Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Awadh

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Awadh

Article excerpt



Open daily for lunch and dinner. Entrees $12-$24.

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The first Nawab of Awadh, in what is now the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, was the grandson of a wealthy Persian merchant. A string of Nawabs governed from the seventeen-twenties to the mid-eighteen-hundreds, barely holding off British annexation. They were famous for their decadence, inclined to indulge in dancing girls and lavish feasts, known as dastarkhwan: tapestries of kebabs, biryanis, and curries. On Manhattan's Upper West Side, in an area whose residents have learned to rely on Teflon standbys, Gaurav Anand (the chef-owner of Moti Mahal Delux, on the Upper East Side) has opened a paean to the prodigious cuisine of Awadh.

A disco-mirrored Buddha and eighties-era details, like dark slatted wood and glass-ball chandeliers, belie the refinement of the food. Anand travelled to Lucknow, Awadh's capital, to learn the centuries-old technique of dum pukht , which he employs to handsome effect in the deceptively simple-looking appetizer Awadh Murgh Tikka. Steamed cubes of chicken are marinated in pomegranate powder, chickpea flour, and yogurt, then sealed in a heavy-bottomed pan and heated over a low flame, so that the meat cooks in its own juices. It's extremely tender, and is finished on the grill for a bit of charred crunchiness on the corners. The Galouti kebab comes as creamy-crisp disks of pounded minced lamb, which arrive atop miniature paratha. …

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