If you’re looking for a unique kind of experience with food you’ve only heard about, but never actually enjoyed, then the Tunday Kababi Food Festival at Raintree Anna Salai is where you need to be. The best part is that while the dishes might sound familiar, there’s a story behind every single element and that’s what makes it even more enjoyable.
Sous Chef of Raintree Anna Salai, Amandeep Singh, sat down with us to tell us the story of how the Tunday Kabab came to be. The Nawab of Lucknow, many years ago, was a huge fan of meat but as he got older, it became harder to enjoy meat without hurting his teeth. In Aminabad, the Nawab kept all of his royal chefs together so that they could prepare his food for him on a daily basis. He challenged his chefs to make a meat dish that would be easy on his teeth and promised to reward the chef that could make that perfect delicacy. Haji Murad Ali was his name, but because he had lost one hand in an accident, he was known as Tunday. In Hindi, “Tunday” is used to describe a person with a hand disability.
Haji Murad Ali made a soft kabab, which was a variation of the galouti kabab, with 140 spices. The king was very happy with this kabab, as one can imagine. It became a legacy and known as the Tunday Kabab. The recipe for this kabab is guarded by the family, but handed down from generation to generation, so that every member of the family knows the details and the recipe. The restaurant, Tunday Kababi, was established in 1905 and since then there have been three more restaurants opened in Lucknow. Chef Azhar Hussain is the man who holds the secrets of the Tunday Kabab now and he’s visiting Chennai to give the city a glimpse into what makes Lucknowi food such a treat in every way. Chef Azhar is well travelled and well known in and out of India.
There was a spread of food and a full menu to choose from. Everything from starters to main course to dessert was laid out on the menu and available to everyone who wishes to enjoy the food festival.
We had the Nalli Nihari Shorba to get started. A spicy, meaty soup that is cooked with delicious spices is definitely the way to start the meal. It wakes up every single sense and prepares you for a meal that is going to absolutely win you over.
As it is a kebab food festival, there were lots of kebabs on our table. The vegetarian options are as vast as the non-vegetarian, but when properly enjoying a kebab food festival, the non-vegetarian options are where you should be looking. We started off with the famous Tunday Galawati Kebab that was served with the Tunday Ulta Tawa Parantha, because when in Tunday Kababi, do as they do.
Then we also got to enjoy the Gosht Seekh Kebab which is made with minced lamb and loaded with spices and flavours. As well as the Murgh Nawabi Seekh Kebab which is made with chicken and cooked with Awadhi royal spices.
Also on our table was the Machichi Ke Sooley which is a tandoori fish preparation marinated in yogurt and roasted without oil. Along with this, we had the Nawabi Murgh Tikka, which is also marinated in yogurt and pomegranate juice and glazed in the tandoor.
In the vegetarian section, we tried the Subz Ki Galawat wich is a combination of minced garden vegetables and seared on the tawa and the vegetarian version of the Tunday Kababi. We also had the Paneer Lazeez which was cooked in the Awadhi traditional way and finally the Malai Phool which was broccoli and cauliflower marinated in yogurt and cream.
The Gosht Nihari Korma was what we started with and the flavours were so strong, it was an experience unlike any other. Also on the table was the Chicken Shahazani Korma, with spices from the infamous Awadhi royal era, making it an absolutely delicious treat. There was also the Malika-E-Dariya which was made using freshwater fish imported from Delhi and cooked to perfection that it melts on your tongue.
In the vegetarian section, we tried the Paneer Pashtton Kaliya which was cooked and simmered in a slow dum method. One bite is an explosion of flavours and absolutely delicious. We also had the Subz Navrantan Korma which is a melange of vegetables cooked in a shahi gravy, giving it a certain amount of sweetness. It’s a completely different kind of dish, but one that everyone must try.
We also had the Sufiyani Mutton Pulao which is again an Awadhi style mutton pulao, a lot like a biryani, but not made the same way. And of course, when in Lucknow, you must eat the Lucknowi Chicken Biryani which is cooked the traditional dum way and served nice and hot.
No meal is complete without dessert. No matter what kind of cuisine you are enjoying, dessert is still the most delicious treat of all. We had a traditional Lucknowi dessert known as Khubani Ka Meetha which is an apricot dessert and the sweet treat you want after a delicious meal. We also enjoyed the Zarda Pulao, which as you can imagine is a sweet pulao made with saffron, ghee and dry nuts. And finally, the Shahi Tukra, which is a delicacy almost everybody has heard of. It’s a fried bread pudding dessert soaked in hot milk and prepared with spices.
The Tunday Kababi Festival is happening at Up North, the rooftop restaurant at The Raintree Anna Salai. It’s only available for dinner till Sunday, March 26th.
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