The Origin and Cooking Techniques of Awadhi Cuisine

The origin land for Awadhi Cuisine or Lucknowi Cuisine is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow and its nearby places. In the early stages, the British termed Awadh as “oudh” which was derived from “Ayodhya”, a region in the state of Uttar Pradesh. This region was ruled by many rulers but the history was made during the reign of “Nawab of Awadh“. Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula was the first known ruler of Lucknow who began to change the city into a city of culture and enhance its cuisine. During his time is when they had gastronome of cuisine and many cooks began to arrive. During those days the experience cooks who cooked food for big gatherings in large quantities called “Bawarchis” who were brilliant at what they do. At that time lots of competition has happened where cooks used to compete with each other to show their culinary skills by providing with a wide variety of food to please their Masters (Daroga-e-Bawarchikhana).

It takes an Awadhi chef a long time to properly understand how to correctly use spices, how to select, toast and blend the spices together to create a proper flavour. It is much harder than it sounds. There are easily fifty spices used regularly, but in total it’s more than 150. The most common are Hing, Liquorice, Black Peppercorn, clove, Caraway Seeds, Cumin, Coriander, Chilies, Fenugreek, cinnamon, saffron, green cardamom, and mace.

‘Dastarkhwan’ is where people sit around and enjoy the food prepared by the bawarchis. This is the place dining spread is laid ceremonially. It is said that the richness of Awadh cuisine not only lies in the variety but the type of ingredient used to make the dish.

Some of their authentic cooking techniques include:

  1. Baghar:

    Baghar is a method of tempering a dish with spices in hot oil or ghee when making any curry dish. Tempering is done before the curry is made or before any dal preparation with the help of a ladle at last to give a finishing taste.

  2. Dhungar/ Dhunger:

    A smoking procedure used to flavor meat dishes, dals, and rice. A live coal is placed in the center of a betel leaf or shallow onion peel and placed along with the other ingredients to smoke it.

  3. Dum Dena:

    Dum means breathe, the process is done by cooking in a sealed large pot, wherein a semi-cooked ingredient is placed in a vessel which is cooked over slow charcoal fire. One of the famous dish cooked by this process is Biryani or Dum Pukht Biryani.

  4. Galavat/ Galawat:

    The process of adding softening agents to meat in order to tenderize it. One such preparation is Galavati Kebab. Papain, Kalmi Shora are few softening agents which are used in this process.

  5. Ghee Durust Karna:

    This is the process of removing the raw flavor from the ghee or oil so that it does not overpower the flavor and aroma of the dish. The ghee is reduced after adding the kevra water and cardamom and then stored after straining it for further use.

  6. Loab:

    It is a term used to refer a final stage of cooking when the oil used in the cooking rises at the surface and floats on the top giving a finished appearance to the dish. Roganjosh is one such preparation in which oil floats at the top after the dish is done.

  7. Moin:

    The process of shortening a dough by kneading the flour with fat. This makes the final product crisp and flaky. This process is used to make parathas and pooris.

  8. Gile Hikmat:

    A Persian influenced method where the whole meat is stuffed with nuts and spices and wrapped using a banana leaf, covered with a clay and buried deep about 4-6 inches deep, a slow fire is then placed on top for cooking. It is cooked for about 6-7 hours.

  9. Ittr:

    Using perfume in many dishes is the key factor in Lucknowi cuisine, mainly they use perfume taken from the musk deer.

The Lucknow dastarkhwan would not be complete unless it had the following dishes:

  1. Qorma (braised meat in thick gravy)

  2. Salan (a gravy dish of meat or vegetable)

  3. Qeema (minced meat)

  4. Kababs (pounded meat fried or roasted over a charcoal fire)

  5. Bhujia (cooked vegetables),

  6. Pasinda (fried slivers of very tender meat in gravy)

  7. Gullati (rice pudding)

  8. Kheer (milk sweetened and boiled with whole rice to a thick consistency)

  9. Sheer khurma (a rich, sweet rice dish boiled in milk)

  10. Muzaffar (vermicelli fried in ghee and garnished with saffron)

As we dig deep into the Lucknowi Cuisine we discover the Characteristic taste and flavors of this region, this will make you recreate the authentic flavors of the Awadhi cuisine at your kitchen. It is often said that Awadhi cuisine is Mughlai cuisine but it is not, Awadhi cuisine may have a slight influence from Mughal but both the cuisine varies. Awadhi cuisine is one of the old & richest cuisines of India has now become limited in a small region.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *