Awadhi Cuisine, of the bygone era

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Awadh was ancient name for present Lucknow and surrounding regions, capital of Uttar Pradesh in North India.
The seekh kabab has long been considered a piece de resistance in the Awadhi dastarkhwan . The beautifully executed kabab is what every Lucknawi is proud of. The seekh kabab, introduced in this region by the Mughals, was originally prepared from beef mince on skewers and cooked on charcoal fire. But later influences and innovations led to the use of lamb mince, which was preferred for its soft texture. Besides, serving of it on the dastarkhwan did not offend the sensibilities of the Hindu guests. The immense popularity of this kabab led to further refinements and improvements and one bawarchi from Kakori found much acclaim for his efforts in this direction. Kakori is a small hamlet on the outskirts of Lucknow, in the Lucknow - Malihabad mango - belt. During the freedom struggle, it became well known for the famous 'Kakori Case' when a band of freedom fighters looted the train carrying the British Government Treasury money at this obscure place. In the same period, of British rule, it was also customary in this region for the rich Rajas and Nawabs, to entertain senior British Officers and ply them with the best hospitality they could offer. And if it was the mango season , a 'mango dinner' was very much in order (dinner in a mango orchard, was followed by a variety of chilled mangoes served in great style). At one such parties in Kakori, stung by the remark of a British Officer regarding the coarse texture of Seekh Kabab, the host, Nawab late Syed Mohammad Haider Kazmi summoned his rakabdars, hakims and attars the very next day and asked them to evolve a more refined variety of the Seekh Kabab. Ten days of incessant research and design efforts resulted in the now famous 'Kakori Kababs' which was as far as perfection could go. The mince for the kabab was to be obtained from no other part but the 'Raan ki Machhli' (Tendon of the leg of mutton) and Rawaz or animal fat was replaced by khoya, black pepper replaced by white pepper and a brand new mix of powdered spices which still remains a closely guarded secret added to the perfect blend. And of course, the Nawab invited the same officer again and presented the new version of the Seekh Kabab and needless to say it met with great applause. Since then the Seekh Kababs of Kakori became famous by word of mouth and even today, though cooked elsewhere, are known as 'Kakori Kababs'.

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