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Awadhi Recipes

Experience authentic flavours from the city of Nawabs, at your home

The columnist shares the recipes for some of the legendary Awadhi dishes

Durri Bhalla | Published 07.06.22, 02:00 AM

Awadhi cuisine is an indigenous part of the city of Nawabs, Lucknow. The dishes and cooking style of this city is inspired and influenced by the Mughals. The cuisine includes both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes prepared with exotic spices, herbs and garnished with dry fruits. Biryani, kebabs and kormas are all legendary Awadhi dishes which are regarded as some of the best in India.

Galouti kebab

This mutton or chicken kebab literally melts in the mouth. The story goes like this. One of the nawabs had many teeth missing. So his main chef made this kebab which he did not have to chew but was extremely delicious. One just can’t stop eating this delicate delicacy.


• 900g mutton mince (Minced at least thrice to have a smooth texture)

• 1-inch piece ginger paste

• ¼ cup raw papaya paste (This helps in tenderising the meat.)

• ¼ cup flour of roasted gram flour (chana)

• 1tsp green chilli paste

• 1-2tsp red chilli powder

• 6tbsp fried onion paste

• ¼ cup roasted almond powder

• ¼ cup hung curd

• 2tbsp thick cream. (malai)

• 1tsp black pepper powder

• 2tsp coriander powder

• 1tsp cardamom powder

• ½tsp clove powder

• ½tsp black cardamom powder

• ½tsp cinnamon powder

• ¼tsp mace powder

• ½tsp lemon zest

• 1tsp saffron soaked in 2tbsp warm milk

• Ghee for shallow frying

#For the smoking (Dhungar)

• 1tbsp ghee

• 4 green cardamom, crushed


Mix all the ingredients except for the roasted gram flour. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Then add the gram flour. Mix well and keep in fridge for 10 minutes.

#For the smoking

Spread the mince in a large pan. Put a small katori (or a foil cup). Place a live coal in it. Then heat the ghee, add the cardamom and quickly pour over the hot coal. Cover the pan with a lid for 10 minutes.

Now divide the mince into equal balls. Make it little flat into ¾ inch patty. Shallow fry in ghee over low heat for about 3 minutes on each side or till they turn nice and brown.

Serve with lemon wedges, coriander mint chutney and vinegar onions.

Murg Musallam

A dish which has won hearts all over India and other countries abroad is Murg Musallam. ‘Murg’ means chicken and ‘Musallam’ means whole. It is usually stuffed with eggs, chicken mince and exotic ingredients like nuts and saffron. You can serve it on a bed of saffron rice with accompaniments like boiled eggs, potatoes, or you can serve as it is with paranthas, etc. The choice is yours.

This recipe has four parts to it. First is the brining, second is the marination, third is cooking of the chicken mince and stuffing, and lastly the gravy.

#For brining

Immerse the whole chicken in water with 3tbsp of salt for 40 minutes. Then remove and rinse 4-5 times very well.

#For the marination


• 2tbsp curd

• 1½tbsp ginger, garlic and green chilli paste

• 1tsp salt

• 1tsp red chilli powder

• ½tsp black pepper powder

• 1tsp chaat masala

• 1tsp garam masala powder

• 1tsp cumin powder

• 2tsp lemon juice

• 1tsp rose water

• 10 saffron stands


Make few gashes on both sides of the chicken. Mix all the above ingredients and rub it well all over the chicken as well as inside the cavity of the chicken. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

#For the chicken mince stuffing


• 1 boiled egg (you can boil more eggs for decoration)

• 150g chicken mince

• 2tbsp oil

• 1 onion finely chopped

• 1tbsp ginger, garlic green chilli paste

• ½tsp salt

• ½tsp red chilli powder

• ½tsp garam masala powder

• ½tsp cumin powder

• ½tsp coriander powder

• ¼tsp turmeric powder

• 1 tomato very finely chopped

• About 1tbsp coriander leaves


Heat oil and first lightly fry the boiled eggs and keep aside.

Now add the onions and fry till translucent.

Now add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste and saute for few seconds. Add chicken mince and saute for 2 minutes. Now add salt, red chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Saute for 1 minute.Then add tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes. Then add 4tbsp water and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes until the water evaporates and the chicken is cooked well. Remove from flame.

Add the boiled eggs and coat it with the chicken masala and keep aside. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Filling is ready.

#For frying the marinated chicken

Heat 2tbsp ghee in a large pan. Take the marinated chicken and fry on all sides till light brown. (You do not have to cook the chicken but just lightly fry so that the masalas are cooked). This will take about 5 minutes. The chicken will cook in the gravy later on.

#For stuffing the chicken

Fill the cavity of the chicken with mince and 1 boiled egg. If your chicken is big then you can even add 2 boiled eggs. But here I could only put one. Rest I can use for decoration.

Now tie the chicken legs with twine or cooking thread so that the stuffing does not come out. Keep aside.

#For the gravy


• Make paste of 10 almonds, 10 cashews, 1tbsp charoli (chironji), 4 green cardamoms, 1 mace and 4 cloves. It should be a smooth paste. Keep aside.

• ½ cup ghee

• 1 cinnamon stick

• 1tbsp ginger garlic paste

• 1tsp red chilli powder

• 1tsp garam masala powder

• 1tsp cumin powder

• 2 onions finely chopped

• 2 tomatoes pureed

• ½ cup yoghurt whisked

• 2tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

• 1tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped

• Few strands of saffron soaked in 1tbsp water

• 1tbsp rose water


Heat oil. Add cinnamon stick and onions. Fry till golden brown. Then add ginger garlic paste and saute well.

Now add red chilli powder, salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and the left over marinade of the chicken. Saute for 2 minutes.

Now add the tomatoes and saute till flecks of oil appears.

Now add the yoghurt and the shahi paste and saute till you see oil on the sides.

Add rose water and saffron. Now put the stuffed chicken in the gravy. Add 1 cup water. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken after 15 minutes.

In between open the lid and spoon the gravy on the chicken. The consistency of the gravy should be slightly thick, not runny.

#For the plating

You can put the whole chicken on a serving dish. Pour the gravy over it. Serve with paranthas.

Or place the chicken on a bed of saffron rice with decoration of halved boiled eggs and sprinkle with finely sliced nuts and raisins. The choice is yours.

Awadhi style Navratan Korma

Amongst Awadhi vegetable dishes, this is one of the most popular ones. An assortment of vegetables cooked in a thick luscious gravy, made from cream and cashews. An exotic party pleaser, you just can’t go wrong with it. It is called ‘navratan’ because it has vegetables in it.


• 2 cups vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, beans, bottle gourd, cluster beans, carrots, potatoes and peas). You can choose vegetables of your choice. Instead of cabbage you can use kundru.

• 1 onion finely chopped

• 1tsp garam masala powder

• 2tbsp ginger, garlic green chilli paste

• 2tbsp cashew paste. (First roast the cashews in ghee and then make a paste)

• ¼tsp turmeric powder

• ½tsp red chilli powder

• 2tbsp pineapple diced (optional)

• 1 cup cream

• 2tbsp tomato sauce

• 1tbsp curd

• 1 cup butter


Parboil all the vegetables. They should be A la dente (not mushy and soft).

Heat butter. Add onions and saute till translucent.

Add ginger, garlic, green chilli paste. Saute for few seconds.

Add turmeric, red chilli powder and garam masala. Saute for few seconds.

Add tomato sauce and curd. Mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Now add the vegetables, cashew paste, salt and ½ cup water. Let it cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.

Now add cream and make the flame low. Mix well. Cook for another 2 minutes.

When serving, garnish with coriander leaves and pineapple, diced small.

Shahi Stuffed Parwal

A lip smacking gift from the Awadhi kitchen. Potol stuffed with tempered chana (gram) dal and cooked in silky smooth tomato gravy prepared with an exciting masala, incorporating the rejuvenating properties of the shahi masala.

#For the shahi masala

• ½tsp green cardamom powder

• ¼tsp shahi jeera powder

• ¼tsp black cardamom powder

• ¼tsp bay leaf powder

• ¼tsp rose petal powder

• A pinch of clove powder

• A pinch of cinnamon powder

• A pinch of black pepper powder

• A pinch of mace powder

• Mix all the above ingredients

#For the potol


8-10 Potols/ parwal/ wax gourd

Cooking oil to deep fry potol

#For the filling


• ½ cup chana dal (little less than ½ cup). Soak in water for 3 hours and then drain

• ¼ cup grated cheese

• 1tsp green chilli paste

• ¼tsp turmeric powder

• 2tbsp ghee

• ½tsp cumin seeds

• 1tsp amchoor/mango powder

• ¼ cup onions chopped finely

• 1tsp black pepper powder

• 2tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped

• Salt to taste


First of all cut one end of the potol and core the length, leaving ¼ inch walls to form tubes.

Now heat oil and deep fry the potols over medium heat for 3 minutes. The potol will become limp but do not worry. Place on absorbent paper and keep aside while we cook the filling.

Melt ghee in a pan, add cumin seeds and when it pops, add onions and green chilli paste. Saute till onions turn glossy.

Add dal and turmeric and sauté / bhunno adding small quantities of water at regular intervals until the dal is cooked. (Dal should be dry and not mushy). Remove, cool and blend to a smooth paste.

Now add amchoor, black pepper, cheese and coriander leaves. Adjust salt.

Stuff the potols with this filling, compressing to ensure it is firmly packed.

#For the gravy


• 2tbsp ghee

• 1 cup onion paste

• 1tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

• ½tsp turmeric

• 1 cup fresh tomato puree

• 2tsp ginger paste

• 1tsp garlic paste

• ½ cup yoghurt

• 2tsp coriander powder

• 1tsp shahi masala

• 1 cup vegetable stock

• 1tsp rose water


Put yoghurt in a bowl and add coriander powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Whisk well.

Now heat ghee in a pan. Add onions and saute till translucent.

Now add ginger garlic paste and saute till moisture evaporates.

Remove pan from heat and then add the yoghurt mix. Return pan on fire and saute till oil specks appear.

Now add tomato puree and saute till oil specks appear.

Now add stock and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer stirring constantly until the stock is reduced to half.

Now add the stuffed potol and simmer, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes.

Add the shahi masala and cook till the gravy is slightly thick or according to your liking.

Add rose water. Keep covered for 5 minutes.

Best had with paranthas, butter naans.

Awadhi Dum Biryani

This mutton or chicken biryani is derived from the word ‘biryan’ and has its roots in Persia. This dish is known to have originated in India during the Mughal rule and has continued to rule our hearts till now. Breathe in the aroma of this princely mutton biryani cooked in the royal Awadhi style. Succulent, marinated mutton slow-cooked in various roasted spices in a handi to bring together a layered, aromatic and delicious biryani.

#For the garam masala


• 1 cinnamon stick

• 8-10 cloves

• 2tsp cumin seeds

• 1tsp fennel seeds

• 2tsp coriander seeds

• 1tsp black pepper corns

• 1 star anise

• 2 mace 1 black cardamom

• 5 green cardamom


Dry roast all the above spices and grind them to a smooth powder.

#For the mutton yakhni


• 1kg mutton pieces with bones

• 6tbsp ghee

• 200g onions sliced fine

• 4 level tbsp ginger garlic paste

• 200g curd whisked

• 2tsp coriander powder

• 1tsp cumin seeds

• 2tsp red chilli powder

• 1½tsp garam masala powder

• 1tsp turmeric powder

• 4 cups water

• 1tbsp mint chopped


In the yoghurt add coriander, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt and whisk well. Keep aside.

Now heat ghee in a handi and add cumin seeds over medium heat till it starts popping.

Now add onions and saute till light golden brown. Then add ginger garlic and saute till the onions become golden brown.

Now add the mutton and bhunno (saute) for 3 minutes.

Remove handi from the fire and add the yoghurt mixture. Place it back on fire and saute till specks of oil appear on the surface.

Now add water and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and let simmer till the meat is cooked and a nice gravy is formed.

Add the mint and garam masala. Adjust seasoning and keep aside.

#For the rice


• 2½ cups rice (soak in water for 30 minutes)

• 1tbsp lemon juice

• ½ inch piece ginger julienned

• 4 green chillies cut into thin strips

• 2tsp saffron crush into 2tbsp rose water

• 2tbsp oil

• ½ cup milk

#For the bouquet garnish

• 6 green cardamoms

• 6 cloves

• 2 black cardamom

• 1 stick cinnamon

• 1 bay leaf

• Crush the ingredients coarsely and put in a muslin cloth and tie it nicely to make a potli.


In a pot put 6 ½ cups water. Add at least 3tbsp salt and the bouquet garnish.

Once the water comes to a boil add lemon juice and oil. Now add the rice. Continue to cook the rice till 80 per cent done. (Once the rice rises to the top cook for exactly 4 minutes).

Drain the rice and keep aside.

#For assembling the biryani

In a handi arrange one-third rice. Then arrange half the meat and one-third gravy over it.

Spread another one-third rice over the meat. Sprinkle julienned ginger, mint chopped and saffron with rose water.

Spread the rest of the meat over the rice. Then spread the rest of the rice and gravy on top. Sprinkle chopped mint, ginger, saffron and ½ cup milk.

Seal with aluminium foil. Put the lid on top. For extra precaution you can seal with atta dough.

Now put the handi on fire and cook till the lid gets hot. Then put the handi on a tawa and cook on low for 30-40 minutes. Switch off the flame. Do not open for another 20 minutes. Then you can break the seal and serve the biryani.

Shahi Tukda

There are different stories which relate to the origin of this delicious bread pudding dessert. Some say that Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, brought it with him in the 16th century, and that it descends from Middle Eastern bread puddings such as Eish es Serny and the Egyptian Um Ali. There are 3 steps involved in making this dish.

STEP 1: Making of the Rabri


• 3 cups milk

• A little saffron

• 1tsp each of almonds and pistas crushed

• 1tsp rose water

• 5tbsp sugar

• ½ cup milk powder


In a pan boil milk. Add saffron, almonds and pista and on medium flame keep cooking the milk. Add sugar and milk powder. Keep stirring and cooking for about 20-25 minutes till the milk becomes thick like a loose rabri. It should not be too thick.

STEP 2: Sugar Syrup (Chashni)


• ½ cup sugar

• ½ cup water


In a pan add sugar to the water and keep boiling till it becomes thick and syrupy. This is called chashni.



• 4tbsp ghee

• 4 slices bread cut into triangles


Fry the bread in ghee till it becomes brown and crispy.

#For the assembly

Dip the bread slices in chashni and remove it at once. (It should not get soggy).

Then put on a serving dish.

Put thickened milk over it. Repeat with all the slices.

Sprinkle finely sliced dry fruits over it.

Decorate with silver warq.

Durri Bhalla is a cookery expert and author of Indian Bohra Cuisine and Inner Truth To Good Health And Weight Loss. You can find her at @DurriBhallaKitchen on Instagram, Durri’s Kitchen on Facebook and Durri Bhalla on YouTube

Last updated on 07.06.22, 02:00 AM

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