Awadhi cuisine is greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques similar to those of Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad which is famous for its royal food.
The cuisine consists of both Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian delicacies. Mutton, paneer and spices like cardamom and saffron is highly used in these dishes. “The lucknowi or the Awadhi cuisine is the result of the Nawabs who have ruled the city for more than ages”, says, Ajay Rajput, Restaurant Manager, Brijwaasi, New Delhi. His restaurant serves mughlai, continental, chinese and other Indian foods. “Mughlai foods are prepared in thick white Gravy and are very rich”, he added.
Dum Pukht, one of features of this cuisine, involves sealing the ingredients in large haandis placed over slow fire and allowing the ingredients to cook in their own juices and aromas.
The richness of Awadhi cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but its ingredients used in creating such a variety. The Chefs commonly called Khansama in Awadh transformed the traditional dastarkhwan the Persian word meaning a dining spread with elaborate dishes like kababs, kormas, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, and parathas.
Jay Chauhan, Restaurant Manager, Park Balluchi, an Award winning restaurant for regional tourism award, Hauz Khaz, says, “We serve Awadhi or say Mughal foods, Hyderabadi foods and continental food, but Awadhi is the most preffered among all three.” According to him 70% of his customer base likes to eat Awadhi food adding that it is the most preferred cuisine.
He adds, “birayani, kofta murgh makhani, roghan josh are some of the non-veg dishes which are on demand by the customers. On the other hand, dal makhani, vegetable biryani and malai kofta are the vegetarian delights appreciated by the people. The cuisine consists more of dry fruits and curds; cashew nuts and melon seeds are used to make this type of gravy.”
But many people are of view that Nawabi cuisine is synonymous with non-vegetarian food, but they are wrong. There is a plethora of vegetarian options also in the form of subz begum bahar, paneer gulmohar and khus ke khaas kabab, firdousi aloo dum pukht.
And for the non-vegetarian lovers, the cuisine has a fine array of dishes like shami kabab, nihar gosht, biryani, mutton and many more including the famous dessert of the region, phirni, rabadi and the special meetha paan.
Chef Sunil Gangwal, Chef De Cuisine, Lavanna, Hyatt Gurgaon, says “The Awadhi cuisine is very traditional cuisine served from ages. It is very heavy cooked in Ghee and spices that are very rich and is prepared in dum pukht style”.