Awadhi cuisine

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Awadhi cuisine (Hindi: अवधी भोजन, Urdu: اودھی کھانا‎) is from the city of Lucknow, which is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in Central-South Asia and Northern India. The cooking patterns of Lucknow are similar to those of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Northern India with the cuisine comprising both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The Awadh region has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, and the cuisine of Lucknow bears similarities to those of Central Asia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad. The city is also known for its Nawabi foods.[1]

The bawarchis (chefs) and rakabdars (gourmet cooks) of Awadh invented the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today.[2] Their spreads consisted of elaborate dishes such as kebabs, kormas, biryanis, kaliyas, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, and rich spices, which include cardamom and saffron.

Awadhi dastarkhwan[edit]

Dastarkhwan, a Persian term, literally means a meticulously laid-out ceremonial dining spread. It is customary in Awadh to sit around and share the Dastarkhwan. Laden with the finest and the most varied repertoire of the khansamas (chefs), the Dastarkhwan of the raeis (the rich) were called Khasa (special).

A variety of dishes cooked under the barbecue method

The richness of Awadhi cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also is the ingredients used in creating such a variety. The Chefs of Awadhi transformed the traditional dastarkhwan with elaborate dishes like kababs, kormas, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and parathas.

Chicken curry with Chapati.
Uttar Pradeshi thali (platter) with Naan bread, Daal, Raita, Shahi paneer, and Salad.

The Awadhi/Lucknow dastarkhwan would not be complete unless it had the following dishes.

  • Qorma (braised meat in thick gravy),
  • salan (a gravy dish of meat or vegetable),
  • qeema (minced meat),
  • kababs (pounded meat fried or roasted over a charcoal fire),
  • lamb
  • pasinda (fried slivers of very tender meat, usually kid, in gravy)
  • Rice is cooked with meat in the form in the form of a
    • pulao,
    • chulao (fried rice) or
    • served plain.
  • There would also be a variety of rotis.
  • Desserts comprise
    • kheer (milk sweetened and boiled with whole rice to a thick consistency),
    • sheer brunj, (a rich, sweet rice dish boiled in milk),
    • firni

The menu changes with the seasons and with the festival that marks the month. The severity of winters is fought with rich food. Paye (trotters) are cooked overnight over a slow fire and the shorba (thick gravy) eaten with naans. Turnips are also cooked overnight with meat koftas and kidneys and had for lunch. This dish is called shab degh and a very popular in Lucknow. The former Taluqdar of Jehangirabad would serve it to his friends on several occasions during winter.

Birds like partridge and quail are had from the advent of winter since they are heat giving meats. Fish is relished from the advent of winter till spring. It is avoided in the rainy season. In Awadh river fish are preferred particularly rahu (carp), fish kababs (cooked in mustard oil) are preferred.

Peas are the most sought after vegetable in Awadh. One can spot peas in salan, qeema, pulao or just fried plain.

Spring (Sawan) is celebrated with pakwan (crisp snacks), phulkis (besan pakoras in salan), puri-kababs and birahis (paratha stuffed with mashed dal) khandoi (steamed balls of dal in a salan), laute paute (gram flour pancakes—rolled, sliced, and served in a salan), and colocasia-leaf cutlets served with salan add variety. In summer, raw mangoes cooked in semolina and jaggery or sugar, make a dessert called curamba. These dishes come from the rural Hindu population of Awadh.

Activity in the kitchen increases with the approach of festivals. During Ramzan, the month of fasting, the cooks and women of the house are busy throughout the day preparing the iftari (the meal eaten at the end of the day’s fast), not only for the family but for friends and the poor. Id is celebrated with varieties of siwaiyan (vermicelli). Muzzaffar is a favourite in Lucknow. Shab-e-barat is looked forward to for its halwas, particularly of semolina and gram flour. Khichra or haleem, a mixture of dals, wheat and meat, cooked together, is had during Muharram, since it signifies a sad state of mind.

Some dishes appear and disappear from the Lucknow dastarkhwan seasonally, and others are a permanent feature, like qorma, chapatti, and roomali roti. The test of a good chapatti is that you should be able to see the sky through it. The dough should be very loose and is left in a lagan (deep broad vessel) filled with water for half an hour before the chapattis are made.

Sheermals were invented by mamdoo bawarchi more than one and a half century ago. They are saffron covered parathas made from a dough of flour mixed with milk and ghee and baked in iron tandoors. No other city produces sheermals like Lucknow does and the festive dastarkhwan is not complete without it. Saffron is used to flavour sweets too.

Utensils are made of iron or copper. Meat kababs are cooked in a mahi tawa (large, round shallow pan), using a kafgir—a flat, long handled ladle—to turning kababs and parathas. Bone china plates and dishes have been used in Lucknow since the time of Nawabs. Water was normally sipped from copper or silver kato ras and not glasses. The seating arrangement, while eating was always on the floor where beautifully embroidered dastarkhwans were spread on dares and chandnis (white sheets). Sometimes this arrangement was made on a takht or low, wide wooden table.

Kebab[edit]

Seekh Kebab
Boti Seekh Kebab
Galouti Kabab
Shami Kebab
Kheema a delicacy of Awadh

Kebab's are the integral part of Awadhi. Lucknow is proud of its Kebabs. There are several varieties of popular kebabs in Awadhi cuisine viz. Kakori Kebabs, Galawat ke Kebabs, Shami Kebabs, Boti Kebabs, Patili-ke-Kebabs, Ghutwa Kebabs and Seekh Kebabs are among the known varieties.

The kebabs of Awadhi cuisine are distinct from the kebabs of Punjab insofar as Awadhi kebabs are grilled on a chula and sometimes in a skillet as opposed to grilled in a tandoor in Punjab. Awadhi kebabs are also called "chula" kebabs whereas the kebabs of Punjab are called "tandoori" kebabs.

The Seekh Kebab has long been considered a piece de resistance in the Awadhi dastarkhwan. Introduced by the Mughals it was originally prepared from beef mince on skewers and cooked on charcoal fire. Now lamb mince is preferred for its soft texture.

The 100-year-old Tunde ke Kabab in Chowk is the most famous outlet for Kababs even today.[3] Tunde kabab is so named because it was the speciality of a one-armed chef. The tunde kabab claims to be unique because of the zealously guarded family secret recipe for the masala (homemade spices), prepared by women in the family. It is said to incorporate 160 spices.

Kakori kabab is considered blessed since it was originally made in the place by the same name in the dargah of Hazrat Shah Abi Ahder Sahib with divine blessings. The mince for the kabab comes from the raan ki machhli (tendon of the leg of mutton) other ingredients include khoya, white pepperm and a mix of powdered spices that remains secret.

Shami Kebab is made from mince meat, with usually with chopped onion, coriander, and green chillies added. The kebabs are round patties filled with spicy mix and tangy raw green mango. The best time to have them is May, when mangoes are young. When mangoes are not in season, kamrakh or karonda may be substituted for kairi, as both having a tart flavour reminiscent of the raw mango.

A variant made without any admixture or binding agents and comprising just the minced meat and the spices is the Galawat kabab.

An unusual offering is the Pasanda Kebab, piccata of lamb marinated and then sautéed on a griddle.

Boti kebab is lamb marinated in yoghurt and skewered, then well cooked. Traditionally, Boti Kebab (Lamb) is cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor.

Vegetarian kebabs include Dalcha Kebab, Kathal ke Kebab, Arbi ke Kebab, Rajma Galoti Kebab (kidney bean kebab cooked with aromatic herbs), Zamikand ke Kebab (Lucknowi yam kebabs), etc.

Curry preparations[edit]

Navratan Korma
Chicken curry

Korma is actually the Indian name for the technique of braising meat. It originated in the lavish Moghul cuisine wherein lamb or chicken was braised in velvety, spiced sauces, enriched with ground nuts, cream and butter. While kormas are rich, they are also mild, containing little or no cayenne or chillies.[4] There are both vegetarian(navratan korma) and non-vegetarian(chicken, lamb, beef & fish korma) varieties of korma. Murgh Awadhi Korma is a classic from Lucknow.[5]

Kaliya is a mutton preparation with gravy along with the compulsory inclusion of turmeric or saffron.[6]

Rice preparations[edit]

Awadhi mutton biryani
Awadhi Chicken Dum Biryani
Pulav

Lucknowi biryani : Biryani derives from the Persian word Birian, which means "roasted before cooking." Biryani is a mixture of basmati rice, meat, vegetables, yogurt, and spices. Lucknow biryani or awadh airyani is a form of pukki biryani. Pukki means "cooked." Both meat and rice are cooked separately, then layered and baked. The process also lives up to the name biryani in the Persian meaning "fry before cooking'.[7]

It has three steps. First, the meat is seared in ghee and cooked in water with warm aromatic spices till tender. The meat broth is drained. Second, the rice is lightly fried in Ghee, and cooked in the meat broth from the previous step. Third, cooked meat and cooked rice are layered in a handi. Sweet flavours are added. The handi is sealed and cooked over low heat. The result is a perfectly cooked meat, rice, and a homogenous flavour of aromatic meat broth, aromatic spices and sweet flavours.[8]

Among various Biryani the Lucknow and Hyderabad style are dominant, with a friendly rivalry. Chitrita Banerji a Bengali writer in her book Eating India: exploring a nation’s cuisine in an inevitable comparison between Awadhi and Hyderabadi biriyani, picked the Awadhi version as the winner.[9]

The vegetarian version of biryani might have some Textured vegetable protein based protein balls to present the impression of a meat-based dish for vegetarians.

The difference between biryani and pullao is that pullao is made by cooking the meat in ghee with warm aromatic spices until the meat is tender, then adding rice and cooking in the sealed pot over low heat till done—but with biryani, the rice is boiled or parboiled separately in spiced water and then layered with meat curry or marinade (depending on the type of biryani), then sealed and cooked over low heat until done.

Tehri: Tehri is the name given to the vegetarian version of the dish and is very popular in Indian homes.

Bread preparations[edit]

Halwa with Puri
Tea with Paratha
Naan is one of the staple breads of Awadh
Sabji with Paratha
Puri with accompaniments.

As wheat is the staple food of the state, breads are very significant. Breads are generally flat breads; only a few varieties are raised breads. Tawa roti is bread made on crude iron pans. Improvisations of the roti (or bread) are of different types and made in various ways and include the rumaali roti, tandoori roti, naan (baked in a tandoor), kulcha, lachha paratha, sheermaal and baqarkhani.

Breads made of other grains have descriptive names only, thus we have Makai ki roti, Jowar ki roti (barley flour roti), Bajre ki roti (bajra is a grain only grown in India), chawal-ki-Roti (roti of rice flour).

  • Chapati is the most popular roti in India, eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Puri are small and deep fried so they puff up.
  • Paratha is a common roti variant stuffed with fillings of vegetables, pulses, cottage cheese, and even mince meat and fried in ghee or clarified butter. This heavy and scrumptious round bread finds its way to the breakfast tables of millions.
  • Rumali Roti is an elaborately prepared ultra thin bread made on a large, convex metal pan from finely ground wheat flour. The Urdu word rumaali literally means a kerchief.
  • Tandoori Roti is a relatively thick bread that ranges from elastic to crispy consistency, baked in a cylindrical earthen oven. The Urdu word tandoor means an oven.
  • Naan is a thick bread, softer and richer in texture and consistency than the tandoori roti. It is made from finely ground wheat flour kneaded into a very elastic mass.
  • Sheermaal is a sweetened Naan made out of Maida (All-purpose flour), leavened with yeast, baked in a Tandoor or oven. It typically accompanies aromatic quorma (gravied chicken or mutton). Originally, it was made just like Roti. The warm water in the recipe for Roti was replaced with warm milk sweetened with sugar and flavoured with saffron. Today, restaurants make it like a Naan and the final product resembles Danish pastry.
  • Baqarkhani is an elaborate variation of the sheer-maal that is fried on a griddle rather than baked in a tandoor.

Desserts[edit]

Some assorted halva including sooji, chana, and gajar halva

Winters are dedicated to halwas of all kinds that came from Arabia and Persia to stay in India. There are several varieties of these, prepared from different cereals, such as gram flour, sooji, wheat, nuts and eggs. The special halwa or halwa sohan, which has four varieties, viz Papadi, Jauzi, Habshi and Dudhiya is prepared especially well in Lucknow.

The Jauzi Halwa Sohan is a hot favourite even today, but the art of preparing it is confined to only a few households. Prepared for the most part from germinated wheat, milk, sugar, saffron, nuts etc., it has love and patience as its vital ingredients.

Chaat[edit]

A chaat corner
A chaat dish
Paani kay batashey
Aloo Tikki served with chutneys

Chaat and Samosa originated in Uttar Pradesh but now are popular nationwide and abroad. these are the integral part of street foods across India. The chaat variants are all based on fried dough, with various other ingredients. The original chaat is a mixture of potato pieces, gram or chickpeas and tangy-salty spices, with sour home-made Indian chilli and Saunth (dried ginger and tamarind sauce), fresh green coriander leaves and yogurt for garnish, but other popular variants included Aloo tikkis (garnished with onion, coriander, hot spices and a dash of curd), dahi puri, golgappa, dahi vada and papri chaat. masala dosa is originated here.

There are common elements among these variants including dahi, or yogurt; chopped onions and coriander; sev (small dried yellow salty noodles); and chaat masala, a spice mix typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, Kala Namak (rock salt), coriander, dried ginger, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. The ingredients are combined and served on a small metal plate or a banana leaf, dried and formed into a bowl.

Difference between Awadhi and Mughlai cuisine[edit]

Awadhi cuisine has drawn a considerable amount of influence from Mughal cooking style and bears resemblance to those of Hyderabad and Kashmir. The cuisine consists of both vegetarian and meat dishes that employ the dum style of cooking over a slow fire that has become synonymous with Lucknow.

Mughlai food is known for its richness and exotic use of spices, dried fruit, and nuts. The Mughals did everything in style and splendor. Since they ate very rich food they reduced the number of intake during the day. Mughlai dishes as they are called have lots of milk and cream with spices to make rich and spicy meal that is the reason why Mughlai recipes are rich in fat, carbohydrates and proteins.

Awadhi food does not use over a hundred spices as some claim, but use a handful of uncommon spices. The slow-fire cooking lets the juices absorb into the solid parts. In addition to the major process of cooking food in Awadhi style, other important processes, such as marinating meats, contribute to the taste. This is especially the case with barbecued food that might be cooked in a clay oven of over an open fire.

Fish, red meats, vegetables and cottage cheese may be marinated in curd and spices. This helps to soften the taste and texture of them as well as remove any undesired odors from the fleshy materials. They were often cooked on tawa, the flat iron griddle, as opposed to Mughlai influence and bear a testimony to the local influence and convenience.

Difference between Awadhi and Mughlai kebabs is that, while the former is usually cooked on the tawa, the latter is grilled in a tandoor. This gives the difference in flavour.

Cooks[edit]

Broadly, there are three categories of cooks in Lucknow. The bawarchis cook food in large quantities. The rakabdars cook in small gourmet quantities. Rakabdars also specialise in the garnishing and presentation of dishes. The nanfus make a variety of roti, chapattis, naans, sheermals, kulchas and taftans.

Normally, one cook does not prepare the entire meal. There are specialists for different dishes and also a variety of helpers, like the degbos who wash the utensils, the masalchis who grind the masala, and the mehris who carry the khwan (tray) to spread on the dastarkhwan. The wealthy had their kitchens supervised by an officer called daroga-e-bawarchi khana or mohtamim. This officer’s seal on the khwan guaranteed quality control.

Culinary terms[edit]

Dhungar[edit]

This is a quick smoke procedure used to flavour a meat dish, daIs, or raita. The smoke permeates every grain of the ingredients and imparts a subtle aroma, which enhances the quality of the dish. The procedure may be carried out either at the intermediate or the final stage of cooking. This is a common technique employed while making kababs.

In a shallow utensil, or a lagan in which meat or mince has marinated, a small bay is made in the center, and a katori or onion skin or a betel leaf (depending on the dish) is placed. In it, a live coal is placed, and hot ghee, sometimes mixed with aromatic herbs or spices, is poured over it and covered immediately to prevent the smoke escaping. The lid kept on for about 15 minutes, to allow the smoke to flavour the ingredients. The coal is then removed and the meat cooked further.

Dum dena[edit]

This is a frequently method used in Awadh cooking. 'Dum' literally means 'breath' and the process involves placing the semi-cooked ingredients in a pot or deg, sealing the utensil with flour dough and applying very slow charcoal fire from top, by placing some live charcoal on the lid, and some below. The Persian influence is most evident in this method though in Awadh it has acquired its own distinct character. The aroma, flavour, and texture of dum results from slow cooking. This method is employed by a number of delicacies such as the Shabdeg, Pulao and Biryani. Any dish cooked by this method is 'Dum Pukht' or 'Dum Bakht'.

Galavat[edit]

Refers to the use of softening agents is made from raw papaya or kalmi shora (common name:salt peter{potaassium nitrate}) to tenderise meat.

Baghar[edit]

This is a method of tempering a dish with hot oil or ghee, and spices. It may be done either at the beginning of the cooking, as in curries, or at the end as for (pulses). In the former, the fat is heated in a vessel to a smoking point, and after reducing the flame, spices are added. When they begin to crackle, the same process is carried out in a ladle, which is immersed in the cooked dish and immediately covered with a lid. This retains the essence and aroma of the spices, drawn out by the hot ghee.

Gile hikmat[edit]

Gil, in Persian, means earth or mud, and hikmat implies the procedure of the Hakims. This method is generally followed to prepare kushtas, which are the ash-like residue of substances that cannot be consumed in their natural form as they are toxic, for instance gems or metals.

The meat or vegetable to be cooked is generally taken whole and stuffed with nuts and spices. It is then wrapped in a banana leaf or cloth and covered completely with clay or multani mitti (fuller's earth) to seal it. Then it is buried about 4–6 inches deep. Aslow fire is placed on top for six to eight hours. Then the food is dug out and served.

Loab[edit]

Loab refers to the final stage in cooking, when the oil used during cooking rises to the surface to give the dish a finished appearance. This occurs mostly with slow cooking of gravy dishes.

Moin[edit]

It is the shortening of dough. In this process fat is rubbed into the flour and made into a dough for kachoris or pooris orparathas. This makes the final product crisp, flaky and crumbly.

Ittr (Perfumes)[edit]

The use of perfumes play an important role in Awadh cuisine they are used to enhance the aroma of the dish and make it delicate. Most commonly they are made from musk deer, hunting of which is now banned worldwide.

Yakhni cuts (Mutton)[edit]

The cuts for Yakhni are generally bony pieces with flesh on them. These cuts are usually taken from the joints and the ribs of the animal. The basic purpose of mea t in preparing Yakhni is to derive the juice and flavour and hence the shape of the meat does not count much.

Chandi warq[edit]

In this process, small pieces of silver are placed between two sheets of paper, then patted continuously with a hammer until papery thin. These are used to decorat dishes before presentation, e.g., Chandi kaliya, Moti pulao.

Zamin doz[edit]

In this style of cooking, a hole is dug in the ground and the ingredients are placed and covered with mud, then a layer of burning charcoal. The cooking takes about six hours.

Utensils used[edit]

Bhagona[edit]

Or the patili is generally of brass with a lid. It is used when a great deal of 'bhunna' or saute is required. or even for boiling and simmering. It is also used for preparingYakhni or Salan, Korma or Kaliya.

Deg/Degchi[edit]

This is a pear-shaped pot of either brass, copper or aluminium. The shape of this utensil is ideally suited for the 'dum' method and is used for cooking Pulao, Biryani, Nehari or Shab Deg.

Kadhai[edit]

Kadhai is a deep, concave utensil made of brass, iron or aluminium and is used far deep frying pakoris puri and the like.

Lagan[edit]

Lagan is a Traditional round and shallow copper utensil with a slightly concave bottom. Used for cooking whole or big cuts of meat or poultry especially when heat is applied from both the top and bottom.

Lohe ka tandoor[edit]

Lohe ka tandoor typically is iron tandoor. This is distinct from the clay tandoor, which is more common in Delhi. It is a dome-shaped iron oven covered with an iron sheet, used for cooking a variety of breads like – sheermal, taftan, and bakarkhani.

Mahi tawa[edit]

Mahi tawa is the Awadh version of a griddle shaped like a big round, flat bottomed tray with raised edges. It is used for cooking kababs and, with a cover, other dishes.

Seeni[edit]

Seeni is a big thali (round tray), usually used as a lid for the lagan or mahi tawa when heat must be applied from the top. Live charcoal is placed on it and the heat is transmitted through it to the food. Thus the indirect heat has the desired effect of browning and cooking the ingredients. All the copper and brass utensils are almost always used after 'kalai' or tin plating the insides.

Gallery[edit]

Awadhi dishes[edit]

Recipes[edit]

Following is list of few Awadhi recipes:

  • Almond Kulfi
  • Almond Seera
  • Badam Halwa
  • Boondi Raita
  • Carrot Halwa
  • Chicken Korma
  • Dahi Gosht
  • Fish Kebab
  • Galouti Kebab
  • Green Peas Paratha
  • Gujia
  • Gulab Jamun
  • Gulkand Peda
  • Imarti
  • Indian Keema
  • Jalebi
  • Kachori
  • Kaddu Ki Kheer
  • Kanji Ke Vade
  • Kathi Kebab
  • Kele Ki Sabzi
  • Khaja
  • Kofta Curry
  • Kurmura Ladoo
  • Kuttu Paratha
  • Lachcha Paratha
  • Lamb kebab
  • Malai Kofta
  • Mango Burfi
  • Methi Parathas
  • Moong Dal Halwa
  • Motichoor Ladoo
  • Murgh Musallam
  • Mushroom Biryani
  • Mutton Kabab
  • Naan
  • Nargisi Kofta
  • Navratan Korma
  • Navratan Pulao
  • Nawabi Curry
  • Palak Paneer
  • Paneer Korma
  • Paneer Stuffed Tomatoes
  • Paneer Tikka
  • Papri
  • Peas Pulao
  • Phirni
  • Rabdi
  • Samosa
  • Shahi Paneer
  • Shami Kabab
  • Tahari
  • Thandai
  • Til Papdi
  • Vegetable Biryani
  • Vegetable Pulav
  • Yakhni Pulav
  • Zafrani Kheer
  • Zamin Doz Machhli

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Royal Mughal Ladies and Their Contributions". Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ The Sunday Tribune – Spectrum – Lead Article. The Tribune. (13 July 2003). Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  3. ^ The Week. Week.manoramaonline.com. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  4. ^ Jennifer Brennan, Curries and Bugles: A Memoir and a Cookbook of the British Raj, Tuttle, 2000, ISBN 9625938184
  5. ^ Tastes of royalty. The Hindu. (19 July 2008). Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  6. ^ Recipes From Awadh. Scribd.com (28 September 2009). Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  7. ^ History of Biryani. Indiacurry.com. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  8. ^ Chicken Biryani Awadhi (Lucknow) style Recipe. Indiacurry.com. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  9. ^ "Global recipes from local kitchens". The Telegraph (Calcutta) (8 February 2008). Retrieved 2012-08-06.

External links[edit]