Bada imambada lucknow

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow” – Anita Desai


I guess Lucknow has become a part of me too. The fascinating narrations of the golden rule by the Nawabs of Persian descent, introduction of tasteful Architecture, Food and Crafts by them along with the existence of intriguing Tawaif culture made Lucknow, a mystic city for me. Gone are the days of Nawabs, so has the Tawaif culture, what remains are the stories of Architecture, Food and Crafts for us to experience.

Order food at Lucknow station

Food –

India will always be indebted to the Nawabs of Lucknow for bringing in such mouth-watering recipes.  Lucknowi food is also called as Awadhi cuisine. There are umpteen places in the city which exist from the days of Nawabs and still serve their notable delicacies in the same fashion.

Galauti Kebabs:

The world famous Galauti Kebabs are also known as Tundey Kebabs, is another attraction for the food lovers. These mouth melting beef or mutton kebabs were first served to a Nawab by an amputee, and since then they got famous as Tundey kebabs (tundey means amputee in hindi). And now the grandson of the original inventor of this dish is running the shop under the name of ‘Tunday Kababi’.

Nihari Mutton with Kulcha:

Rahim ki Nihari Kulcha at Akbari Gate, Chowk Bazaar is how it is described on daily basis. Rahim’s is the only shop where you get the finger licking curry with slow cooked beef/lamb and bone marrow broth along with crispy baked kulcha. You might want to top it with Kesari Phirni in the end.

Rahim's Nihari Kulcha
Rahim’s Nihari Kulcha

Lucknow Yakni Pulao:

When I first saw the shop which serves the best mutton pulao in Lucknow, I couldn’t believe it. The place was in dilapidated state, but the bevy of hungry people was convincing enough. The shop prepares mutton pulao in small batches and serves it fresh and my mouth waters while describing this.

Yakni Pulao
Yakni Pulao


You might want to visit Shukla Chaat Shop for it’s famous katori chaat and other lip smacking snacks.


All that orange breads that you see on the streets of Lucknow, goes into the mud oven for baking. It is a sweet naan and can be eaten all by itself or along with spicy curries.


Malai Ki Galori: 

I am not a fan of milk sweets but this one from Ram Asrey at Hazratganj in particular is famous for those visiting Lucknow for sweets.

Lucknowi Paan:

I am not such a big fan of chewing betel leaf, but this one is the best paan I had in my life. It’s a sweet treat to your food experience in Lucknow.

One visit is not enough to explore all the food available in Lucknow. I am surely visiting soon again for the rest, that is out there calling me.

Order food at Lucknow station

Architecture –

Bara Imambara:

The shrine was built by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh in 1784 for Shia Muslims for observing Muharram.  The structure is built such that it is supported by open spaces called as labyrinth.

Bada imambara
Bada Imambara | Image credits: BuzzInTown

Chota Imambara:

Another shrine built by another Nawab for similar purpose. The interesting feature about this structure is that the outer walls are beautified all over by the Arabic Calligraphy and the interiors of it by colorful Turkish and Persian styled lamps.

Chota Imambada
Chota Imambada


A red-bricked complex which is falling apart, has a rather significant history. The residency was terribly affected during the mutiny in 1857. The marks of canon balls can be easily identified on the outer walls of the structure.

La Martinere College:

A prestigious school which served as a palace to Major General Claude Martin during the British rule. He is also buried here. The building reflects French and Spanish architecture.

Order food at Lucknow station

Crafts –

The Nawabs not only brought food but crafts which were instantly adapted by the local people. The crafts have since then became the common means to earn money.

Chikan Art:

Fine thread work embroidery on piece of cloth is what you’ll see most people wearing in Lucknow. Although this art can be found in the other parts of the country too but this is where it originated. You can witness the whole process from block printing at Chowk area, washing of the clothes at Dhobi Ghat to Embroidery by the women.

Block printing
Block printing | Image credits: Cultures of India

Silver Work:

Nakkasi is the term used for the carving on malleable silver plates. These carved silver wares/coins are widely used in temples and ceremonies.


If you are someone who likes Persian style Itr, Lucknow is the place to buy them. There are several shops in the Chowk area where you can buy them. They are cheaper than the branded perfumes and smells even better.

A day in Lucknow is a must for anyone who loves history, food, culture and getting lost in the memory lanes of the city.

Itr seller in Lucknow
Itr seller in Lucknow | Image credits: Koshy Koshy, Flickr CC

Best time to go: July to Sept during Monsoons and November to February during Winters

How to reach: Lucknow and Kanpur railway station (Kanpur is only 90 km away).

Feature Image source: Adeel Anwer, Flickr CC

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An ode to Lucknow and Awadhi food

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