If you classify yourself as a quintessential foodie, but somehow don’t have a bucket list of Awadhi delicacies to try out in Lucknow, we are here to help! Here’s a Lucknow food trail guide that will help you relish most out of the Nawabi cuisine in the city, all in one day! By Ritika Dixit
Kickstart your day with some refreshing aromatic tea at Sharma Ji Ki Chai in Lalbagh and enjoy it old-school style in an earthen cup. Don’t let the lack of sitting arrangement fool you, as the tea from Sharma Ji tastes best on early wintry mornings with a group of friends huddled over gossip sessions. Don’t worry if you are hungry already, the creamy bun-makhan (homemade butter) and the spicy samosas from Sharma Ji will get your appetite worked out for our next stop.
You have not witnessed real winters in Lucknow unless you reach the Aminabad Chauraha in the wee hours of the morning to get your hands on some authentic Malai Makhan, also known as Lab-e-Mashook in Urdu. Flavoured with just the right pinch of cardamom and garnished with pistachios, Malai Makhan looks as mouth-watering as it tastes. The sweetness will melt in your mouth and always leave you wanting just one bite more. But hold back, our next stop requires for your full-blown breakfast hunger.
Did you notice the sweetness in the dialect of the locals in Lucknow? The secret is piping hot jalebis from Parampara Sweets which are served with cold curd. The overwhelming sweetness of the jalebi is toned down to perfection with the slight sourness of the curd. Not a fan of sweets? Fret not, head to Rattilal’s at Hewett Road for some delectable Khasta-kachauri served with some well-spiced potatoes. The crunch of the Khasta and the flavours in the potato will ensure your taste buds break into a happy-dance spree after you savour it to the last bite.
Sort your lunch at Rahim’s with Paya ki Nihari, a spicy broth of lamb trotters cooked slowly for six to seven hours and served with Kulche, which is mildly-flavoured flattened bread, and the two complement each other to the fullest. The dish has been a staple for Lucknowites since 1890 when Haji Abdul Rahim Sahib started serving it to break the morning fast. If you are an advocate of dessert after every meal, Lucknow is the city for you; head for a taste of Malai ki Gilori at Ramasrey Sweets to get your fix of some of this pleasantly gooey sweet paan made of sheets of milk and malai stuffed with dry fruits and mishri, coated with chandi ka warq, which will melt in your mouth even before you head on to the next bite.
Start your evening on a hot and sweet note with some famous Lucknowi chaat. Puchka or panipuri whatever it is called. In Lucknow, it is called Paani ke Bataashe and Shukla Chaat House is the perfect place to relish some. The tangy flavour and intelligent use of spices will be worth your while. You can also head to Royal Café for some world-famous basket chaat, which is a basket filled with potato filling, tomatoes, peanuts, papdi, dahi vada, onion, chickpeas, garnished and topped with thick yoghurt, spicy green chutney, tangy tamarind chutney, crunchy sev, pomegranate, coriander leaves to the top — your taste buds will be going gaga over this basket chaat for a long time. But for now, our next stop for a satisfying dinner awaits you.
A special delicacy, which was once made exclusively for a Nawab in Lucknow, Galauti kebab will melt in your mouth sooner than ice cream melts. The softened kebabs are made when finely ground meat and unripe papaya is marinated and a mixture of nearly a hundred spices is added to the world-famous Awadhi delicacy. It is served best with some rumali roti and followed by a scrumptious plate of Lucknowi biryani, which is flavourful with garden fresh spices and marinated chicken. The explosion of flavours could be the perfect way to call it a day, but wait up and make room for some falooda kulfi from Prakash kulfi to end your day on a sweet note. Laced with gracious amounts of dry fruits and loads of falooda, kulfi will be a luscious treat for your tastebuds.
If you wish to take away some Lucknowi sweetness packed in a box, do not miss out on getting Gajak, which is a dry sweet made from sesame seeds or peanuts and jaggery, from the Aminabad Corner Shop. Relish a bit of Lucknow now and then, until it is time to be back in the city of Nawabs again.