Three of us set out for Lucknow to do what we love doing. Exploring local food of the City of Nawabs. So, in this 3-part series, I shall take you through the by lanes of Lucknow to suggest places to eat and what would be desirable to enjoy. In this Part 1 today, let me share with you few of the Breakfast options in Lucknow which include amazing options such as Chai in Kulhad, Khasta Kachori with Chhole, Spicy Aloo, Matar, Poori Subzi, Bread Pakora, Samosa, Indori Poha and Besan Ki Roti or Besan Parantha. Do these interest you? Please read on…
While there could be many options available in the city for breakfast, I am sharing where we enjoyed ours over two days of our stay. I have clustered the eateries together of one area so that one could enjoy these in one go.
Sharma Ji Ki Chai
As if the city wakes up with a cuppa from this iconic outlet. We reached here around 830 in the morning and experienced a sort of traffic jam in the vicinity. I was told that all this rush of cars and people is for the famous Chai (Tea) of the city. The three most famous items here are Chai, Bun Makhan and Samosa (yes you heard it right, Samosa, first thing in the morning). The milk tea, Chai is served in a paper glass and Kulhad (earthen pot). We preferred the later.
The service was super fast despite the rush. The Chai came with a layer of milk froth floating on the top with hues of golden brown tea peeping out. First sip and it was different. It had a richness and yet subtle flavour. It had body and each sip left you asking for more. I am not a tea person and yet I was quite impressed. The Bun Makhan or the Bun Maska was a Sweet Bun, fresh and soft with tutty-fruity. The sweetness was very well balanced with the Butter. The Samosa here was round in shape like a Potli (a cloth bundle). It had a crispy crust and the Aloo stuffing was more of finely mashed potatoes with mild spices. Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ZgcBWVasKj73Nbuz5
Durga Khasta Corner
This another gem of the city is within about 10 minutes of the driving distance from Sharma Chai. You cannot miss this unassuming small shop for it was easily identifiable with the crowd that was enjoying its morning grub here. This rustic shop seemed to have a loyal fan following. The most popular items here are Khasta Kachori and Bara.
The Khasta Kachori was the usual one with a flavourful savory stuffing inside a crispy crust. The accompanying Matra concoction is something to die for. Served on a leaf, the matra was a gravy. The thick brownish gravy was of the mashed pigeon peas. It it did have some firm grains too and yet it had an amazing taste. The gravy was accompanied by spicy small Masala Potatoes garnished with Green Chili and sliced onions. The Matra concoction was so tasty and unique that I had to ask for a separate helping of the gravy and almost licked it to polish it off.
The place also makes spicy Red Aloo which are served along with the Bara, an Urad Dal Fritter. Again, this unique combo of Bara with the spicy Aloo was a bomb of flavours. Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/LuAA1DNBThXA7ukP8
Bajpai Kachodi Bhandar
Drive back to Hazarat Ganj and head to this iconic eatery. Once again, we found a huge rush in front of the shop and people enjoying their breakfast. The place is quite popular with the locals. I spotted Sandeep Dikshit, son of former Chief Minister of Delhi, Late Sheila Dikshit, enjoying his breakfast here.
You get four Golden Fried stuffed Poori (they call it kachori) on a piece of paper, served with a spicy concoction of Chhole with pieces of Boiled Potatoes thrown in and garnished with picked Green Chili, Chopped Onions and Tomatoes. I tasted the Poori first and realised that it was thicker than what you get in Delhi. It was somewhat a midway between Khasta Kachori and a Poori. It was tasty and could be had on its own. The bowl of Chhole had each grain was separate and was covered with the spicy masala. Yet each grain was like melt in mouth. Pro tip: Don’t miss the guy frying these Kachories who flicks each one from a distance, straight into the large wok. GoogleLocation:https://goo.gl/maps/Pgdv8LGjEPFRRJES6
This one is just next to the Bajpai’s. This one too had a lot of rush in front of it. If you are in no mood to have Poori Chhole, try their Bread Pakora, Samosa and Kachori Chhole.
The Bread Pakora here has a unique shape. It is sort of a rectangular Double Decker served with Green Chutney. The outer skin was thin, yet crispy. The inner sandwich had a flavourful stuffing. It was different and quite enjoyable. The medium sized Samosa was golden fried and again served with Green Chutney. The crust was crisp and encased a flavourful mashed potato stuffing. The Kachori here was served with a curry of Chhole. This goldish yellow curry was rustic and yet very flavourful. Quite different from the one you get at the neighboring shop. The Tea here is prepared over a large grilled stove which was bedecked with quite a few steel kettles giving a very pleasant site. Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/sG2QvidWYCetdLov7
Indore Ka Mashoor Poha
Take a left turn from Bajpai Kachodi and you would see a Poha Cart parked right there. The hygienic and colourful cart attracted us and despite being full, we could not afford to miss this one.
What came in our hands was a delight to look at. It was a riot of colours in a paper plate. The boiled flattened rice was served with Chopped Onions, Green Chili, Sev, fried Peanuts, and garnished with Chopped Coriander and Pomegranate Seeds. In nutshell it was a bomb of flavours with variety of textures in one plate. Google Location: Unlisted but easy to locate.
Baksey Wale Khaste
Head to the old Lucknow area known as Chowk. Look for the Police Station, Kotwali Chowk. Right outside its main gate, you would see 3-4 vendors squatting on the roadside with huge iron boxes in front of them. One could easily mistake them for cycle mechanics. Go near and you would find that those boxes have Kachori in it. This explains the name, Baksey Wale (a box, called in hindi). We headed to the first one, Pappu Bhaiya.
Pointing us towards his box, and identifying three different varieties in it, he asked us, “Soft, Medium of Hard?” Meaning, the Kachories were taken out at different intervals while frying rendering three different textures. We opted for the medium version. Here too, the Kachori was served with goldish Dry Potato Subzi which was spicy and tasty. I could have a full plate of just the Aloo Subzi. It was unique with each wedge engulfed in spicy masala giving it a crispy hint. Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/C18ahHZ7EB3Vje4H6
Besan Ki Roti
From this Chowk Kotwali, head towards the main Chowk and you would find many vendors selling Makhan Malai here (will talk about them in the part 3 of my series). Walk past them and walk through the narrow lane. At the end of the lane you would hit Akbari Gate and from there take a right turn. Just a few meters ahead, on the left side of the road, you would find a cart, Daud’s Besan Ki Roti (he is on Instagram too).
A smiling gentleman greeted us and prepared fresh Roti, actually a Besan Tawa Parantha. The Roti was rolled and was placed on the large gridle and immediately a weight equal to the size of the roti was placed over it. Once done a bit, he ladled Desi Ghee over it and started pressing and rotating it with the help of the weight. Once done, he took out the Roti aka Parantha and immediately placed a sheet of aluminum foil over the Tawa. Then he ladled a couple of spoons of Onion Garlic Chutney over it and added a spoonful of Ghee. We asked him the secret behind the foil over the tawa and he explained that the foil would prevent the strong aroma of the chutney to spread around. Otherwise, people in the close vicinity would cough from the strong aroma. The golden fried, crispy, Besan Roti was served with that amazing Onion Garlic Chutney and Green Chutney. One of the best Besan Parantha I would have had. This one is a show stopper and a must try. Google Location: Unlisted. Please follow the route explained above.
We were four of us. While me, Chef Sanjay Pawar and Govind Sharma had travelled by road from Delhi, my local colleague, Ritesh Lamba, a foodie joined the gang from there. He volunteered to be the guide for us. We had our own list to be followed and he added some real gems to it.
In the part 2 of the series next week, I shall suggest Lunch and Dinner options (six of them). Till then….
Bon Appetite !!