Sharmaji ki chai, Bajpai ki kachori, Shukla Chaat, Royal Cafe, Ram Asrey, Prakash Kulfi and Tunday Kebab may be just names for an outsider, but all the above are mandatory visits when one is in Lucknow, as important as the iconic places such as Imambara, clock tower and Rumi Gate are.
Sharmaji’s kulhad chai, served piping hot is heavenly when eaten with bun Maska ( white butter) or samosa. For Bajpai’s Kachori, served with chana aloo and salad, there was a 50 metres long queue during lunch time, but luckily my wife was with me and ladies’ separate queue was slightly more manageable. Shukla chaat starts business at 4 PM and you are lucky to savour his delicacies if you make it to his nondescript place after 7 PM. Ram Asrey made us taste a full plate of Ras malai and gilauri ( sweet wrapped in a beetle leaf) but didn’t charge a penny, saying that tasting was free! Prakash Kulfi suggested that we should opt for half portion as the full would be difficult for two of us to finish! And Tunday Kebab advised that we could do some more shopping as our order would take at least 30 minutes to be executed!
And of course, Lucknow chikan work made my wife, her sisters and friends ( who were frequently taken on video calls) go berserk! Exquisite artistry, master craftsmanship and a variety that was simply mind boggling provided us with an experience that was unique! Ada, Nazrana, Nazakat were such household names amongst the chikan work lover surprised us as virtually everyone, for whom we shopped, seemed to be aware of the above iconic chikan shops, right in the heart of Lucknow in Hazratganj.
But the icing of the cake was our stay at Taj Mahal Lucknow. Their hospitality was unmatched, food delicious and Taj personal touch making us yearn for even a longer stay. The moment we mentioned of a Lucknawi delicacy – shami kabab, galouthi kabab, Zafarani biryani – they would serve us on the table ! Ultimately, we ended up lapping up all the food at Taj and yet couldn’t resist Lucknow street food, resulting in we over eating on each of the day of our stay there at! I am seriously thinking of some fasting after returning to Mumbai.
As our trip fast approaches it’s end, the very thought of leaving all this Lucknow’s hospitality, food and above all tehzeeb behind is making us go weak in the knees! And of course, my earlier blog of life changing experience of meeting Dr Ashok and his wife combined with this makes our this Lucknow visit very very special.
More of it in my next blog!