As part of the series on Lucknow food, today I bring you some amazing non vegetarian options for Lunch and Dinner in the city. My Food Story covers Nahari and Kulcha, Galawati Kebab and Ulta Tawa Parantha, Shami Kebab, Majlisi Kebab or Ghutwa Kebab, Mutton Chap, Bhuna Gosht, Band Gosht, Boti Kebab and Biryani. Our amazing meals were had at Raheem, Tunday Kababi, Alamgir, Naushijaan, Sakhawat and Idrees.
The moment one thinks of Lucknow, for non veg lovers, the name of Tunday Kebabs ring in the mind, instantly, as if it is synonym with the city. Well, Tunday is no doubt good but then that’s not the end. There are many more eateries which serve finger licking delicacies much to the delight of the meat lovers. The Awadhi Mughlai Cuisine has its own class. This goes quite light on the usage of oil and spices in the preparations. However, it is full of flavours and aromas. In our two day stay in Lucknow, we tried quite a few of them. I bring to you these quintessential dishes which you would love to try. I have clustered these in three broad areas namely, Aminabad, Chowk and Lal Bagh so that if you want to go restaurant hopping like us, this would make your life easy.
The Chowk Area
Raheem Kulcha & Nahari
In the narrow lane, which goes from Chowk to Akbari Gate, almost at the end on your left would be this old time eatery which starts quite early. They are famous for their Nahari and Kulcha. As soon as we settled down, our order for Nahari with Kulcha landed almost instantly. The old man supervising the counter came in, checked the temperature of the Kulcha and asked the server to take it back and bring the fresh hot one. We were quite impressed.
A plate having a golden yellow curry with Mutton pieces playing hide and seek landed on our table with a generous sprinkle of chopped green coriander. The oil on the top was minimal and gave an aroma of fat mixed with the meat. One spoonful of the gravy on the palate and it was divine. The spices were light, the gravy was rich and yet full of flavours. It had that Mughlai punch albeit a subtle one. The Meat was silken like melt in mouth. An authentic Nahari, slow cooked, perhaps over night. One of the best and a must try.
Having recovered from the taste attack of Nahari, this Kulcha was yet another punch of delight. It is unique to the city. A double layered flat bread had a flaky crispy outer with a soft inner. One could try to describe it as a cross between the baked flat bread and a puff pastry. I could have it on its own. When paired with the Nahari, it is a divine combo. We had this as our breakfast. However, it would still be a delight to have it as part of any meal.
Google Location : https://goo.gl/maps/MXRAtnsrjV6EaT5o9
Diagonally opposite Raheem, is the iconic Tunday Kababi from where the owner late Haji Murad Ali started almost 115 years ago. This place serves Buff Galawati Kebabs with Sheermal and Ulta Tawa Parantha. This place opens up after 10 am, therefore, we had to sadly miss eating here. However, the loss was compensated by eating at their another popular outlet of which we shall talk later in the story. In case you are here during its operating hours, please don’t miss this. Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/4jRJJj15NvwgnRmF7
After enjoying our meal at Raheem and missing at the Tunday Kababi, we came out of the Akbari Gate and started walking left. We were told that on that road, there are two more eateries namely, Mubeen and another outlet of Raheem. One could eat there as well. However, our destination was the iconic Idrees Biryani. Despite having a huge fan following, the place still holds that rustic charm. It looks like just a country side cooking place. You either get a takeaway or stand there or eat.
Since we were a bit early, from the outlet’s standard, we got our portion right out of the ‘Pehli Degh” (first batch) of the day. The pipping hot plate of Biryani looked amazingly beautiful. Almost three colours of long grain rice played hide seek with pieces of meat peeping out. It gave a subtle aroma and had minimal oil. First spoonful in the mouth told me that it was best in class. Each grain of rice was coated with flavours of Yakhni (meat broth). I dug a bit deep into the plate and could notice that the rice underneath were more moist. The Yakhni had some part settled below which was bursting with flavours. The meat too had subtle flavours with the taste of meat dominating. Although, the meat was a bit hard for my expectation but then, I was told that despite the feedback, the owner prefers to maintain it that hard only. I had a brief chat with the very polite and humble owner to check whether to call it a biryani or pulao. He smiled and said that although it was a Yakhni Pulao but is famous as Biryani. If you love Biryani, do not miss this one. Google Location : https://goo.gl/maps/zq9jXDgsqgEzJobm8
The Amibabad Area
This one is second most popular outlet of the iconic eatery of Lucknow. Our order was the standard Galawati Kebab with Ulta Tawa Parantha which was served to us in no time. Four pieces of golden brown Kebabs in the round shape sat pretty in the plate. These Kebabs are shallow fried in very less oil in a typical wide vessel like Tawa. Place your finger on the Kebab and with a slight pressure it would leave its shape. The outer was a thin crust which gave way to a paste like minced meat. The flavourful kebab is a deadly concoction of spices complementing the meat which had a melt in mouth consistency. Surely a must try.
The Ulta Tawa Parantha is again a delight. It is of huge size which has a slightly crispy yet soft texture. I was told that it is made with Maida and Rawa mix and is kneaded with milk. While I had a portion of Kebabs on its own, the rest was enjoyed with the Parantha which makes it a deadly combo. Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/sqKjx5D9VbLLQnReA
In a lane diagonally opposite the Tunday Kababi, you would find this yet another gem of an eatery. You may not find any signboard except this standee. We crossed this and found a counter lined up with vessels. Enter it from its side and you would be comfortably seated. Ritesh knew what was to be ordered. And in no time, we got Mutton Boti Kebab, Band Gosht and Bheja Fry served with Ulta Tawa Parantha.
Mutton Boti Kebab, was a dark brown thick curry with boneless Mutton morsels peeping out of it. The thick gravy was full of flavours with a slight punch of poppy and fennel seeds. The meat was melt in mouth. Perhaps I did not need anything else. It was a real find of the day. Wait, its still not over. The Band Gosht was a goldish yellow curry which gave a tangy aroma. The first spoonful of the gravy in the mouth told me that it was a unique concoction of Mughlai spices with a tang of curd. The mutton is cooked in lots of onions and curd on “Dum” like one cooks Dum Biryani, hence the name Band (closed) Gosht. Another theory says that the Meat is marinated with in curd with spices and is tied in a cloth and hanged for few hours. And therefore, due to the process of tying in cloth, it is given this name. Whatever, the preparation is amazingly unique and is a delight to savor. The Bheja Fry (Brain Curry) was a dry dish and had a chunky texture which was aptly spicy. The chunks were silky smooth were coated with flavourful spices. One of the best Bheja preparation. The Ulta Tawa Parantha complimented each of the dish to give you a complete satisfaction and enjoyment. A must visit place if you love meat.
Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/f8MSEEyxQHnXRNAE9
Lal Bagh Area
This place is in amidst of eateries serving non veg. We had chosen this one to taste their unique preparation known as Majlisi Kebab or Ghutwa Kebab (pulverized). As the name suggests, what landed on our table was a real delight to look at. In an earthen bowl, a thick paste like dark brown curry sat pretty. It had a bit of glaze over it and gave a royal mughlai aroma. A dig into it with a spoon revealed that yes it was a paste and seemed like a North Indian cousin of Haleem from Hyderabad. The fine meat mince is cooked over slow flame with spices in a vessel and is roasted and mashed while cooking. It was low on oil and spices and yet had a fine blend of meat roast meat flavours and spices. Went very well with Rumali Roti. Again, this is a must have dish.
When in Lucknow, one has to try the iconic Kakori Kebab and there might not be a better place than Naushijaan for it.
The plate having four delicate pieces of the Kebab arrived on our table. The goldish brown Kebabs gave the aroma of mild spices and roasted meat. The Kebab had a very fine film like coating on it which came from the fat. It was crispy and once you bite, it leads you to a paste like minced meat full of sharp flavours. The meat melts in your mouth in no time. The taste and texture is a result of first roasting over flame and then finishing it over tawa. An amazing preparation.
Google Location: https://g.page/shamilshamsi-lko?share
At a walking distance from Naushijaan and next to the Gymkhana Club is this iconic old time eatery. It is not only a restaurant but also a training institute for Awadhi Cuisine and it is learnt that many an accomplished Chefs have undergone training at this place.
Our order here comprised Mutton Chap, Shami Kebab and Biryani.
When this plate landed on our table, we were a bit confused. We had ordered Mutton Chap but this one looked like yet another version of Haleem or the meat paste. However, when dug into the thick curry, much to our astonishment, the Mutton Chops appeared.
This is yet another culinary marvel of Lucknow. This thick concoction was a flavourful delight of subtle masalas and brown onions. The meat was super soft and had silk like texture. I did not need any bread to go along with it. This is unique and a must try dish.
What came next on the table was yet confusing, again. A mound of paste like meat sat in it giving an indication of a Kebab. Well yes, this was our Shami Kebab. This again is a marvel. Shami is made with minced meat mixed with Chana Dal and spices. This is shallow fried over low flame. Mostly, Shami is done like a round tikki but this one lacked any definite structure. The outer was crisp and the inside was soft and yet firm. It was paste like and yet had apt amount of binding of Chana Dal powder. And, it was aptly moist. Like Galawati, it was melt in mouth and yet had a body. Once dug deep inside, one could see chopped onions and green chili concealed inside in some sort of pockets. Actually, a different Shami Kebab what you get else where. When here, must try this one.
We had ordered Biryani also. But by this time, I was quite full so resisted having it. However, the aroma was so inviting that I had to taste it for the experience. And I am glad that I did it. Believe me, I just took one spoonful and a bomb of flavours blasted on my palate. This was followed by another spoon and then another. The Biryani here was unique. It had long grain rice in two colours. It was aptly moist and minimal oil. Besides the subtle spices flavour, it had a unique tang which was significant. This lifted the entire thing up. The meat pieces in this biryani were super soft and succulent. This is a must have Biryani in the city.
They also do a Bhuna Gosht. The man at the counter sent us a complimentary portion to taste. The looks resembled the Sukha Mutton normally done in north and west of India. The aroma was of subtle spices, meat and the fat. The thick gravy was a concoction of onion based masala done in spices over slow flame. The meat, yet again, was soft and succulent. Since it came towards the end and we were full till the hilt, we could not do justice with it. However, it is also a must try dish at this place. Google Location : https://goo.gl/maps/SPeHF9Ekjwx5CYSMA
So, in this trip, we could cover these significant eateries serving some amazing stuff. Go and try these. You would love the offerings. I am sure there are many more which are lesser known and yet have great offerings. Do share with me if you know of. Ritesh has some more up his sleeve which he said he would take me to in my next trip. Next week, in the concluding part of this series, I will bring you Chat, Snacking and Desserts. Till then…
Read the Part 1 of my blogpost on Breakfast in Lucknow here :