Awadhi Thaali

BM # 15   Day 4

Awadh was the  name for present Lucknow and the surrounding regions of Uttar Pradesh.The state of Nawabs has a rich cuisine.The cuisine consists of both  veg and nonveg food cooked in Dum Pukht style.Dum is a art of cooking over slow fire.Awadhi Cuisine is rich with its ingredients  Paneer , Khoya , Cardamon , Saffron and nuts are extensively used to make the food rich.They do not use a hundred spices but use a handful of uncommon spices .The slow cooking lets the juices absorb  in the solid parts.

When we talk of Lucknow  we immediately think of the various Kebabs  which are a delicacy of this Nawabi state.Kebabs in Lucknow are cooked on chulaaas unlike the Kebabs of Punjab which are made in the big clay oven ,called tandoors.Some of their famous Kebabs are the Galouti Kebab and Kakori Kebab. For some more interesting kebabs you could check here and here. For this spread I cooked the Hara Bhara Kebab, but a fried version instead of the tandoori one.

Hara Bhara Kebab..the deep fried version

They have a huge spread and most of the dishes are very elaborate like kormas, biryanis , zardas.Their gravies have lot of nuts , khoya and paneer.Since they cook lot of stuffed vegetables I choose to make Stuffed Tomatoes.

When it comes to breads they have the famous Roomali Roti,Lachha parathas,Warqi Parathas.Kulchas and Naan.The rice variety has the dum biryanis or Nawabi Pulaos. Nawabi Pulao is one of my favorites and we cook this a lot for our  formal meals.Simple ,yet very flavorful this pulao can be relished with most gravies.

Getting on to their sweet section...They are a specialist with their Halwas and use different cereals such as gram flour,sooji wheat. Nuts, cardamon and saffron go in without saying.I have prepared a Kalakand Halwa ,which is very very rich.

The Awadhi Chaats and chutneys have a special flavour.These are totally mouthwatering and unique.One cannot miss these on a trip to Lucknow as you would not miss to buy a nice Chikin kari outfit there. Mildly sweet, spicy and tangy the Sweet Potato Chutney is totally unique.

The Awadhi Menu
(Freshly picked rose petals go into this  heavenly drink to refresh you)

Hara Bhara Kebab
(Raw banana and veggies spiced to make a mouthwatering Kebab)

Shakkargandhi ki Chaat
(Smoky ,roasted spicy sweet potatoes served with a dash of lemon)

Curries / Daals
Sultani Daal
(Pigeon pea daal made rich with yogurt,cream and milk..cooked with dungar method)
Stuffed tomatoes
(scooped tomatoes,filled with cottage cheese, fried into a dumpling  simmered into a rich gravy)
Mattar ka Nimona
(Blended farm fresh peas made into a curry with lentil dumplings)
Awadhi Dum Bhindi
(Okra,onions and capsicum cooked with dum style..with a live charcoal)

Nawabi Pulao
(rice cooked in milk,garnished with fried almonds , raisins and baked with saffron)

Roti / breads
Lachha Paratha
(Layered Indian flat bread)

Sweet Potato Chutney
(Sweet potato blended with make an awsum chutney)
Boondi Anaar ka Raita
(Gram flour mini dumplings mixed with yogurt and served with red rubies)

Kalakand Rawa Halwa
(Rich halwa with a unique flavor of kalakand,garnished with saffron, almonds and pistachios)


Stuffed Tomatoes

Mattar ka Nimona

Sultaani Daal
Dum Bhindi (I forgot to place this in the thaali pic)

Kalakand Rawa Halwa

Boondi Aaar ka Raita

Shakkargandhi ki Chaat

Nawabi Pulao

Now coming to today's recipe...

Mattar ka Nimona

200................... gms shelled peas

100....................gms mungodis
2.........................large onions,sliced,fried to a crisp golden
¼ tsp................ red chilly pwd
¼ tsp................ turmeric pwd
½ tsp................ cumin seed pwd
½ tsp................ garam masala
1.........................bay leaf
½ cup............... tomato puree
1tbsp................ ghee 
Salt to taste

To be made into a paste
1’’ piece........... ginger
6cloves............ garlic
½ tsp .................cumin seed

Pre prepare…
Make a paste of 100 gms peas.Boil the rest.
Make a paste of fried onions.
Shallow fry the mungoris.

Heat ghee.
Add bay leaf.
Add the ginger garlic paste.Saute’.
Add the peas paste.Saute’.
Add the fried onion paste’.Saute’.
Add the mungoris and tomato puree and all the spices.
Cook till the ghee comes up.
Add water and simmer till the mungoris are cooked.

Kalakand Rawa Halwa
  4-6 pieces............ kalakand burfi
¼ cup...................... ghee
½ cup...................... sooji
½ cup...................... milk
¼ cup...................... sugar
½ tsp....................... cardamom pwd
Few strands saffron

Heat ghee.
Roast sooji till pink.
Add milk and 1cup water.
Cook till forms a mass.
Add sugar and cardamom pwd.
Add the crumbled kalakand burfi.
Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Garnish with saffron , almonds and raisins.

Its very interesting to know that the cooks were divided into three categories.The Bawarchis cooked food in large quantities.The Rakabdars cooked in small gourmet quantities and specialized in garnishing and presentation. The third category  was the Nafus who were specialist with roti , chapati , naans and all kinds of breads.Normally one cook never made the whole meal..unlike us!!..where from chopping to cooking and serving is done by one person!!

I cooked this meal in two parts. Mattar ka Nimona and Sultaani Daal both being first time trial dishes took long ..say over an hour and the rest of the dishes took about 1 and ½ hour , this was so because I was known to these dishes.I finished my choppings,ginger ,garlic,onion and purees one day in advance.

Before I finish I must tell you some cooking methods which are used by the Awadis.
.Dungar..this is a quick smoke procedure to flavor the dishes,where a live coal is placed on onion skin or bay leaf in the dish and hot ghee is poured on this,and covered immediately to prevent the smoke escaping .The smoke penetrates every grain of the ingredient and imparts a wonderful aroma to the dish.This is what I have used for Sultaani Daal.
Dum Dena..I am sure you all know about this.Dum means breath .The process involves placing the semi cooked ingredients in a pot and sealing it with dough.This is placed on very slow fire.Live coal is placed on top of the flour dough seal .I tried making the Awadhi Dum Bhindi in the Dum style.
Baghar is a method of tempering the dish,with hot ghee  and spices either at the beginning or at the end of the dish.the pot is immediately covered to retain the aroma of the spices.This cooking method is normally used by us in everyday cooking.

Cooking and serving this meal was a wonderful experience..the Sultaani Daal got 5 star voting.The kids loved the Halwa.I freaked out on Mattar ka Nimona ,one dish I had been wanting to try since long.The sweet potato chaat was really tongue tickling..with a smoky ,spicy and sweet taste.An experience to try this wonderful lavish spread!!

This Thaali goes to Valli's Thaali Mela

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