Lucknow, the seat of Awadh culture reminds us of the tradition “pehle aap’’ which means “after you”, the language blended with politeness and the life style of the Nawabs and the cuisines of Awadh which is a culmination of all the best in culture, science and art. The secret of utterly delicious Awadhi cuisine is not only in its variety but also in the key ingredients used in it. The people in this region believe that foods which are cooked following a slow method are more delicious. Let’s give a look at the top 5 key ingredients that comprises the secret of Awadhi Cuisine.
Often we confuse Awadhi Cuisine with Mughlai food. But Awadhi cuisine is not Mughlai food but has been influenced by Mughlai cooking style and also bears resemblance to Kahsmir and Hyderabadi style.
Following are the major differences:
- Cooking over slow fire or ‘dum style’ is the specialty of Awadhi style foods which has become synonymous with Lucknow. Mughlai food is know for the exotic usage of spices, nuts and dried foods.
- As the mughlai dishes were rich in spices combined with loads of cream and milk, Mughals reduced the number of food intake during the day. On the contrary Awadhi cuisines are not a concoction of hundred odd spices instead the difference lies in the preparation of the food by preserving all the nutrients in the cooking. The other major process of cooking Awadhi style foods also includes marinating meats to produce delightful taste.
- Awadhi cuisines are cooked on tawa, the flat iron griddle, opposed to Mughlai influences and bear a demonstration of the local culture and convenience. Mughlai foods are often grilled in Tandoor.
Culinary Terms and Techniques
Dum means breath and the process involves the insertion the semi-cooked ingredients in a deg or pot and then sealing the utensil with flour dough. A very slow charcoal fire is applied from top by placing some live charcoal on the lid and some below. The magic of dum cooking procedure is the excellent aroma aroma flavor and the texture that results from slow cooking.
Ghee Durust Karna
This is a vital step of cooking in almost every Awadhi dish. It is the seasoning of the cooking medium and then flavoring it with cardamoms and kewra water.
This is a quick procedure used to flavor dals, raita and most evenly a meat dish. The smoke permeates every grain of the ingredient and leaves an aroma which enhances the taste and quality of the dish.
This is a method of seasoning a dish with ghee or hot oil and spices. It may be done either at the beginning of the cooking like as in curries or at the end as in pulses.
This refers to the usage of softening agents such as kalmi shora or papain to tenderize the meat.
This refers to the final stage in cooking when oil used in the cooking rises to the surface. It occurs mostly when slow cooking is foolowd for gravy dishes giving it a finished appearance.
It is shortening of dough. In this process a little amount of oil or ghee is rubbed into the flour dough for the preparation of pooris, parathas and kachoris.
The cuts of Yakhni are bony pieces with flesh on them. These cuts are taken from the ribs and joints of the animal. The basic purpose is to derive the flavor and the juice.
In this process a hole is dug in the ground and the ingredients are placed and covered with mud. Then burning charcoal is placed over it.
It involves the decoration of the dishes with small pieces of sliver. Tiny pieces of silver are placed between two paper sheets and then patted continuously with hammer till it becomes papery thin. These are then used to decorate dishes before presentation.
The use of perfumes plays a vital role in Awadhi cuisine to enhance the fragrance of the dish.