Uttar Pradesh | Recipes | Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

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Some of the most fantastic and mouth-watering dishes, ranging from the simple everyday food to the rich and elaborate banquets is what the food of Uttar Pradesh consists of. The state is divided into three regions, so is the food which becomes different in each city of a particular region, making it a Mecca for any food lover. The varieties across the state present the vibrant food culture that prevails here which also play a significant role in an individual’s day-to-day life as well as the festivals are marked by these delicacies.

The people in Uttar Pradesh are fond of savoring different flavors of food. Every city embraces its own specialty and style of cooking. The Lucknow food is described as royal culinary delights which include both vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. Similarly, the people in Kanpur like eating simple food like lentils, cereals, and later on, jaggery (Gur) is eaten as the dose of digestive sweetener. Kanpur is also famous for its Kakori and Boti kebabs. Rampuri Rohu and Zamindoz; both items of fish are famous from Rampur region of the state. The place is also famous for the Rampuri Pasanda kebabs, Shab Deg and the vegetarian dish called Paneer Pasanda. Banarsi Paan is famous all over the world for its taste and ingredients. In the same league, Agra is also known for its petha – the famous sweet cookie.

The popular genre of cuisine found here are Mughlai and Awadhi. Nawabs ruling the region’s princely states during the Mughal Era introduced the rich Mughalai cooking techniques and today, the state is very much popular for its Nawabi foods. Awadhi Cuisine which has its origin in the city of Awadh (or Oudh), the modern day Lucknow, is a type of West Central Uttar Pradeshi cuisine. Awadhi cuisine bears similarities to those of Kashmir and Punjab.

One interesting thing to share is the cooks of Lucknow. In royal Awadhi kitchen, there existed different categories of cooks. The Nawabs of Oudh were great food lovers; they encouraged their master chefs to invent new styles of cooking. 'Dastarkhwan', the ceremonial tradition of laying food on the table was also introduced by these Nawabs. For each kind of the recipe expert chefs were assigned. The Bawarchis cook food in large quantities while the Rakabdars cook in small gourmet quantities. Rakabdars also specialise in the garnishing and presentation of dishes. The third category is Nanfus, they are specialists in making a variety of roti, chapattis, naans, sheermals, kulchas and taftans.

Dum Pukht is another unique feature of Awadhi Cuisine which is a remarkable way of cooking the food. The food is sealed in a large pan called handi, which is placed on slow heat that allows the ingredients to cook in their own juices. The final result is a total flavourful and aromatic dish.

Uttar Pradesh Culinary Delights

If you are in Uttar Pradesh, you can find classic and traditional foods in each and every corner of the streets and not to forget the street foods that are equally to die for! Some of the most popular and famous snacks from the region include samosas, dahi wadas, pakoras (fritters), aloo tikki, pani puri and kachoris with absolutely delicious chutneys and sauces as accompaniments and crispy jalebis as desserts. Anything from a Mughlai to an Awadhi dish with rustic flavours, the cuisine in this part of India is surely invigorating.

The food mainly includes meat, wheat and vegetables which are the primary source of protein and vitamins. Paneer is frequently added to dishes. Rich spices such as saffron and cardamom are widely used, which make the fare mouth watering.

Roti, puri, dal, rice varieties, sabzi, and meat dishes are foods that form the daily diet. A typical festive thali consists of Puri, Kachori, sabji, pulav, papad, raita, salad and desserts (such as sewai or kheer).

Rotis are of different types, including naan, paratha, kulcha, roomali and tandoori rotis. Rice varieties include plain steamed rice, pulav, and flavourful Biryanis.

Puri-Aloo and Kachori are among the most famous vegetarian dishes and considered necessary during festivities. Lazeez Lauki, Navratan Korma, Paneer Pasanda, Kadi chawal and Gobhi Mussallam are few traditional vegetarian preparations of the region.

Meat delicacies and Biryanis of the region are world famous. Murgh Mussallam, Nihari, Salan, Mutton Biryani, rich creamy kormas, dum biryanis, tender steak like pasandas in an almond sauce, Kundan Kaliya, Zamin Doz Macchli, and Nargisi kofta – every dish is special.

For fish lovers Zamin doz macchli is a must-have dish. A whole fish is marinated and stuffed with spices. It is then placed in earthenware and sealed with wheat dough. This is buried underground and cooked with charcoal fire directly above it for a few hours.

Murgh musallam is a dish made by marinating and cooking a whole chicken. This is often served with ghee rice. Salan is a gravy dish, made with meat or vegetable. Pasanda is a mild meat or vegetarian curry made with cream, yoghurt, and nuts.

If we are talking about Biryani, the specialty of the region can not be missed out. Lucknowi biryani made with mutton or chicken and cooked in the stock of meat is definitely a worthy treat for food lovers.

Awadhi food is incomplete without its various kebab preparations. Awadhi cuisine offers a distinct way of cooking kebabs, they are grilled on a chula and are also called "chula" kebabs. Kakori Kebab, Shami Kebab, Gulnaar Kebab, Galouti Kebab- they all are there to delight your taste buds.

Then there is a plethora of desserts to choose from like Sohan Halwa, Gulab Jamun, Kheer, Rabdi, Gujiya, Imrati, Kulfi and Sheer Kurma. The list is endless. The state is also famous for some sweet delicacies which are unique to the region. If you are on a trip to Uttar Pradesh never miss out the taste of Agra's Petha, Mathura's Peda, Shahi Tukda of Oudh region and Gazak and Rewari from Meerat.

The cuisine also presents some of the popular beverages like Lassi, Chhaas, Bhang, Ruh-Afza (rose water beverage), Gurahl (hibiscus) Sherbat, Lemon Sherbat, and Rose Sherbat.

And if you are in Banaras (Varanasi), you can find your choice of paan at every step of Varanasi and every paanvala will serve you the best traditional Banarasi Paan in traditional way - the pale dark green betel leaf smeared by the catechu and lime and stuffed with silver areca, tobacco (if preferred by individual), nuts, cardamom, camphor, mint, coconut and sweeteners for the taste.

So come and relish the taste of the cuisine offered in Uttar Pradesh.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.