Also known as the “City of Nawabs”, Uttar Pradesh’s capital, Lucknow, is famous for its culinary cultur, especially the range of juicy and rich kebabs and delicate sweets.
A true Lucknowite knows that Lucknow’s cuisine, though dominated by the influence of Awadh, has a distinct mix of delicacies that make the city’s street food stand apart. A typical “Sham-e-Awadh”, or evening in Lucknow, is incomplete without enjoying the flavours of a plate of pani-puri or the tenderness of a malai paan or malai gilauri. It is common to spot a student returning from college to stop and savour a kebab roll, or an office-goer enjoying chai with a plate of scrumptious aloo tikki.
If you are planning to enjoy the chilly winters in the city on a holiday, here is a line-up of street food dishes that will romance your taste buds and keep you wanting more.
Basket Chaat at Royal Cafe
This is a famous evening snack prepared with deep-fried julienne of potatos that form a basket. This is filled with aloo tikki (potato patty) and garnished with yoghurt, pomegranate seeds, sweet red chutney, finely chopped coriander and ginger. Topped with a pinch of chaat masala, red chilli powder, and black salt, the flavours melt in the mouth without failing to top the list of street food in Lucknow. Although you can find the snack almost in all of the city’s major markets, the ultimate and most authentic basket chaat is served at The Royal Cafe in Hazratganj.
Address: Royal Cafe, 51, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Sushanpura, Hazratganj, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226001
Bhuni Matar at Shukla Chaat House
Bhuni Matar, or the fried white peas, is another iconic snack native to Lucknow’s street food culture. Prepared by frying boiled white peas in pure ghee, you can enjoy the snack by topping it with lime juice or yoghurt and chutneys. Lucknow folks also love to munch on it along with parathas and rotis as a main course meal. Like basket chaat, bhuni matar is omnipresent in most markets, with the best and the most famous one prepared by Shukla Chaat House in Hazratganj. Fun fact about this chaat house: The place has been visited by celebrities like Kangana Ranaut and Nushrat Bharuchha.
Address: Shukla Chaat House, Church building, 11, Shahnajaf Rd, Hazratganj, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226001
Galouti Kebab at Tunday Kababi
Prepared with a lot of nafasat (finesse) and tenderness, galouti kebab is one of the most famous dishes of Lucknow’s Awadhi cuisine. Its origins are said to be from a nawab who had issues with chewing. His bawarchis came up with these lamb and beef kebabs that would melt in the mouth. Hence the name galouti kebabs (galawat meaning melting). One of the oldest shops known for them is Tunday Kebabs, whose first branch opened in 1905 near Gol Darwaza in the Chowk area of Old Lucknow. Enjoy these succulent kebabs with the saffron-coloured bread known as sheermal or with Mughlai parantha; the palatable kebabs will surely have the power to transcend you to the era of royalty.
Address: Tunday Kababi, Near Gol Darwaza, Chowk Bazaar, Lucknow
Malai Gilauri at Ram Asrey Sweets
Native to Lucknow and again coming from the courts of the nawabs, malai gilauri or malai paan was invented as a substitute for the real paan filled with cloves and cardamom. Owing to weak teeth, the nawabs, who loved chewing paan, asked the bawarchis to come up with an exquisite sweet that would satiate their cravings for paan. Thus, a gooey-soft dessert made with layers of milk folded in a triangular fashion was born, which had the richness of nuts and crushed cardamom. Thus, when in the city, you cannot miss out on this legendary sweet, which can be found at the famous shop known by the name Ram Aasrey in Old Lucknow.
Address: Ram Asrey Sweets, Ban Wali Gali, Chowk, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226003
Shahi Tukda at The Awadh’s Dastarkhwan
Similar to French toast, Shahi Tukda is another unique dessert that Lucknow folks love to eat and make. Coming from the palaces of Moghuls, the rich and festive dessert is made with bread, ghee, milk and nuts, often topped with sugar syrup and condensed milk. The royal bite is said to have been in the kitchens since the Emperor Babur brought it to India in the 1600s. And Lucknow has been proudly carrying it forward to present times as well. So if you have a sweet tooth, the dessert is a perfect fit for you.
Address: The Awadh’s Dastarkhwan, 3/106, Mandi Parishad Rd, Vivek Khand 3, Gomti Nagar, Lucknow