Best things to eat in Lucknow during winter, Daawat- e-Sardi

  • This article is all about the winter favourites of Lucknow, written by a Lakhnavi, what to eat and where.

Lucknow, the fabled city of aesthetes and connoisseurs, is synonymous with Nawabs and Kebabs - its famed rulers and the legendary cuisine that developed during their reign. The Dastarkhwan (dining spread) of Lucknow is predominantly non-vegetarian but it has delectable vegetarian offerings too.  The city has a thriving street-food culture with Halwais (sweet makers), Chaatwallahs (savoury -snack makers), Thelewallahs, Khumchewallahs and Pheriwalas (types of street vendors) selling perennial as well as seasonal delights in every bazaar and mohalla (neighbourhood). As autumn turns into winter, the culinary scene also changes.  

Some winter favourites (vegetarian) of Lakhnavis are: 

Nimish/Makhan Malai

This cream pudding that seems like clouds and air blended together is called Daulat ki Chaat in Delhi, Malaiyo in Benaras, Makkhan Malai in Kanpur and Nimish in Lucknow. The Lakhnavis believe that their Nimish is the best because it has the Nafasat (refinement) that they are known for. The secret ingredient of Nimish is believed to be the winter dew. One can try it at the Gol Darwaza, Chowk. It is advisable to have it fresh as it melts if stored for long.

Makhan Malai or Nimish.

Kali Gaajar ka Halwa 

Gaajar (Carrot) Halwa is a winter-special dessert prepared throughout North India but Lucknow (in fact the entire Awadh region) is known for a peculiar variety of purplish-black carrot used to make Kali Gajar ka Halwa. The black carrot is a bit tart in taste, different from the sweet Red carrot. The Halwa made from Kali Gajar is more nutritious and boosts immunity to fight cold. Radhe Lal sweets at Gol Darwaza, Chowk and Ram Asrey, Hazratganj are two places to try this unique Awadhi Delight.

Home-made Kali Gajar ka Halwa. 

Kashmiri Noon Chai

This Kashmiri sweet-salty Chai is bubble gum pink in colour that’s why it is also called Gulaabi Chai. The process to prepare this tea is quite elaborate and requires special equipment like the Kashmiri Samovar (copper kettle). The shop that popularized this tea in Lucknow is at the Abdul Aziz Road, Akbari Gate, Chowk. It is best enjoyed with Khari (a husky biscuit), Sheermal (saffron-flavoured bread that contains egg) and Baalaai (thick cream).   

Gajak, Revadi, seasonal Pattis and Ladoos

Gajak is made from sesame and jaggery. It is quite similar to the Lonavla style Chikki but much softer. Revadi is Gajak’s nutty and sticky version, made in smaller flattened pieces. Ramdana or Chaulai (Amaranth) and Laiyya (puffed rice) are used to make thick round discs called Patti and also Laddoos.  Gud or jaggery is an important ingredient in all these preparations because it is made fresh in the neighbouring villages, at this time of the year. It is also used as a sweetener in the tea instead of sugar as its Taseer (efficacy) is warm. It helps one fight cold. These goodies are mostly sold by hyper-local roving vendors, the Pheriwallahs.

Laiyya aur puffed-rice Laddoos.

Fresh Gud or Jaggery being prepared. 

Jouzi Halwa

The Jouzi Halwa is made from sprouted wheat and Khoya (dried whole milk). It has a nutty flavour. This halwa is served during winters because, just like the Nimish, the winter dew is considered a secret ingredient in it. It is believed that wheat sprouts best under a winter night sky. It is available with most Halwais of old Lucknow.  

Lucknow Chaat

Lucknow’s Chaat is available perennially but it tastes more delicious in winters! Especially, the hot and spicy Paani Batasha (Golgappa or Paani Puri), Aloo Tikki (Potato cutlets) and Matar ki Chaat (Boiled brown peas). Shukla Chat House and King of Chaat in Hazratganj and in Dixit Chaat House, Chowk are small authentic places to try Chaat. 

Shukla Chat House. 

Boiled Singhada (Water chestnut), Bhuni Moongphali (Roasted Peanuts with shells) and Shakarkand Chaat (Diced and spiced roasted sweet potato) are some other street delights, relished in the North Indian winter. They are widely available throughout Lucknow.

Shakarkhand Chaat

Bhuni Moongphali 

The home kitchens of Lucknow also reflect the seasonal change. Special foods like Matar ki Tehri (Pea and potato yellow rice), Palak ki Roti (Spinach Roti), Shakarkand ki Kheer (Sweet Potato Pudding) are served in the main meals and Choora Matar (Fried Chivda and Tempered Green Peas) are served with the evening tea. Every kitchen adds its own twist to these traditional recipes but the results are always delicious. 

Choora Matar.  

Whether you are a resident Lakhnavi, an old Lakhnavi visiting home or a tourist planning a trip to the city of Nawabs, your winter stay will be incomplete without wandering in the old gullys and bazaars of Nakhlau (colloquial name of the city) and tasting these vegetarian snacks and desserts. After all ‘Eat local and seasonal’ is the new mantra. 

Green tip

Please don’t forget to ALWAYS carry small steel boxes and spoons in your travel bag. They can be useful if a vendor is using plastic or silver foil disposables. It can also come in handy if you feel like packing something as take-away. Please help Lucknow beat plastic pollution. Dhanyavad / Shukriya! 

Author is from Lucknow. She is a Jewellery Designer, runs and lots more.

All pictures are courtesy and copyright author.

Also read

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2. Best places to eat in Amritsar

3. Best places to eat in Guwahati

4. There is more to Bihari food than Litti Chowka

5. Indore is a great place for street food 

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