Culinary Journey To India
For centuries, people from all over the world have been drawn to India for its spices and spirituality. India, a land of spiritualism has also deftly mastered the art of preparing food for the soul and body. The sheer diversity of cuisines has transformed this magnificent country into a sensory haven for food lovers. Even though the Indian spices are the essence of Indian dishes, there is another element, which plays a vital role in making Indian cuisines popular worldwide.
It is the love and the care with which every dish is prepared and the joy of seeing someone truly savor every bite is what makes Indian food so special. Warm hospitality and the spirit of serving others is what truly make Indian food so divine and delicious. Embark on a beautiful culinary tour where you not only get to learn on how to prepare authentic Indian delicacies but also discover the passion with which each and every dish is prepared and served.
Different styles of cooking
The cuisines of India are as diverse as the country and the style of preparation is also quite unique for each of them. While in the northern part of the country especially regions in and around Lucknow and Delhi, Mughlai and Awadhi cuisines are popular, in the southern part of the country, primarily South Indian cuisine is popular. The cooking techniques used to prepare these cuisines are immensely different and distinctive.
Mughlai is a style of cooking that originated in the kitchens of the Mughal Empire and the cuisine is known for its distinctive aroma and flavors of whole spices. Ideally, the base for most of the Mughlai dishes are butter based curries and flavored sauces. Awadhi cuisine belongs to Lucknow and the manner of cooking is quite similar to what is found in the Middle East, Central Asia and Northern India.
It is known for its distinctive style of cooking called the dum style of cooking, where the food is cooked over a slow fire. Rich ingredients such as cottage cheese, mutton, chicken and spices such as cardamom and saffron are used immensely in Awadhi cuisine. The style of cooking followed in southern India is completely in contrast to North Indian style of preparing food.
For one, south Indian menu is primarily rice based and steaming is used to prepare dosas and idlis. A combination of lentils and legumes are blended with spices to create different kinds of sauces and curries.
Day 01: Arrive Lucknow
You arrive at Lucknow where you tour escort will welcome you and transfer you to your hotel. After a sumptuous lunch, embark on a tour of this royal city. Lucknow or often referred to as the ‘City of Nawabs’ is a heritage city that enamors with its age-old British Raj buildings, palaces, forts and architecturally rich mausoleums. The city was home to the Nawabs of Avadh, who managed a considerable part of northern central region after the decline of the Mughal Empire.
Awadhi cuisine is the main cuisine in this part of Northern India. It belongs to Lucknow and the style of cooking is similar to the Middle East, Central Asia and Northern India. Awadhi cuisine doesn’t rely on too many spices but rather uses a blend of few exotic spices. The food is cooked on slow fire so that the solids absorb the juices completely thereby ensuring the nutrients of the food are not lost. Some of the popular Awadhi dishes include Awadhi Chicken Dum Biryani, Chicken Korma, Dum Pukht Galouti Kebab, Mutton Korma, Shami Kebab. On your tour, drive past Sadat Ali Tomb known for its large hemispherical dome followed by Chatar Manzil, famous for its architecture. Due to restricted entry, the monument would have to be admired from outside. Take a tour of Asafi Imambara or also known as Bara Imambara, which is one of the grandest buildings in Lucknow. It features the world’s biggest hall that is devoid of any pillar support, iron beams, wood or concrete walls. Alongside, visit the Turkish Gate or the Asfi Mosque as well. Next, be prepared to board a horse driven carriage or locally called tonga for a charming ride through this bustling city. The tonga will drop you at the Husainabad Complex – The Clock Tower, which is the highest clock tower in Asia and also in some ways superior to its counterpart – Big Ben. Proceed further to get mesmerized by the architectural beauty and grandeur of Husainabad Imambara, Built in 1840, this monument is famous for its sandalwood décor, silver seat and beautiful calligraphy on the walls.Return to the hotel to get refreshed and ready to participate in an interactive session on Awadhi cuisine in the evening.
In the orientation session, delve into the secrets of what makes Awadhi cuisine so irresistibly tempting and delicious. Find out if it is the concoction of aromatic spices or the dry fruits that add a distinctive taste to any vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish. Gather more about the Mughlai style of cuisine, which is influenced by Persian culture and has mesmerized food lovers all around the world with its delectable delicacies.
Discussion on such amazing cuisines is sure to whet your appetite, so get prepared to savor an assortment of Awadhi starters with your evening drinks, while an expert shares with you the intricacies of Awadhi and Mughlai dishes.
Later in the evening, enjoy a spread of traditional Awadhi dishes at the hotel’s specialty restaurant, Oudhyana. Savor the aroma and the flavors of Awadhi dishes and also receive an insight from a curator into how each of the dishes has been prepared and what makes them different from Mughlai and Hyderabadi.After all that wonderful food, it is time for you to hit the bed. Enjoy a peaceful overnight stay at the hotel. Overnight at our hotel.
Day 02: Lucknow
Day 2 is about getting further acquainted with the city and also exploring its culinary heritage. You also get to visit the residence of the Nawab to feast on an exclusive Awadhi lunch. But first: Your day starts with a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel followed by a visit to the famous La Martiniere School to appreciate its architectural marvel. Even today, the designer of this palatial home, the Frenchman Major-General Claude Martin is a respected personality in Lucknow. Next stop is the beautiful Dilkusha Palace and Gardens. A European architect designed the palace for Nawab Sadat Ali Khan and it is believed that when the Nawab saw the palace and grounds when completed, he rejoiced and exclaimed, ‘Dil Khush Hua’ implying ‘My heart is pleased’. So let your heart be pleased at the magnificent sight of the palace and the expansive gardens. After the beautiful sight of the gardens, it is now time to face the bitter imprints of history at Lucknow Residency. This is the spot where the walls bear witness to the gruesome killing of 3000 people during the 1857 mutiny.
The British could not defend their domain and the buildings were lost to the high-spirited Indians who fought till their last breath. The trees, bullet sprinkled walls and unusable canons cry aloud with the burden of deaths that took place here and the only way to dim the ugliness of the place is to visit the graveyards to pay homage to all the precious lives lost. Don’t let your spirits get you down, for next in line is a grand lunch with the Nawab of Awadh. However, before meeting the Nawab, there is an orientation program to get you acquainted on how to meet and greet the Nawabs of Awadh. Discover what it’s like to be treated as royalty at the residence of the Nawab. At the Nawab’s decked up family museum, enjoy cold sherbet, a soft beverage followed by an amazing hands-on experience of cooking one or two Awadhi dishes under expert supervision. Discover the fascinating custom of serving the exquisite dishes not on the dining table but on the floor. Yes, you heard it right; learn the art of serving Awadhi cuisine on a floor level setting called Dastarkhwan. Finally, end your royal lunch with a ‘Pan’ a betel leaf preparation.
Board the coach to head back to the hotel to get refreshed before leaving for an exciting culinary walk at 1900hrs. Everything else may change in Lucknow but the love for the food remains constant. The exquisite flavors of Awadhi cuisine have withstood not only the test of time but also the changing preferences of people. In days of instant food, Lucknow still manages to retain its rich culinary heritage. Be prepared to be swept away by the exotic aromas and flavors that will greet you in the alleys of Lucknow. Walk down the lane adjacent to Akabri Gate to sample some of the most authentic and delicious succulent meat dishes. Tantalize your taste buds with Tundey Kebabs, Raheem’s Nihari and Bomeen’s Pasanda Kebabs. While you relish the aromatic flavors of these delectable delights, there will be a culinary curator explaining the history and the recipe behind each of these dishes. Finally, head back to the hotel for an overnight stay after the overwhelming experience of Lucknow’s culinary tour.
Day 03: Lucknow
Savor each and every moment spent on your last day of this ‘City of Nawabs’. Feast your senses on heritage sites, colorful markets and off course the superb Awadhi delicacies. On the morning of day 3, relish a scrumptious breakfast prepared by the hotel chef followed by another vibrant tour of the city. The Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens also known as The Banarsi Bagh is sure to enthrall you with its sheer size and diversity. Next, catch a glimpse into Lucknow’s past at the State Museum that exhibits a collection of artifacts from early and medieval ages to contemporary British Raj era. Be prepared to what awaits you next, the colorful and vibrant Dhobi Ghat where you get to see rows of washed Chikan Embroidered clothes hanging. Encounter a unique experience, as you visit the Chikan workshop and find the artisans embroidering beautiful garments. If these gorgeous garments catch you fancy, you can even buy few of them right there and then. Post visiting Chikan workshop, get ready to feast on an authentic lunch of a typical vegetarian Rastogi Meal. Rastogis are the business class Hindus specializing in Chikan Embroidered Garments.
Once they open their shop, they usually have a brunch of khasta, poori and lassi. Khasta is crispy fried hollow bread while the deep fried variety is called poori. Lassi is sweet yoghurt whipped and topped with saffron flavored cream served in earthen cups. If these dishes pique your curiosity on how they are made, you’ll soon find out with a short cooking session on how to make one of these exotic dishes before you start your lunch. After a delicious lunch, visit ‘Chowk’, the oldest market place of Lucknow to shop for souvenirs and unique gifts to take back home. You will come across some of the best handicrafts in the by-lane of Chowk called ‘Gol Darwaza’. This crowded and bustling marketplace is sure to capture your attention with its colorful and vibrant atmosphere. If you want to discover more about this place that possess an air of exuberance, you can even participate in a Heritage Walk where you get to stroll through the meandering lanes of age-old bazaar. After all the hectic sightseeing, shopping and feasting on sumptuous delights, it is time to head back to the hotel to relax and get ready for a grand evening.
Experience a royal culmination to your culinary tour in Lucknow with a visit to Khajoorgaon Palace for a cooking session with the members of the Royal Family. Learn the intricacies of preparing Awadhi dishes and later relish a delicious home cooed Awadhi meal. As part of the workshop, you will be divided into small groups and each group will be assigned a workstation. There will be an expert to guide on each of the workstations who will assist you with preparing a signature dish. This implies that you will actually be cooking your own dinner, as one particular dish is going to be prepared at every workstation. The anticipation of preparing an authentic Awadhi dish and later getting together with the rest of the group and gorging on your prepared dishes is truly an exciting experience. Prepared in the Royal Kitchen of Khajoorgaon, you get to enjoy a truly royal dinner accompanied by classical Kathak dance performance. Kathak is the court dance from Awadh and is known to be one of the most graceful dance forms.After a memorable evening spent enjoying drinks, great food and awesome dance performance, head back to the hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 04: Fly to Delhi
On day 04 of your tour, enjoy your breakfast and then be transferred to the airport to board a flight for Delhi. You also have the option of taking an evening flight to Delhi, in case you are interested in experiencing a typical village lifestyle along with the kind of foods that are prepared. This unique experience is all about discovering a traditional way of life that is still dominant in the villages. Even now, there are villages where food is cooked in a traditional manner that tastes completely different from what is cooked in the cities using modern means of cooking. Alternately, you can choose to take a flight to Delhi where our tour escort will be waiting for you to transfer you to the hotel.
Day 05: Delhi
Delhi, the capital of the country is a bustling metropolis teeming with enchanting ancient onuments, magnificent museums and some of the yummiest places to eat. Mughlai cuisine was developed in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperor and it is influenced by Persian cuisine. The factor that differentiates Mughlai cuisine from Awadhi is the richness and the extensive use of spices, nuts and dried fruits. Lots of milk and cream along with spices are added to make the taste spicy and rich and hence the Mughlai recipes are rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Another difference is that Awadhi Kebabs are prepared on the tawa while Mughlai Kebabs are grilled in a tandoor. Some of the popular Mughlai dishes include nehaari, haleem, Mughlai chicken, Meat Durbari, Murg Musallam, Murg Tandoor, Boti Kebab, Shahi Kaju Aloo and Rezala. Chandni Chowk is one of the places to enjoy Mughlai delights. Start your day with a delightful breakfast at the hotel followed by a visit to the enigmatic city of Old Delhi where you pass by the Red Fort, an elegant red sandstone monument followed by a rickshaw ride through the meandering and narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk.
Situated in Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk was founded along with Red Fort under the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in 1650. It was designed by Jahanara, the Emperor’s favorite daughter. The Parathe Wali Gali in Chandi Chowk is particularly famous for selling all kinds of delectable parathas. This place is known for its intoxicating and heady flavors and aromas wafting through the shops preparing all kinds of delicacies. The aromas are bound to whet your appetite and therefore your next spot is the famous Karim’s Restaurant, where you can gorge on a delectable array of kebabs and curries. Next visit Old Delhi’s spice market to take your pick from some of the choicest Indian spices. Later in the afternoon, head to the famous Indian Restaurant ‘Chor Bazaar’, they even have a branch in London to enjoy a truly sumptuous lunch.
Day 06: Delhi
On your last day of your culinary tour, visit some of the most magnificent monuments in Delhi that includes Qutab Minar, the Tomb of Humayun, India Gate and the Parliament House. Come noon and a lavish lunch await you at one of the most famous restaurants in Delhi, ‘The Bukhara’ at Hotel Maurya Sheraton. This award winning restaurant brings alive the romance of the rugged North West Frontier cuisine with its authentic tandoor cooked kebabs, vegetables and breads. After a succulent meal of kebabs, head back to the hotel to get some rest and in the evening take part in a talk on Indian cuisines and spices.
Day 07: Final Departure
Final departure transfer to airport to board your flight for home.