The moveable feast : Nourished Nawabs, countless Kebabs, Calming Curries
Time was when people like me were called ‘Kebabi Sharabis’. We would have worked for the Mughal courts or the courts of Oudh and have a passion for kebabs and a fondness for drink.
For me the kebab lust has returned since they opened Kakori at The Soaltee Crowne Plaza almost a year ago (Happy Anniversary!). Kakori is named after a kebab made near Lucknow
in what was a state called Oudh where people like Wajid Ali Shah, a ruler, created Awadi Raan or lamb leg marinated with an Indian bouquet garni, ginger, garlic, yoghurt and then cooked gently on a heavy flat dish.
The Awadi Raan is available at Kakori and Surya Adhikari, the restaurant manager who never forgets a face or a guest’s favorite, automatically brings the Raan on. It is paradise.
And it was Wajid Ali Shah who is credited with the creation of the Murgh Bahar which is chicken marinated in cardamom and saffron and cooked in an onion gravy in an 18th century styled dish. The flavours are fulsome.
Kakori, the restaurant, was created largely by Sharad Upadhaya the food and beverage director and who according to Surya gave the restaurant maximum time and thought which is what makes it so successful.
You have the mildly spiced Kakori Seekh Kebab famous in a town near Lucknow. It is cooked over an open fire and you are advised to use fat in it. If like me you have a ‘fat tooth’ you will love both the Kakori and Galavati, the only problem being the Galavati melts on touch (which is what Galavati means) and getting it to your mouth
is a balancing act which once achieved is never forgotten as the special masalas like the vetivier and the smoked cloves linger long after the meal.
Newly arrived Executive Chef Srivastava is working on an expanded menu with rare dishes from vanished Oudh, “Our guests will love them”.
For vegetarians you have a brilliant Hariyali Kebab which are peas infused with spices and cooked on a open fire.
Amongst 12 vegetarian main courses is Dunar Ki Palak Kadhi which combines chick peas, spinach and yoghurt which is refreshing and original and has a robust fenugreek, green peas and cream mixture that all Lucknowis’ love.
Or ask Liviendra, who serves you, to bring on the Chandni Kebab which is cottage cheese and soothing spices with one high note of caraway seeds or ajwain.
Which is when Surya brings on the Yakhni Dum Pulao, a distant relation to the Mughlai Pulaos because it is milder more aromatic and once eaten it’s addictive. You can last for about four days without Yakhni then you hurl yourself at the tender mercies of all the wonderful people at Kakori.
If you are lucky you meet Ms Maharjan who unfolds stories as you eat and tells you that breakfast in Oudh and now in Lucknow are leisurely affairs where you dip sour-dough bread ‘Kulchas’ in a Nahari meat curry which is a slowly simmered shank stew and probably one of my favorite curries. It is as light as a wish and has a taste you chase after.
Surya offers you a kulfi, the Indian ice-cream or a small royal Shahi Tukda which is a many flavoured piece of bread and if like me you are a true Kebabi Sharabi you will say “If I had
even a small space I would have eaten another kebab” and then you would tell Chef Dinesh Lama that once again he had surpassed himself. It is a Nawabi thing to do. Call 4273999.