JUNE 2001- Contents
Travel & Adventure
the-south-asian.com June 2001
Page 2 of 2
- LUCKNOW'S CULINARY LEGACY (cntd)
At the newer shop in the city, Baqr's nephew, Izhar sits a few steps down in the basement and clarifies at once that the two outlets are the same but the Chowk one is the original. Abu Baqr proudly tells all tourists that the shop is over a century old and the success of the deceptively simple fare of paranthas and kebabs is the laborious process of mincing the meat and the special home made spices.
Over 110 ingredients go into making the unique flavour - the prominent ones being cardamoms, mace, cumin, saffron, paprika and scores of other ingredients including medicinal herbs. Ingredients like coriander are added fresh whereas some are ground and roasted.
"The jealously guarded formula is known to only three people in the family", says Wasim, a close relation who has a shoe business diagonally opposite the old shop. The three owners are the only people who know the recipe.
The masala is selected, ground, seasoned and put in jars to last at least two months and than fresh spices are prepared, "Those who are in the know of good Mughal cuisine - especially kebabs, know what delight they are tasting once they pop them in their mouths", says Wasim.
The family employs a 25-30 strong staff and has recently built Haji Manzil a two-storey house just behind the original Kebab shop to serve as the residential quarters of the staff. It overlooks the old mosque, which is a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India. Thus history, cuisine, commerce and an understated joi-de-vivre enhanced by the boisterous laughter of college boys whose hostel is in the masjid premises.
Shabana Azmi, Shahrukh Khan and Anupam Kher and a bevy of political and film world celebrities have made it a point to come to the old kebab shop whenever they are in town.
"Even Bal Thackeray, for all his fire and brimstone, has a soft corner for Tunday Kababi," says Wasim with a mischievous glint in his eye. The white Ambassador cars with lights flashing at the top also park themselves for a minute as kebabs and paranthas are packed for the babus and mantrijis.
It is said that the Tunday Kababi has also an avid fan in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who is the local MP of the city. "But he has never actually visited our outlet," bemoans Abu Bakr.
All queries on the volume or the business generated are met by a dismissive, - "People come here for exciting their taste buds at a small price- not for a sit-down expensive meal."
A constant stream of buyers, who barely get off their motorcycles, scooters or cars, buy the kebabs straight off the griddle. And at Rs 3 a kebab and Rs 2 a parantha it is a steal. The kebabs come in mutton and beef varieties. Vegetarian kebabs are made on special orders.
The kebabs have travelled far and wide. Whether it is the local Lucknow Mahotsav, the annual Agra Mahotsav in February or the Singapore Food Festival - they have gone international. The sprawling Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan in Delhi specially invited the owners who have now put up a permanent stall there.
The biryani (Rice pulao) in huge copper and aluminum vessels is the other item on offer along with chicken roasting on the grill. The Kebabs are made fresh all day.
The flavoured masala is the essential ingredient for all the items, yet it is the parantha-kebab combo that has the maximum fan following for the commoners, college students, office goers, glitterati, film stars and a veritable who's who of the political and celebrity circuit.
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