Lakhnawi Dastrakhan (Lucknow Food Trail)

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Lucknow is known for its food cuisine. I have come here  for 2 days,  which I know are not enough to explore the history or food trail of the city. Due to time constraint, I had listed some well known and old eateries of Lucknow.

Royal Cafe in Hazratganj was already on the list. My husband, RB had visited this place almost half a century ago as a young boy. “Bajpayi kachori” of Hazratganj was another eatery on the list. Sharma ji ki chai, bati chokha , Aliganj and a good local awadhi biryani. These were on my wish list or call it hit list. 😛

After spending around 4 hours in Residency complex, we chose to go to “Bajpayi Kachori in Hazratganj. It’s one place  everyone has recommended. “Everyone” – who has visited Lucknow or has belonged to Lucknow and is on any whatsapp group, of whom I am a member. 🙂

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Bajpayee ji ki Kachori stall and queue of customers

Again Uber was booked for Bajpayee ki Kachori. As we reached a shop named Bajpayee ki kachori, my husband recognised that we are not in Hazratganj. The Uber driver said, this was the location selected. We checked and found that it was our mistake. There are two shops of the same name and no one can tell us if this is an extension of the original or not.

Any way, by this time, we were awfully hungry. We booked another Uber , this time for Bajpayee ki Kachori, Hazratganj. We got down at “Ramasre” Sweet shop in Hazratganj, opposite to Bajpayee’s. RB remembered Ramasre for his food cart in Hazratganj on his last visit decades ago. His food was good and very popular in those days. Just opposite to “Ramasre”, we saw a hole in the wall kind of shop, which was “Bajpayee ki Kachori. Few tables were kept outside for people to eat their fare, bang on a very busy and narrow road. It has a long queue. I detest the idea of queuing up for food. There were few delivery men from swiggy and zomato. We decided to use technology and get them home delivered rather than wasting time queuing up.

We walked towards the Royal Cafe. Google maps are a big help in a new city. One can reach the destination without any human intervention. It gives so much  independence, freedom and feel of safety to travelers. 

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As RB has seen Hazratganj in it’s old glory, he was sad at the condition of the area, afterall Lucknow is his ancestral city.  Old heritage buildings were being demolished and converted into big showrooms. Work was on for the metro and whole area was in shambles.

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Royal Cafe, Hazratganj, Lucknow

We had “basket chat” from Royal cafe as it has samples of almost everything which is “chat”. It’s simply divine. Besides the food served, the tehzeeb of Lucknow is visible in every conversation, which I heard while in Royal Cafe or anywhere else. “Matar tikki” was another item, which we selected from the menu on the advise of the waiter. It has unique blend of spices, soft and “melt in mouth” type and very tasty. I wish, I could have eaten few more of their preparations, but my stomach was full. My heart was still longing for more. 

I am biased towards UP ka khana, being a kayastha. Who can ever forget the taste of “Aloo puri and jalebi breakfast” from the nearest corner shop? Every mohalla has their favourite and “best” “aloo-puri-jalebi” nashta. 🙂

We took a stroll in the hazratganj. Going to hazratganj in good old days was referred to as “Ganjing” . It was the most happening place then.

The “bajpayi ki kachori” was the next morning breakfast. 

The “Swiggy” aggregator for home delivery of local food came to our rescue from the queuing at the outlet. We booked and got the food delivered within 28 minutes flat. Hot and piping kachories and sabzi. 

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Bajpayee ki Kachori

We were expecting the soft urad daal kachories with hing wale aloo. What we got were thick maida ki poori with aloo-chana topped with kachcha pyaaz. Disappointed somewhat. But then checked the rating of Bajpayi ji. Some confidence there. 🙂 The first bite made some change in our opinion about kachories. The food was good. Very spicy though. From the look of the shop/ outlet, we were worried about the hygiene. Bajpayi ji passed the hygiene test too as none of us had any stomach upset episodes. RB’s system is sensitive and his system okayed the Bajpayee’s hygiene. The kachories were actually poories. There was no fillings. I ordered kachories and poories both, as it was there in the menu. Thick maida poories , not swelled but hard and crispy which may be acceptable in a remote panjab location but not in UP, where poori- kachori are swelled and thin. It was tasty but nothing like UP style poori, kachori and hing aloo. I guess, I am disappointed as my expectations were not met. But it  was tasty, very spicy.

The last dish on the list was awadhi biryani. It’s a difficult option for a vegetarian. For non-vegetarian foodies, there are vast varieties available. We decided that we will go for biryani, where ever we will be during lunch time. We were in chowk market to do some chikankari shopping. Chowk area is the  wholesale market and one of the recommended places for hand made chikankari clothing. We reached Chowk only at lunch time after visiting the Imambaras and surrounding monuments like ghanta ghar, Roomi Darwaaza etc. An electric rickshaw took us there in Rs. 50 and 15 minutes.

We looked around and zeroed in on “Aryan Family Delight”. It’s rating on Zomato was 3.5/5. A casual dining place with nice ambience. We ordered Awadhi Vegetarian Biryani and chaach. The biryani was delicious. It was served with raita. Masala chach was equally good. Biryani was very light, rightly spiced and less oily. The vegetables and rice quantities were balanced and aroma of herbs were inviting.

We also had matka kulfi at Aryans. It was mildly sweet, with saffron flavour and was different than the kulfi served here in Ahmedabad. 

After having our stomach full, we had enough energy for shopping and bargaining . Finally, with big shopping bags, we reached our guest house by late evening. We had our dinner in the guest house.

Awadhi Biryani Vs Hyderabadi Biryani

When we talk about biryani, comparison between awadhi and hyderabadi biryani is natural.
Both the biryanis are cooked in “dumpukht”style. In “dum” cooking style, rice and meat/ vegetables are cooked in a sealed handi on low heat.Their similarities end here.

Awadhi biryani is also known as paki (पकी) biryani or cooked biryani.  The meat/ vegetables and rice are cooked separately, layered and then baked in dum.This is less spicy, less oily and light on stomach. While hyderabadi biryani is known as kachchi/raw/uncooked (कच्ची) biryani.The meat / vegetables are marinated in a mixture of spices for a few hours and then mixed with the cooked Biryani rice.This is cooked in sealed handi in “dum” style.Hyderabadi biryani is more spicy and tangy.It has more oil as compared to Awadhi biryani and is not as light as awadhi. Actually, it’s heavy on stomach.

Whatever may be the style, biryani has made a special place in our plates. It was first introduced in India, when Mughals captured the region, and the Arabs introduced it to some parts of South India.

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Sunset at Gomti Nagar

With this, our time in Lucknow came to an end. A memorable trip came to an happy ending.

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