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Wthe nawabs, Muhar­ram was ob­served in a lux­u­ri­ous and os­ten­ta­tious man­ner, with lav­ish pro­ces­sions led by drum beats and men in mourn­ing car­ry­ing ban­ners on long poles. At that time of the year, the Imam­baras were painted and draped in curtains made of fine gold em­broi­dery and the kitchens on the premises did not be­lieve in the old adage of too many cooks spoil­ing the broth! They pre­pared tab­baruk or of­fer­ings dis­trib­uted free of cost to count­less devo­tees. All through the ten days of mourn­ing, the nawabs, taluqadars and other dis­tin­guished per­son­al­i­ties of the city also re­ceived tab­baruk from the Imam­baras. The typ­i­cal food pre­pared for free dis­tri­bu­tion in­cluded one small sheer­mal bread, two khameeri ro­tis (roasted yeast bread), one dish of lamb pu­lao, one bowl of tale-aloo-ka-salan, (fried pota­toes in gravy), one clay pot of barfi, (sweet cakes made from milk and sugar) and a bowl of zarda (sweet saf­fron rice). The end of feu­dal rule has pulled the cur­tain down on such lav­ish prac­tices, re­duc­ing the an­nual tab­baruk of­fer­ing to a miserly por­tion of sheer­mal and potato curry. Be­sides kabab, quor­mas and pu­lao, Lucknow ex­celled in the mak­ing of pick­les and chut­neys – murab­bas, achaars and var­i­ous kinds of sweets – into which they cre­atively and painstak­ingly in­tro­duced hun­dreds of in­no­va­tions. Mango murabba is a pop­u­lar sweet and juicy rel­ish, but in Avadh the chefs would make mango murabba with whole un­ripe small man­goes, skill­fully re­tain­ing the orig­i­nal ap­pear­ance of the green outer skin. The fi­nal prod­uct looked as if, small and un­ripe man­goes had just been plucked from the tree and dipped into the syrup.

Mus­lim cooks were not very good in mak­ing sweet­meats; the non-mus­lim hal­wais ex­celled in this field. The ubiq­ui­tous jalebi, its big cousin imerti, balushahi and so­han halwa were some of the items pop­u­larly en­joyed, be­sides hal­was of var­i­ous other kinds pre­pared in the home kitchen. The cui­sine of Avadh is ba­si­cally non-veg­e­tar­ian, but there are re­gions and com­mu­ni­ties which ex­cel in the prepa­ra­tion of veg­e­tar­ian dishes. Th­ese dishes are sim­ple, but, are the ul­ti­mate choice in gourmet food. Daals or lentils were another sta­ple with plenty of va­ri­ety. The daal served on royal ta­bles was called khasgi daal. Arhar-ki-daal had two ba­sic va­ri­eties—daal bad­shah pasand and daal sul­tan. The most pop­u­lar dish of lentils in Avadh is keoti-ki-daal and daal sag­peta. Daal was also used in mak­ing a wide va­ri­ety of khichdis. It is said that at the ta­ble of Mirza Ba­hadur Sadiq Ali Khan, there would be 23 kinds of khichdis and 32 types of chut­neys to go with them.


The cui­sine of Lucknow re­flected the cour­te­ous cul­ture of the re­gion to a large

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