Lucknow - From Awadhi cuisine to a South Indian menu

If there is any cuisine that has given the erstwhile Avadhi food some serious competition and that too on home turf, it is the lip-smacking ensembles from down south.

But then the idli, dosa, vada, sambhar have been tantalising the Lucknowi palate for over 30 years now. Surprised? So was I when I set out to find out options in the city for those who love trying something simply southie.

Making masala dosa

Informs GK Nair, manager of Madras Cafe, the oldest South Indian joint in the city,"We started out in 1951 when Late KP Parmeshwar Nair who was the proprietor of Madras Cafe saw the demand for South Indian food and decided to set up shop here. Since then we have been catering to Lucknowites who are fond of traditional Keralite food. The thali we serve is also a big hit more so as it has the variety of authentic dishes from the backwaters of Kerala included in it."

And they have been more than happy in the business as cash registers keep ringing.

Quite a gastronomical revelation this - Lucknow, the center of Avadhi cuisine - tunde kababs, biryani, sheermal, etc, has competition from vegetarian South Indian cuisine!

Adds Madhava Bhat, Manager, Brindavan situated at Sapru Marg and a popular breakfast and lunch joint serving South Indian delicacies from Karnataka, "Brindavan was already a well known name in New Delhi but we were not sure if it would be a good idea to venture into the Lucknow market when the offer was made to us way back in 1988. But almost 20 years on we don't regret setting up a joint here. What is very encouraging is that North Indians do drop in regularly to savour our dishes but South Indian and even tourists visiting Lucknow having heard of our special preparations come to get a taste of Kanndiga grub."

Another eye opener was the fact that as per popular belief that apna UP ka bhaiya would only have a limited knowledge of what to order when it came to South Indian delicacies. But the notion would'nt be more off the mark.

As avers Suresh Kotian, Manager of Madras Mail a recently opened South Indian joint at a popular mall, "Food from the different states of South India have their own uniqueness and were surprised to find when we researched the market here that Lucknowites have a taste for more than just idlis and masala dosa."

"So we are offering specialities from Karnataka like uttapams with seven flavours - stuffings with a red chutney and vegetable juliennes; and also another special dish - Pessuriti dosa which is a unique upma made from green gram and garnished with chillies and onions. We will soon introduce more of such novel South Indian delights."

And would the big daddy of South Indian food, Dasaprakash, at Sagar International second the fondness of Lucknow-wallahs for such regional cuisine?

"Without doubt," says Kumud Kumar, of Dasaprakash, Lucknow,"I am so confident as I have seen the eagerness with which customers order the South Indian Thali as they want to savour as many dishes from the South Indian cuisine. The thali has rasam, sweets, papads, idli, upma, veggies and much more, and gives one a chance to try the taste of South in a single platter."

Quite a gastronomical revelation this - Lucknow, the center of Avadhi cuisine - tunde kababs, biryani, sheermal, etc, has competition from vegetarian South Indian cuisine!

Rice and lentil mix pancakes stuffed with spiced potatoes

[The Times of India]

Anjali Singh
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