Head to Raheem for kebabs, nalli nihari and kulcha. Photos: Shirin Mehrotra
There’s a sense of fursat that comes with being in Lucknow. People love to spend time leisurely here and food is a big part of it. The best way to experience Lucknow’s food culture is to get into the bylanes of the city and eat where the locals go. Head to Aminabad and Chowk in the morning for jalebi, samosa and khasta; grab a lunch of kachoris; spend the evening exploring the chaat nooks and wrap up the night with kebabs and biryanis. Here’s an ultimate guide to eating out in Lucknow.
BREAKFAST & LUNCH
Netram Ajay Kumar, Aminabad
The more-than-100-year-old shop in the heart of Aminabad starts making jalebis early in the morning, much like other shops in the city. What makes the jalebis here stand out is that they are made in pure ghee. Follow them up with the khasta – flaky, stuffed with urad dal and served with spicy potatoes and pasty white peas. Netram’s also the place to grab a meal of kachori – puris stuffed with dal with potato curry, pumpkin subzi, bottle gourd raita and soonth chutney. Jalebis give way to Imarti in the evening – plump, crisp and soaked in sugar syrup.
Durga Khasta Corner, Latoush Road
Early morning or during lunch, people flock at this small shop to get their fill of khasta and dal bada. The deep-fried, crisp khastas are served with spicy potatoes and pasty white peas, topped with onions and green chilli.
Sharma Tea Stall, Hazratganj
If Mumbai has its vada pav and samosa pav, Lucknow has got bun-makkhan with samosas. The samosas at Sharma’s are round with flavour-packed potato filling, and can be eaten sandwiched between soft bun slathered with white butter. The strong, cardamom flavoured chai is another attraction here.
Samosa Stall, Chowk
In the bylanes of Chowk just before Ramasrey, you’ll find a shop manned by two adorable old men. The duo practically challenges you to stop at just one samosa, which is available in the evening. In the morning, head here for kachori-subzi and jalebis.
KEBABS, CURRIES & BIRYANIS
Tunday Kebabi, Akbari Gate
The legendary kebab-maker needs no introduction and people have been travelling to Lucknow with the sole purpose of eating his kebabs. While there are multiple outlets in the city now, the regulars swear by the Akbari Gate one, which makes buff galouti kebabs. Eat them with crisp parathas, and you wouldn’t regret!
The old city dwellers often come here for a breakfast of nalli nihari and kulcha. The nihari and stew is rustic with subtle flavours and perfectly cooked meat. The place is stacked with variety of buff kebabs in the evening.
This popular biryani corner hasn’t changed much over the years. The set-up is still dhaba-like, and you’ll find it crowded in the evenings. The biryani here is subtly flavoured with chunky pieces of mutton.
While the tourists flock at Tunday and Idris, the experienced eaters in Lucknow head to Alamgir. The biryani here is one of the best along with kebabs, mutton stew and kheema.
Khasta at Durga Khasta Corner (left) & papdi chaat from Shree Kalika.
Shree Kalika Chaat House, Aminabad
Located in the corner of Naaz Cinema Chauraha in Aminabad, this is one of the smallest and oldest chaat shop in the city. The shop is manned by Naresh Gupta, who is the fourth generation owner. Almost everything is a must try here especially their papdi chaat with sweet and tangy chutney, mashed potato and white peas. The tiny batashas, are crisp and you’ll just love that tangy, spicy water. Also try the matar ki tikki, which is mashed white pea fried like a tikki and garnished with lime juice, coriander and ginger. If you’re lucky, you’ll get gulab jamuns too; don’t leave without eating them.
Pt. Ramnarayan Tiwari Chaatwala, Ganeshganj
Another old shop, which is now divided into two brothers; you must go to the one on your right when facing the shops. Start with pani ke batashe (UP's version of paani puri, gol gappe and phuchkas); they have pani in four flavours and the asafoetida one is the best. Move on to their palaki – palak patta chaat where palak is coated in thin besan batter, deep fried and topped with dahi-chutney. Wrap it up with dahi bada, which has a thick, sweetish dahi and the softest badas in Lucknow.
Pandit Chaat Corner, Naka Charbagh
This 40-year-old, unassuming shop serves chaat that’s more rustic. The aloo tikki, unlike any other place, is mashed on the tawa and layered with dahi, chutney and papdi. Try their pani ke batashe too.
Jain Chaat, Lalbagh Chowk
This shop is usually packed in the evenings and is wiped clean by 9 pm. Their aloo tikki and dahi wada are stuff dreams are made of.
What to bring back
Head to Ramasrey in Chowk for the famous malai gialuri – thin sheet of malai folded like paan and stuffed with a sweet filling. The milk pedas are good too, and in season you’ll get kali gajar ka halwa here. Don’t leave without getting the kaju dalmoth packed for home.
Lucknow is famous for its bakery products as much as for the kebabs and chaat.JJ Bakery in Hazratganj makes one of the best muffins – soft and fluffy; get their red velvet cake too. Burma Bakery, also in Hazratganj, is know for its butter biscuits and cake rusks.
There are cycle rickshaws, shared autos and battery-operated rickshaws that charge you as per distance.
Lucknow is well connected to all the major cities by trains and airway. Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport is located in Amausi, 13.5 kms from Aminabad. Charbagh Railway Station is in the heart of the city.
The author is a freelance food and travel writer and shares her stories on Foodchants. She is on a perpetual quest to learn about the history of regional food.