Just when I thought that I was done with travel outside of Delhi for the year, a work trip to Lucknow came up. It was the 12th city I was visiting this year. This was my second trip to the city the last one being in 2005. So many things have changed since then. I have realized I am a foodie and now look forward to going to new cities and to experience different cuisines. I have become slightly wiser as well. I no longer order Chinese wherever I go. We were at Kodaikanal and the husband wisely ordered a fish curry and rice. I decided to order a noodle soup and American Chopsuey! To our horror, the waiter got noodles and soup separately, neither of which was palatable. The Chopsuey was no better. I must have eaten only two spoons of each dish while the husband flashed a “told you so” look and said I should have known better than to order Chinese in Kodaikanal. I have repeated the feat some more times with almost the same or worse results.
In 2005, I had not done any research and simply landed in the city for work and mostly ate at the guest house. I do recall having a biryani and a sandwich from CCD! This time around I had done my research and knew that I had to visit Tunday Kebabs and have their signature Galawati Kebabs. Apparently 165 spices go in to the kebab. It was made at the request of a toothless nawab who wanted to have a kebab that would melt in his mouth. The kebab was prefixed with the word tunday, which means “without an arm” after the cook/chef who made it as he had only one arm. A word that could be politically incorrect now stands for a chain that has earned itself a place in the food lore of Lucknow.
So my journey to Lucknow began on a Monday morning. Just as I was standing in the queue to enter the airport I witnessed an amusing sight. A little girl, about 4 years or so, handed her cute little red handbag to the security guy while her parents were removing their ID cards from their purse. The security guy asked her “Iska main kya karoon?” She promptly answered in all earnestness, “check karo”. The security guy laughed a hearty laugh and so did we all. What a lovely start to a Monday morning.
Thankfully the flight was on time and for the second time this year my colleague and I landed around the same time as each other. She was travelling from Bangalore and I from Delhi. I did feel a little bad when I received a message from her at 7.30am telling me that her flight was running on time. Bad because I was lying on my bed under a warm blanket while she had to wake up super early to catch a flight and reach Lucknow the same time as me. Ah well, that’s the advantage of living in Delhi and having to travel to cities in the North. When I picked up my luggage from the conveyor belt, the handle came off. I was sitting looking at it and wondering what to do when my colleague arrived and straightaway asked me to approach the airlines. Believe it or not, without any hassle they handed me Rs 300 for the damage to the handle! A form had to be filled of course.
As we travelled from the airport to the hotel, we saw the gigantic structures that had been erected by Ms. Mayawati and were saddened by what is and what ought to be.
Our first meal was at the Hotel we were staying in. They had a restaurant called Aadab which served Chinese, Continental and Lucknowi food. No prizes for guessing what I ordered this time! We ordered a vegetarian galawti kebab, a mutton biryani for myself, and a vegetarian biryani for my colleague. The kebab was awesome. Coming from a hardcore non-vegetarian like myself, you’ve got to trust me when I say it was good. It had paneer in it and was very soft.
The biryani was very good as well. It was not too spicy and was very close to a Bengali biryani minus a potato.
After finishing work we had some time before our flight back. With a little guidance from my colleague’s friend’s relative, we headed to the Saharaganj Mall which supposedly had a counter of Tunday Kababi at the Food Court. We had no time to head to Aminabad to the original outlet. Anyway, we were suprised to see the food court at the mall absolutely full on a weekday afternoon. As Tunday Kababi had no vegetarian dishes on their menu I packed the galawti kebabs and decided to have them for dinner in Delhi. At the food court, I spotted Mughlai Mahal and decided to order half plate of biryani, galwati kebabs, and one shirmal. The biryani was not even close to what I had had the previous day. This was very dry and I found it difficult to even finish half of it. The kebabs, on the other hand, were very good. They were soft and mushy. The shirmal was very different from the variety I’ve had at BBQ Nation and The Kebab Factory. It was not sweet at all and felt more like a red coloured paratha.
My colleague ordered Sarson ka saag and makki ki roti. It came with a generous knob of butter and jaggery. Both of us had wanted to have this meal when we were in Chandigarh a few months ago. I had a bite and found it yummy. While the serving looked small it was quite filling.
I had the Tunday Kebabs for dinner at home. Yes, they melted in my mouth but I found them a tad too salty. This dish could be a killer on a taste test on Masterchef India. It would be difficult to name all the 165 spices in it. I shared a few kebabs with a friend. He remarked that each piece tasted different from the other. Looks like the spices were not blended in very well.