Deepotsav, Rediscovering Ayodhya, Chapter 1, Original Awadhi cuisine
Lucky to be born and brought up in Awadh shetra, the ancient kingdom of Awadh or Kosal in Eastern Uttar Pradesh now, I am happy to share snapshots of its epicenter, the city of Ayodhya.
Lucknow the city of Nawabs, Laxmanpuri the city governed by Laxman
I live in its neighbouring city, Lucknow. Its older name being Laxmanpuri, as it was managed by Ram’s younger brother Laxman. ‘Laxman’ in Sanskrit means that the mind is focussed on its goal. It also means total alertness in the present moment.
Lucknow, the Ayodhya Connection: Awadhi cuisine
Lucknow has been a part of Awadh from the time of Ram about 7000 years ago.
The term Awadhi cuisine, was originally cuisine from Eastern UP, vegetarian, Vaishnav temple cuisine. During the reign of Nawabs in Lucknow, who came from Iran (Persia), the food changed from a locally grown Ayurvedic diet to what the new rulers brought in to get a taste of home food from the land and culture they had left behind.
For an army on the move, a diet based on animals, long-shelf life rations such as onions, garlic, ginger, potatoes, beetroots, dry spices, dried pomegranate, nuts, dried fruit, grains and pulses became a staple.
Though, Irani cuisine includes lots of fresh ingredients, it was simplified for the travelling armies and noblemen on the basis of fresh locally available ingredients in Awadh and dry rations they could buy from traders from the North West. Many improvisations to the original Irani cuisine happened here as new ingredients were available in Ayodhya and Lucknow.
For example, the Nawabi Awadhi cuisine used unripe papaya to soften the animal flesh to make kebabs.
From Ayodhya to Lucknow, the Nawabi kitchen caravan on the move…
Though the Nawab’s capital was at Ayodhya’s outskirts in Faizabad in the early years, they moved to Lucknow on the wishes of Nawab Asif Ud Daula, but the name given to the special food created in their kitchens remained Awadhi food. It is very different from the original Awadhi food, which is still alive in temples and homes of Eastern UP.
Interestingly, what is common in Vaishnav temple cuisine and Korean temple cuisine is no inclusion of animal flesh, alcohol, onion, garlic. Temple cuisine is an offering of gratitude to the Divine. It is called Bhog in Ayodhya. When we eat that food, it is accepted as a blessing or prasad that nourishes the body, mind and soul.
Ayodhya and Korea: The Food Connection
Why do i speak of Korea and Ayodhya in the same breath, you wonder? Well, there is a close bond. In fact there are more than three close bonds! Will bring them up later:) in detail.
Bhoomika, my friend and colleague from Lucknow is currently teaching Yoga in Busan city, South Korea. Yoga is another connection from the Buddhist era between Korea and us.
Ayodhya in district Faizabad has many names: Awadh, Kosal, Saket… Let us discover it bit by bit. Happy Deepotsav:) May the light of wisdom and love be with us, always. Jai Sri Ram.
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