May 20, 2024


Free For All Food

In Lucknow, a foodstuff festival is bringing Awadhi kitchen area insider secrets to light-weight

The Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival has turn into an important function in Lucknow’s cultural calendar. From small beginnings, targeting a local viewers, it now attracts website visitors from outside the town and even outdoors the nation. The five-working day competition, held at Safed Baradari in the to start with week of February, contains a Weaves & Crafts Bazaar, literary gatherings, cultural performances, craft demonstrations, walks and tours, and much far more.

One particular of the most common activities of this competition is the Awadhi Home Cooked Meals Pageant. As the title implies, the food stuff is not professionally cooked – instead, it is prepared by a group of volunteers, or “home cooks”, in their kitchens using old family recipes. The thought for the Sunday lunch arrived out of a realisation that there was so a great deal additional to Lucknow foodstuff than the well known road fare which had, for so very long, passed off as representing Awadhi Delicacies. We wished reliable foods to be brought out of Lucknow properties and served to a discerning audience, not simply just as an afternoon lunch, but as an whole gourmet knowledge.

The dynamics of the Awadhi Home Cooked Food stuff Competition alter every single calendar year. The menu is resolved right after considerably deliberation. To insert novelty, new dishes are launched just about every yr and care is taken not to be repetitive, even though some well known dishes from former a long time might be included. There is usually a range of saalans, such as mutton or rooster qorma, aloo gosht, shab degh, nahari or methi machli ka shorba. Dry meat dishes on the menu can consist of mutton raan, seekh pasanda or mutton stew. There are countless combinations of kababs to select from – shaami, galawat, boti, goley ke kabab, patili ki tikiya. Keema dishes can fluctuate in between hara bhara keema, keema sem ke beej and lal mirch stuffed with keema. Roomali and tandoori rotis are served hot from a common cooking place. And there are steaming platters of yakhni pulao and dum biryani with smoked raita or a contemporary tomato chutney.

Courtesy: Noor Khan.

The Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Pageant celebrates diversity, so there are regional representations on the menu, these types of as the Bundeli thaali and UP thaali. The festival theme also influences the menu. At a single competition, the concept was the numerous communities that had built Lucknow their household, so the community representations provided the Marwari thaali, Parsi dhansak, Bengali mustard fish curry, to identify just a number of.

Considerably assumed is provided to the vegetarian portion as effectively. A glass of kanji can make a platter of makke ki roti, gur and sarson ka saag more fascinating. Soya versions of well-known meat dishes are inevitably well-known with the festivalgoers and the Marwari thaali is often the initially to be sold out. For people today searching for much more fundamental, very simple fare, there is often kadhi chawal, matar pulao with chutney, sookhe aaloo, sagpaita with zeera chawal.

Rounding off the menu are conventional Awadhi sweets such as shahi tukda, firini, shakarkand ki kheer, qimami sewian and gajar or chane ki dal ka halwa. Shahi tukdas and firini are well-known sweets that are served all yr spherical at nearby weddings. Shakarkand ki kheer is a seasonal sweet, which can be cooked only in winter months, when shakarkand (sweet potatoes) are in time. Halwas are rich simply because they are cooked in massive quantities of clarified butter, so they are most effective savored in winter season. The Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival is normally held in the very first 7 days of February, so wintertime greens and sweets are generally an important section of the Sunday Meals Pageant.

Courtesy: Noor Khan.

New volunteer cooks are additional to the group just about every 12 months, and they invariably introduce enjoyable new dishes. The hara bhara keema was included to the menu by Ashar Jamal final yr. Ashar is an educationist by occupation, and her loved ones of ulemas and hakims have lived in aged Lucknow for seven generations on document. Even now the extended household life inside of walking length of each and every other. Ashar picked up the recipe from her bua, an aged relatives retainer who would once in a while cook her possess dinner in the family’s woodfired kitchen. Frequently this 1-dish food was chunky bits of beef cooked with coarsely-pounded ginger and garlic, stewed in its very own fat and garnished with generous quantities of inexperienced coriander and chillies. Ashar recreated and refined the recipe from childhood reminiscences, replacing the animal fats with mustard oil and chunky beef with lean minced goat meat. She is an instinctive cook dinner and does not really feel the require for written recipes.

Farzana Shahab’s relatives came to Lucknow in the mid-1950s from a farming group in the Bundelkhand location. Farzana, an artist by job, served aloo gosht at the Sunday Food stuff Pageant, a recipe that has been utilized by 4 generations of ladies in her relatives. She picked up cooking by supporting her mother in the kitchen and has commenced the observe of recording her loved ones recipes in a recipe e-book. She shares these written recipes and provides a cooking demonstration with her daughter Anam, who life and functions in London.

A different of the festival’s home cooks is Zarine Viccajee. She is an educationist and the president of the Awadh Educational Society, which operates Avadh Diploma Faculty in Lucknow. Her great wonderful grandfather, Nowrojee Damkawala, came to Lucknow in the mid-19th century to trade in silks and pearls with the Nawab of Awadh. Progressively, a Parsi neighborhood settled down in Lucknow. Parsis adopted the language, dress, foodstuff and mannerisms of Lucknow. In return they gave Lucknow the seedha palla, gorgeously-embroidered sarees and borders, and mouth watering Parsi dishes, the most well-known among them becoming the dhansak. Zarine does the cooking herself, but this recipe was handed down orally by her mom to her reliable cook dinner, Lal Mohammed, who in convert shared it with Parvati, the current family cook. It was Lal Mohammed’s variation that was shared at the Sunday Dwelling Cooked Festival for the initially time very last yr. Zarine’s niece, Sanaya, has now written down the recipe and cooks it just the way her grandmother did.

The Awadhi Household Cooked Food items Pageant has acquired an adda-like status of a carnival. People consume alongside one another, mates meet up and share a food, rounding it off with a sikora of very hot chane ki daal ka halwa. The senior cooks double up as hostesses and mingle with the guests, suggesting different combinations from the menu and guaranteeing that absolutely everyone is comfortable and glad.

Courtesy: Noor Khan.

The competition can toss up some surprises. The chocolate orange cake, a new entrant last yr, was the to start with to be sold out. Now, who would have thought of that, when the very long-standing demand from customers has often been for standard Awadhi sweets.

As we learn and improve, our clients study alongside with us. No one asks any more what a khichda or the female-sounding koftee-pulau is. Everyone has discovered that the former is mutton cooked with lentils and rice, and the latter is a colloquial term for a chunk-sized mince kofta layered with eco-friendly peas and fragrant rice. It presents us enormous joy when we listen to that some of the dishes we introduced have turn out to be portion of frequent fare. Khichda and nargisi koftas are extra obvious now on menu playing cards in popular consuming places. A person faithful purchaser instructed us that she had eaten keema with lal mirch at a marriage ceremony in Delhi but it was not as excellent as ours. Discerning audiences have acquired that the Awadhi design and style of cooking meat and greens jointly produces delicacies that are to be appreciated for their subtle flavours and satisfying colours. The golden potato halves simmering in a dish of aloo gosht, the crimson of the beetroot improving the colour of chukandar gosht, or the dhania and green chillies lending their identify, flavour and color to the fiery hara bhara keema are combos to be savoured and appreciated. The journey has been a lot more than a ten years outdated and the idea has been to share and unfold awareness about Awadhi food items, and we experience we have been prosperous.

My father’s spouse and children belonged to Amethi, a small qasba adjacent to Lucknow. My grandfather settled down in Lucknow in the early 1900s. Lucknow has been my dwelling for virtually 5 decades, and the town has a custom of fantastic food items served with utmost treatment and a real feeling of hospitality. I am an educationist by career, but, more than the years, I have developed an curiosity in cooking. Below, I am sharing my paternal aunt’s recipe for keema karela, or minced meat cooked with bitter gourd. My aunt died right before I was born, but her daughter, my cousin, shared her mother’s recipe. This recipe is about 70 years old, shared only as a result of memory. It will be extra to a relatives recipe ebook that I begun composing about 5 several years in the past.

Keema Karela

Key Ingredients

500 gm minced meat, washed and established aside

6 medium karelas

3 huge onions, sliced lengthwise

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 tsp haldi powder

1 tsp coarsely pounded red chillies

1 cup mustard oil, smoked and cooled

½ cup karaunda, or Bengal currant, halved and deseeded

Salt to style

Dry Spice Mix

1 tbsp saunf, ½ tbsp zeera, ½ tsp methi seeds. All evenly roasted and then coarsely pounded. Insert ½ tsp of kalonji seeds to this combination.


Pudina leaves, entire inexperienced chillies, browned onions.


1. Scrape the skin of karelas. Slit, deseed and reduce into rings. Incorporate ½ tsp of salt and established aside for fifty percent an hour. Clean completely and pat dry.

2. In a wok, warmth mustard oil. Incorporate the sliced onions and prepare dinner till they transform golden brown. Established aside fifty percent of the onions.

3. To the remaining onions increase the coarsely-pounded spice mix, minced meat, haldi powder, pounded chillies, chopped ginger and garlic, minced onions and salt. Blend nicely, address with a restricted lid and leave to cook dinner on pretty small flame. Proceed cooking until finally all the liquid has evaporated. Stir right up until the oil separates and the mince is brown and effectively roasted.

4. Add the karela rings and karaunda halves. Increase a cup of h2o and cook dinner on really very low heat until the karela and karaunda have softened but keep their shape.

5. Serve garnished with pudina leaves, inexperienced chillies and brown onions.

Notice: This is a summer months dish for that is when karelas and karaundas are in period. Chopped items of raw mango can be substituted for karaundas if karaundas are not out there. Karaundas and uncooked mangoes are souring agents and incorporate properly with the marginally bitter style of the karela. Just take treatment to keep the condition of the karaunda and karela. This improves the finished seem of the dish.

Noor Khan retired as the Principal of Karamat School, Lucknow, where she also taught English. As a member of the core organising group of the Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Pageant, she has labored tirelessly to create consciousness about Lucknow’s cultural heritage.

This posting is section of the project “Forgotten Food stuff: Culinary Memory, Neighborhood Heritage and Dropped Agricultural Varieties in India”, curated by Tarana Husain Khan and edited by Siobhan Lambert Hurley and Claire Chambers. It has been funded by International Challenges Analysis Fund by the Arts & Humanities Analysis Council in the United Kingdom. Study the other sections listed here.