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A `nawabi' fare


The Lucknow Food Festival at Kabura transports one to the era of royal delicacies.

LAID BACK: Harking back to a time when a meal was leisurely affair.

LUCKNOW, OFTEN called nawabon ka shaher (city of nawabs), has much to offer. While Imam bada and Bhul bhulaiyan enthral the tourists with their intricate architecture, the residents leave no stone unturned in extending hospitality to the travellers. Much is talked about the Awadh cuisine that flourished here thanks to the patronage of the food-loving nawabs.

The Lucknow Food Festival at Kabura takes one back to the times when food was not a hurried affair. Colourful kites and songs from Umrao Jaan add to the culinary experience. "The tehzeeb and the cuisine from this region is popular in the West and Far East . For instance, it is interesting to note that people in Singapore have a penchant for the Awadh platter," says Chef Abdul Haleem from Lucknow. Having started his training under Jiggs Kalra, at Hyatt Regency, New Delhi in 1991, Chef Haleem combines new world culinary influences with traditional recipes taken from the cook books of great grandfather Azghar Miyan, known for his Awadh cuisine that found vast patronage with the then nawabs. "Times have changed. Today people in the country are opting for fast food. Ironically, world cuisine is finding favour with the people here, while the Indian cuisine is in great demand abroad," he says.

TRULY LUCKNOWI: The taste is unbeatable.

One of the reasons for the shift, he observes is the time factor. "While fast food is meant to be eaten on the move, the delectable cuisine such as the Awadh platter, is best had in leisure, " he says. The preparation of the food is time consuming as well. For instance, the soup handi is kept to simmer on slow fire overnight and the result is a rich extract of chicken broth or lamb, flavoured with Avadhi herbs and saffron. The Murg shorba and Jehangiri shorba brought by Chef Haleem bears testimony to that.

Also, the spices used are finely grounded for the main course preparation, as against usage of khada masala in Hyderabadi cuisine. Also, the biryani is made in a different manner in the Awadh tradition. "It is called a pulao, where the rice is layered with assorted vegetable or meat gravy and flavoured with saffron," he says. The festival brings Murgh noor mahal pulao which can be teamed with recipes such as Murg tikka Mirza Hasnoo— succulent garlic flavoured chicken grilled on charcoal and Quorma Wajid Ali— cottage cheese and cauliflower cooked in cashewnut and khoya gravy. Aloo dum avadi will go well with the Hyderabadis owing to the yoghurt-based gravy, says Chef Haleem. Wrapping up the culinary fare are Eed ki sevian— a dry vermicelli delicacy topped with dry fruits and Gulati kheer— a rice and thickened milk preparation.

The Lucknow Food Festival is open for lunch (11.30 a.m.— 3.30 p.m.) and dinner (7p.m.— midnight), till August 3. For reservations contact Kabura, My Home Tycoon Building, Lifestyle building, Kundan Bagh, Begumpet, Tel: 55628800.

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