Awadhi cuisine is generally considered the cuisine of the Kings of Lucknow. The cuisine consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes but has many unique dishes that catered to the richer tastes of the North Indian Royal class. The cuisine shows strong influences from central Asia, the Middle East and Northern India.
Historical and Cultural Influences on Awadhi Cooking
North India was regularly invaded by invaders from Central Asia, the Persians and Mongols. Over time, a few of the invaders settled down in the north of India, and adapted their meat based dishes to the local cuisine. Awadhi cuisine is a simpler adaptation of Moghlai cuisine to make it simpler and more palatable to the local ruling class of the time. Meat dishes were designed to be much softer to chew on and smoother on the palate due to the lesser spices. Kebabs and fried meats were generally quick fried on a tawa rather than on an open flame.
Ingredients Commonly Used in Awadhi Recipes
It is still considered traditional to eat sitting on the floor with a cloth called the Dastarkhwan spread out. The dishes were placed on this cloth and communal meals were common. Meat was essential but vegetables were cooked in unique methods that made them similar in taste. Quail was commonly eaten. Fish was used but river fish was more common than sea fishes. Rice was also served at every meal in the form of pulao, chulao , biryani or fried rice or plain boiled rice. Unleavened bread in the form of rotis, kulchas, naans, tandoori rotis, warqi parathas and leavened bread in the form of sheermal was very common. During the fasting month of Ramzan, special dishes were made like Kichra, Haleem, siwaiyan, Shab-e-barat etc
Cooking Methods for Awadhi Recipes
Awadhi cuisine was derived from Moghlai cuisine. But unlike moghlai cuisine, Awadhi cooks would marinate the food items in curd and use less spices. The food was then cooked slowly according to ancient awadhi cooking styles over a coal fire in a sealed dish.
Traditional Awadhi Recipes
There are a whole range of traditional awadhi dishes that are present in the Awadhi repertoire. The most popular ones that are known worldwide are-
- Haleem- soupy gravy cooked with boneless meat, broken wheat, lentils and grains flavored with spices.
- Tunde Kabab- a specialty dish which has a closely guarded 100 year old recipe.
- Kakori kabab, Galawat kabab and Shammi kabab are awadhi dishes which are soft tender pan fried pieces of minced meat.