Monday, March 14, 2011

Lucking out in Lucknow

I've apologized for my blog's neglect before, by explaining that when I write here I don't write my dissertation. Well, turns out I finished, so now I have no excuses. Not much else has changed--I think it's funny to choose 'Dr.' as a prefix on online surveys and I'm looking for a job because I chose to take a break from academia (more on this later, I'm sure).

I did, however, just get back from a trip to India to celebrate my cousin's wedding. This involved roughly 64 members of our clan flying to Kanpur for a weekend and being graciously hosted by his girlfriend's family. There was excellent food, tremendous fashion and heartening time with our huge family. On the way back to Bombay, a smaller subset of us (18 people) took a detour to Lucknow for 2 days.

There, I ate a damn good meal.

It was a foodie trip for sure. Lucknow, you see, is known for two main things: chikan embroidery work and pretty phenomenal kebabs. My family agreed from the start that we were going to Lucknow to eat, first and foremost, and that we might shop on the side for some chikan gifts for others back home.

We shopped a bit the first evening, where my cousin, L, used her mobile to text pictures back to cousins in Bombay and take their orders if they liked something. It was all very technologically saavy and, in the midst of these Arab revolutions, pretty consistently demonstrated that we've entered an age completely pervaded by social media. In the end, I got a kurta, watched some men blockprint fabric by hand, and played with my nephew.

The rest of the trip was about the food. We were stopped by some disturbance in the streets from going to Tunday Kebabi our first night, but ended up at an excellent dhaba in the middle of a street of streetstalls. We feasted on shaami kebabs and reshmi kebabs, with some tandoori chicken, biryani, and meat "stew" on the side for good measure. The best part of the meal, we all concurred, was the "stew" gravy, which we sopped up with our freshly warm rumali rotis (named after the indian hankerchief).

The genius of our trip was that we made it to Tunday Kebabi the next day and had exactly the same meal there. That's what I love about my family and the way it eats. They love trying new things (my grandmother is particularly fond of beef burgers in the US, it turns out), but they know when something is worth reveling in. It was a comparison of sorts, and we discussed which place had the better of two dishes while reminiscing about the family memories. Both meals were made remarkably indulgent by one of my bhaoji's attentive ordering for the entire table. He stood over us, watched which dishes we loved and devoured and then ordered more immediately. An endless supply of heaven, basically.

I regrettably fell sick with a stomach bug for the second half of my trip, so Bombay was (surprisingly) unable to top Lucknow's meals. If I'd had the tum for it, however, I know Trishna would have done the job. As it is, I'll just have to make sure I get there next time. It's been too long.

In honor of Lucknow's upset victory, I'm making reshmi kebabs for dinner tonight. Here's the recipe I use:


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
  • 3 green chilies, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, pureed
  • 1 tbsp ginger, pureed
  • 1 tbsp garlic, pureed
  • 1 tsp all spice powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to pan fry

  • Mix all the spices, cilantro, green chillies, breadcrumbs and eggs in the minced beef and make elongated kebabs or patties.
  • Pan fry till dark golden brown on each side.


darren said...

Yay - Gastro-Politico is back!!!

But a beef recipe!! You're alienating your Hindu/Vegetarian/Vegan readership!! :)

Julie said...

I'm delighted to have a 'readership' period, and will hasten to post my favorite recipe tonight--which just happens to be vegan too!

Robyn said...

I love your recipes, Julie! And sooner rather than later, I'll be your ginger-peeler. Must. practice.

Glad you had a brilliant time in Lucknow! Take me with you next please!

Milind said...

Hi jul, enjoyed reading your write-up. The kebabs seem to have impressed you so much that you haven't said a thing about the 'biryani' which is the other thing Lucknow apparently is famous for..Were they made from mutton or beef?

Julie said...

Thanks! I'm pretty sure they were made from mutton, since the non-beef eating members of our family didn't think twice... but, maybe, when in Rome...

Phil said...