JUNE 2001- Contents
Travel & Adventure
the-south-asian.com June 2001
Page 1 of 2
- LUCKNOW'S CULINARY LEGACY
For over a century, the succulent kebabs
of a decrepit but renowned shop in
The old city area is just off the main downtown shopping centre of Lucknow, barely a 20-minute leisurely walk. Here the life is almost as slow as the traffic - meandering as it is, with cycle rickshaws, scooters, an occasional car and teeming with pedestrians crowding sidewalks and roads. The shops spill out on the pavements selling merchandise as varied as plastic bottles, watches, jewellery, garments and iron hardware.
Despite near-chaos, there is an unhurried grace in the pace of life. It is typical of Lucknow. No wonder the eating habits of leisurely Nawabs of yore have an almost subliminal effect on the populace. With a culinary culture that spans centuries, the gastronomic efforts of 'Lucknowites' is one field where the laity is almost in consonance with the gentry.
Nestling between decaying old houses in the Chowk area, is one of the city's most famous landmarks---the Tunday Kababi shop. Featured in some of the most prestigious travel magazines of the world including The Lonely Planet and The New York Post, this quaint little eatery is run by the same family for over a hundred years with the same formula for making succulent kebabs.
For an eating joint whose fame has spread out wide, the shop has little pretence of self-importance about it. The cooking area is still on the road as it was a couple of centuries ago. And the aroma captivates the connoisseurs of kebabs as they scurry past.
The joint got its name when generations ago Mohammad Osman Haji started the enterprise with the special spices and ingredients that his ancestors had developed that were close to the gastronomic secrets of the kitchens of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah - the last of the kings, who was high on art, culture and music.
Haji was disabled and had only one arm. Tunday is an insensitive but general epithet given to one-armed people. However, in this case it became a term of endearment.
Down the generations Tunday Kababi has been a family run business, despite its size and branching out to a swankier establishment in the Aminabad area. The old shop that stands next to a mosque is still a must-see for tourists.
The present owner Mohammad Abu Baqr, is the son -in-law of the grand daughter of Mohammad Osman Haji. He sits at the old shop, tasting the day's fare and giving instructions to the bawarchi (cook) who dishes out deliciously crisp paranthas from a tandoor just next to the few tables that constitute the eating place.
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