“Tell me, which is your favourite Awadhi dish?”, I asked Chef Anjum Hasan, the curator of Andaz Ae Lucknow, an Awadhi Food Festival at the Kenilworth Hotel. She laughed at my question saying, “You are almost asking me to choose between my children!”,promising us to take us through a delectable journey of Awadhi Cuisine.
In the past few years, Kolkata has come up with a lot of new options for the food lovers. Most importantly, the city dwellers have become open to experimentation when it comes to their food. Amongst all the exotic cuisines, Awadhi has been making quite a mark in recent times. Kenilworth’s Lucknowi festival that will continue till 14th February attempts to indulge the Kolkatans with an Awadhi experience in terms of food and ambience.
I would always wonder, how exactly did Awadhi Cuisine differ from the mainstream “North Indian” food. Chef Anjum Hasan was happy to clear my doubt. Awadhi Cuisine is a descendant of Mughlai or the Muslim Cuisine. After the decline of the Mughal empire the Mughlai cuisine was carried over to the Princely States of Hyderabad, Kashmir, Punjab and Lucknow, each tweaking the cuisine in their own way. Awadhi Cuisine was influenced by the fine taste of the Nawabs of Lucknow. One of the most distinct characteristic of Awadhi Cuisine is the subtlety of every flavor.
We were served Awadhi specialities recommended by Chef Anjum herself. The starters consisted of Zafrani Tava Murg (boneless chicken filets marinated in saffron flavored spices and cooked on Tava), Murg Pasanda (marinated chicken, cooked “Dum” style), Mutton Galawati Kebab (mutton kebab infused with aromatic spices) and Subz Kakori Sheekh Kebab.
One of the most intriguing things about the cuisine was that the vegetarian dishes were equally interesting as their non-vegetarian counterparts.
For the main course, we opted for Murg and Gosht Biriyani along with Neehari Gosht (mutton pieces stewed in mustard oil, herbs and spices) and Paneer ke Dulme (stuffed paneer). The meat was extremely tender and on that note Chef Anjum told us a very interesting fact. When the Nawabs of Lucknow would grow old, the royal chefs would make sure that the meat was tender enough to cater to the Nawab’s decreasing teeth. Hence the Awadhi Cuisine was influenced with the tenderly cooked meat.
The dinner ended on a sweet note with Shahi Tukda, on of my favourite desserts ever.
Do drop in at the Kenilworth Hotel by February 14th if you are in the city to be a part of the festival.
#Nomnom recommends :
Zafrani Tava Murg