Travelling To Kanpur? Top 7 Iconic Dishes You Must Try
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Kanpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, has a rich historical and cultural heritage. The city was founded by the rulers of the Chandela dynasty and it rose to prominence during the British colonial era. One of India’s major industrial cities, Kanpur is known for its leather and textile industries. 

Kanpur's culinary heritage is a rich tapestry woven with influences from its historical, cultural, and geographical context. Sitting on the banks of the Ganga, Kanpur is a key centre for trade and cultural exchange. Over centuries, the city absorbed influences from Mughal, Awadhi, and British cuisines, which significantly shaped its food culture. The city's cuisine reflects its diverse population and its historical significance as a major industrial and trade hub in North India. 

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Apart from influences from the Mughals in dishes such as Biryani, Kebabs and Nihari and Lucknow's Awadhi cuisine like the Galouti kebab, Korma and Sheermal,  Kanpur's street food is legendary, offering a variety of flavours and textures that cater to every palate and budget. From Kachori-Sabzi and chaat to samosas, you will find every variety of finger-licking good snacks here. Those with a sweet tooth also won’t be disappointed in Kanpur. From Jalebi, Raslmalai and Peda to special ladoos and kulfi, you will be spoiled for choice. Here’s a list of dishes you can’t leave Kanpur without trying.

Kachori Sabzi 

Photo credit: Kachori Sabzi

Kanpur's Kachori Sabzi is a quintessential breakfast dish that holds a special place in the city's culinary heritage. Known for its bold flavours and satisfying texture, this dish is a must-try for anyone visiting Kanpur. Its combination of crispy kachoris with a spicy, tangy potato curry and a side of tamarind chutney makes it a favourite among locals and visitors. While you can find kachori sabzi in many eateries and sweet shops, it is most famously enjoyed as a street food, with numerous stalls and vendors specialising in this delicacy. It is usually served with sliced onions and green chillies.

Restaurant Recommendations:  Bachulal Kachori Wala, Swaroop Nagar

Type: Vegetarian

Budget: ₹200–350, approx.


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You can get a variety of laddus at various places in Kanpur; the one that comes highly recommended is Thaggu Ke Laddu, a shop that’s famous for its unique and delicious laddus. Started over 50 years ago, the sweet shop has become a cultural landmark in Kanpur. The name "Thaggu Ke Laddu" translates to "Laddus of the Cheat." The name and tagline were coined by the founder, who humorously admitted that he used to sell sugar-laden sweets despite knowing the health consequences of sugar. Thaggu Ke Laddu offers a variety of laddus packed with khoya, nuts and dried fruits. 

Restaurant Recommendations: Thaggu Ke Laddu, Model Town

Type: Vegetarian Sweet Shop

Budget: ₹200–250 approx.


Samosa in Kanpur are slightly different from the ones found elsewhere. They are usually larger, with a crispier outer layer and a spicy filling of mashed potatoes and peas, flavoured with a blend of local spices. The filling is generously spiced with cumin seeds, coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, dry mango powder (amchur), ginger, and green chillies. Fresh coriander leaves are often added for extra flavour. The samosas are served with tangy tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney made from coriander and mint.

Restaurant Recommendations:  Hanuman Chaat Bhandar, Avon Market

Type: Vegetarian Sweet Shop 

Budget: ₹100–150, approx.


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Kanpur Biryani is a flavourful and aromatic dish that reflects the culinary traditions of the region. Its use of mild but rich spices and traditional dum cooking methods make it unique. Kanpur Biryani tends to be less spicy compared to Hyderabadi or Kolkata biryanis, focusing instead on aromatic spices that infuse the rice and meat with a rich, but not overly hot, flavour. The dish uses a blend of whole spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and bay leaves, along with ground spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala. Saffron is often used to add a subtle fragrance and colour.

Restaurant Recommendations:  Baba Biryani, Marble Market

Type: Non-Vegetarian 

Budget: ₹300–500, approx.

Badnam Kulfi

This creamy kulfi sold by the Thaggu Ke Ladoo shop is popular in Kanpur; the word "Badnaam" humorously means "notorious" in Hindi, suggesting that the kulfi is infamous for its irresistible taste. It is creamy and dense, unlike the regular variety and is served in small donas (cups made of leaves). The addition of nuts and aromatic spices like cardamom and saffron gives it a distinctive flavour and The kulfi is hand-churned between blocks of ice and salt. This gives it a thick, rabri-like taste and texture.

Restaurant Recommendations:  Thaggu Ke Ladoo, Model Town

Type: Vegetarian Sweet Shop 

Budget: ₹50–100, approx.

Matar Ki Ghugni 

Matar ki Ghugni is a popular snack or side dish in regions like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. It's a versatile chutzpah dish made primarily from dried white peas (matar), boiled and cooked with a variety of spices, and is usually served with rice or soft bread. It is garnished with chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, and a squeeze of lemon juice. In Kanpur, the Matar ki Ghugni tends to be moderately spicy, catering to the local preference for bold flavours without overwhelming heat. The tadka with mustard oil gives it a zing.

Restaurant Recommendations:  Ramswaroop Chaat, Birhana Road

Type: Vegetarian

Budget: ₹100–200, approx.

Malai Makhan 

Malai Makhan is a winter delicacy unique to Kanpur. It is a frothy, creamy dessert made from milk cream and flavoured with saffron and cardamom. This light and airy treat is often enjoyed in the morning during the colder months. It is made from milk and is typically prepared by boiling milk and then letting it cool down until a layer of cream forms on top. This cream is then collected and further infused with sugar, saffron, and sometimes cardamom. The result is an indulgent dessert.

Restaurant Recommendations:  Shukla Ji Makhan Wale, Birhana Road and Kallu Photo Makhhan Malai, Birhana Road

Type: Vegetarian

Budget: ₹300–350, approx.