We explored Lucknow for its rich culinary and cultural heritage. Looking to find out what to eat and what to explore in Lucknow? Read on..
Lucknow is the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh, a northern state in India.
It extends along the river Gomti.
Lucknow was earlier known as Lakhanpur, in the name of Lakshman (Younger Brother of Lord Rama from Ramayana). It is believed that it was gifted to Lakshman by his brother Rama when he was the king of Ayodhya. Modern times Lucknow was created by Nawab Asif Uddaula, a Mughal Nawab.
During the reign of Wajid Ali Shah, Lucknow was known as the center of Urdu poetry and music. The 16th century India witnessed the arrival of the Mughals from Central Asia. The Mughals ruled Hindustan for about two and a half centuries. The Mughals were known for their splendor and style. They introduced many new elements to the society which mingled with the existing culture slowly.
Their splendor and style reflect in their food habits also. The diet of the Mughals comprised of the variety of rich and delicious dishes which we know as Mughlai Cuisine. The imperial kitchen known as ‘Matbakh’ was elaborately organized. Cooks from different countries were employed in the royal kitchen and they prepared a number of rich and tasty dishes every day. They consumed rich food – rich in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. The Royal cooks and chefs were trained. Rich creamy sauces, aromatic spices, and new recipes make the Mughlai traditional food, the best choice.
City of Nawabs
Lucknow has always been a multicultural city and flourished as a cultural and artistic capital of India. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, unique architecture, poetry, music, handicrafts, fine cuisine— these all were patronized by its rulers, the Nawabs. The city was also known as the ‘City of Nawabs’. Literature, cuisine, performing arts, culture, and tehzeeb put Lucknow at its best and above the rest. Its extraordinary monuments is a blend of ancient, colonial and oriental culture. The land of Nawabs and Mughlai cuisine, Lucknow is a foodies paradise. The cooking patterns of the food are similar to those of Central Asia, the Middle East, and northern India. The Mughlai cooking style is used in the traditional cuisine of north India (U.P. and Delhi), the Indian city of Hyderabad and Pakistani city of Karachi. The tastes of Mughlai cuisines vary from mild to spicy and often associated with a distinctive aroma of herbs and taste and flavor of whole and ground spices. The main ingredients of Mughlai dishes are aromatic spices, dry fruits- mainly cashews and almonds, saffron, aromatic flavors, and pure ghee. Roasting, tawa fried and cooking in sealed pots (dum pukht) are the main methods of cooking. A Mughlai course is an elaborate buffet of main course dishes with a variety of accompaniments. Kebabs, biriyanis and rogan josh are lip-smacking dishes. You don’t know which narrow lane will satisfy your taste buds as the air and the aroma of the city brings foodie magic and food paradise. Everyone should travel to Lucknow just to eat these mouthwatering dishes. Even though the list of Mughlai delicacies is endless, below are some which one cannot miss.
Some Lucknow Food You Must Try.
1. Galawati kebab
Galawati meaning – melt in your mouth. The dish does exactly that. For this finely ground meat is marinated with unripe papaya and a mixture of spices for some time and then shallow fried in a pan.
2. Seekh kebab
minced meat is marinated in spices for some time and then coated on iron spikes (seenkh) and then roasted on the coal fire.
3. Kakori kebab
Lamb minced meat is marinated in spices and fat and then coated on iron spikes (seenkh) and then roasted on a Sigri at low flame. This is also very soft.
4. Shami kebab
Minced meat is boiled with gram lentil and whole spices and then kebabs are shallow fried in a pan.
5. Boti kebab
Tender pieces of meat are heated under intense heat with spices. All these are finger licking starters as well as the main course as these kebabs are eaten separately as well as with Rumali Roti or Paratha.
Mutton and Chicken — In this, both rice and meat are half cooked separately with spices and then the meat and the rice are infused together in the right proportions and cooked by Dumpukht method giving right flavor and right taste.
DUMPUKHT – means ‘to breathe and to cook’. The excellence in this method owes to the fact that the food is sealed in a pan and cooked slowly in its own juices due to which the natural aromas and flavors of the ingredients are retained.
7. Rogan josh
Soft meat is cooked in spicy curry. The recipe warms you from inside.
This is lamb trotters broth. ‘Nahar ‘ in Urdu, means morning. Meat is slowly cooked overnight for 6-7 hours and mostly eaten in breakfast.
9. Rumali roti/ Paratha
These are bread made of wheat flour and roasted on Ulta tawa. Rumali roti is very thin and soft. Paratha is cooked with oil. These both are eaten with kebabs at curry.
A sweet nan, baked in tandoor and eaten with anything spicy. Sheermals are made with flour, milk, and sugar and flavored with saffron.
11. Basket Chaat
Chaat is favorite snack satisfying stomach and taste buds. Basket (Tokri ) Chaat is a sumptuous meal. The basket is made of grated potato flakes and fried in the shape of a basket. The crispier the tokri the better. While serving, the basket is filled with aloo tikki, white peas, papri, pakora, curd, different chutneys, and dressings.
12. Shahi Tukda
This is a dessert made with bread, milk, sugar and dry fruits. Bread is deep fried in pure ghee. Milk is condensed in right consistency and Sugar, dry fruits, cardamom and kesar flavors are added to the milk. Then fried bread pieces are added which soak milk and become soft. Shahi tukda is normally served chilled.
13. Malai ki gilauri
A dessert made from malai in the shape of Paan gilauri, filled with khoya and dry fruits. It just melts in the mouth.
14. Motichoor ke laddoo
A dessert made with gram flour and sugar. Tiny droplets of gram flour paste are fried into golden gram flour pearls (Moti) . These gram flour pearls are fused with sugar syrup and small balls are made of this sugar infused gram flour pearls and garnished with dry fruits. Hence the name. motichoor laddoo.
15. Kulfi with Falooda
Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert. Falooda is a cornstarch vermicelli. For kulfi, the milk is first condensed. Then dry nuts and pastes and aromatic spices are added. The mix is frozen in small cans. When served the cans are taken out from the frozen place and served with white and yellow falooda.
kheer is also a dessert, which is made with rice, milk, sugar and garnished with dry fruits and aromatic spices. Rice is cooked slowly with milk till it is condensed. Sugar, dry fruits, and aromatic spices are added and normally served chilled.
17. Lucknow Paan
No meal is complete without a paan gilauri. Lucknow paan is an experience and a treat to have. Soft supari (betel nut), Gulkand (sweet rose petals), soft coconut flakes, cardamom put together is wrapped in a crisp pan leaf. It just melts in the mouth.
Places of tourist attraction in Lucknow
1. Bada Imambara and bhoolbhulaiya
2. Chhota Imambara
3. British Residency
4. Rumi Darwaza
5. Chhattar Manzil
6. Jama Masjid
7. Kaisarbagh heritage zone
8. Aminabad and Chowk for Chikan embroidered goods and traditional Mughlai food. These have made Lucknow a brand in the global scenario. Along with the cultural and foodies paradise, Lucknow is full of new age and high-end infrastructure facilities— which are great attractions for people- to visit Lucknow again and again!!