bakarhani. It is a dome- shaped iron oven.
- Kadhai is meant for deep frying and has a deep shallow concave bottom.
Signature Dishes of Awadhi Cuisine
The kebabs undoubtedly rank first among all other Awadhi dishes.
Galavati Kabab – This melt-in-mouth kabab is believed to be made of 160 spices and marinated in raw papaya for hours. The authentic recipe of the kabab is kept well-guarded by the creator’s family for generations.
Kakori Kabab – The kabab is roasted on iron rods and is coated with rose petal powder and sweet spices.
Shami Kabab – The main ingredient of this kabab is minced mutton or lamb fried in mashed Bengal gram lentil.
Pasanda Kabab – A succulent mutton kabab mixed with various spices.
Nahari - A lamb stew taken with Kulcha.
Murg Mussalam – Chicken stuffed with eggs and spices.
Rezala – Mutton cooked with yoghurt, cardamom and green chillies.
Kundan Kaliya – Mutton spiced with Kashipura chillies and garnished with gold leaf.
Shahi Korma and Kaliya – Yellow gravy prepared with mutton, fish, chicken or other meats.
Badal Jam – A dry brinjal and tomato preparation.
On rice platter there are:
Noor Mahal Pulao – This item is prepared with nuts, saffron, yakhni, malai and vetiver water.
Zarda – It is a basmati rice preparation flavoured with sugar and saffron.
Bread items are common in Awadhi cuisine. The favourite of all is Sheermal, bread cooked in tandoor with saffron topping.
Awadhi cuisine is not complete without these yummy sweet dishes:
Various types of halwa like sooji halwa, aloo halwa, pumpkin halwa.
Kheer – made of rice or vermicelli, sugar and condensed milk.
Mazaffir – sweet dish made of sevaiyaan.
Malida – It is sweet bread made of ghee and sugar.
Places to Check Out
If you want a taste of authentic Lucknowi biryani head to Wahid’s in Aminabad, Rahim’s in Chowk and Naushijaan in Hazratganj; for kababs check out Tunday Kababi at Chowk. Nahari Kulcha at Rahim’s are immensely famous, don’t miss that from your must-eat list in Lucknow. Also don’t forget to savour the chaats found in every nook and corner of the city.