Awadhi cuisine is all about making nawabi delicacies. The cuisine reflects sophistication, refinement, and royal finesse. Awadh is present-day Lucknow and some of its surrounding areas. This northern region was under the rule of Mughals in the 16th century and was passed in the hands of the Nawabs after the Mughal dynasty began to wane. Burhan-ul-Mulk Saadat Khan, who was of Persian origin, became the first Nawab of Awadh. The culinary practices of the region witnessed changes during the reigns of various rulers. It was a blend of Mughal, Persian, and local influences. That’s one of the reasons why Awadhi food is confused with Mughlai food. While the former is marked by the nuanced use of spices and is popular for subtle and delicate flavours, the latter is all about fervent use of nuts, cream, spices, and milk. 

Awadhi Styles of Cooking

Dumpukht style of cooking is unique and considered to be the hallmark of Awadhi cuisine. It is believed to have originated in Persia and Central Asia. Dumpukht style is characterized by cooking food in a heavy-bottom vessel on a very low fire. The lid of the vessel is sealed by dough in this cooking technique. The main idea behind this distinctive style of cooking is to let the food cook in its own juices, and become perfectly infused with its own aroma and mix of flavours.

Another specialty of Awadhi cuisine is gil hikmat. It is a cooking technique that involves stuffing veggies or meat with spices and dry fruits, wrapping them with banana leaf, covering the layer with clay or multani mitti and finally burying them in the earth. It is further characterized by placing a low simmering fire on the surface where you buried the food. This way of cooking takes several hours. 

Dhungar is another popular Awadhi way of cooking food. It requires infusing the aroma of charcoal in a dish through smoking. 

Awadhi Cuisine And Its Delicious Treats

Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are a part of Awadhi cuisine. Some of its most renowned delicacies include kebabs, nihari, biryani, and korma. If you have tasted kebabs of Awadh, you won’t like it at any other place. A few non-vegetarian kebab options you can opt for include galawti, kakori, seekh, shami and boti. You can have these mouth-watering dishes with rotis or bread which would again come in different varieties like tandoori, kulcha, rumali, baqarkhani, naan, and sheermal

One of the most delicious Awadh affairs is dum biryani. It is different from other kinds of biryanis found in India. The delicate and subtle flavours of dum biryani are because of the spices used in it and the way of cooking. Awadhi dum biryani requires cooking rice and meat separately, then layering with spices and cooking again for a few hours. 

One of the major reasons why Awadhi foods scream authenticity is because royal cooks used to safely craft and guard new recipes and only used to share or pass down to their next generations. Even today, owners of several famous eating outlets of Awadhi cuisine in Lucknow boast of their secret recipes that make their food unique. We will talk about them some other time maybe.