To be fair, this was not my first visit to Dastarkhawan in Lucknow. In a previous post about Lucknow, I had written about Dastarkhawan, and a few other places, in my Lucknow non-vegetarian trail. This time, at first, I had resisted the lure of this place.
However, it hadn’t been easy. But I did it, despite the fact that from the moment I had landed in Lucknow, I had been thinking of this place, the images of food going round and round inside my head, and when I finally entered the slightly dusty place, and sat down with a slightly disgruntled R opposite a pair of unknown faces who were equally hungry (or more), our collective tummies rumbling after a rather long excursion inside the Bada Imambada, the first thing I did was look at the menu card.
Look at it! One vegetarian item, proudly displayed on the menu, and well, that’s it. If you are vegan, this is probably not the place to visit. We were wearing two identical beautific smiles on our faces while contemplating the menu, and finally decided upon a few items we liked. As the waiter came in, I rattled off a few names, and he shuffled off rather quickly, returning with a plate of freshly cut onions and a rather tangy green chutney which was to be shared by all who were on the table.
Yes, that meant the other two rather unknown people on our table too. Not that we minded, but wisely, I took a few strands of the onions, a dab of the chutney, and a couple of green chillies, because who knew, one of those might be an even bigger fan of heat than I was.
The food reached us within a short span of time, the plates plonked down rather unceremoniously, one after the other. The Shammi Kabab was what I had wanted to return for in the first place, the beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the kabab stuck inside my head, and truthfully speaking, I was rather charmed this time as well. A dab of the green chutney, a twist of lime, and this became the perfect accompaniment for the Ulte Tawe Ka Paratha I had ordered.
I think I don’t have enough words to praise the Ulte Tawe Ka Paratha. This was beautifully light, not greasy at all, and the way it is massaged while its cooking is a wonderful thing to watch.
I had met Chef Ranveer Brar a few days ago, and we had both agreed that the Chicken Masala at Dastarkhawan was one of the things that this place should be remembered for, and the chicken, which came in a rather fiery sticky masala with plenty of coconut in it, was a revelation. I have rarely had a dish in Lucknow with coconut in it, and I have to say, this is something which would take you aback. The masala is perfect for encasing within bits of paratha before popping in your mouth, and the chicken was juicy and tender, and well, R had to pack some more for our trip back.
Out of all the dishes, I think the Chicken Korma was the least underwhelming, the gravy nice and mild, and not swimming in oil. I saw many people pour the gravy all over their serving of biryani and mix everything together before consuming with great gusto.
Speaking of Biryani, our portion was served at the very end, right after we had finished our parathas. Now, I would like to mention that the last time I had been here, they had forgotten to pack my biryani. This time when they served it, I could smell the fragrance from afar, and it was sort of healing. I don’t exactly know what to call it, but this biryani is, hands down, quite good, and we got a few pieces of mutton which were tender and with plenty of intramuscular fat, rendering the meat tender, but still holding their own.
If you are in Lucknow, you would, of course, get plenty of places to eat Lucknow biryani and Kabab. There is the legendary Shakhawat, Mubeen’s, Lalla, Waheed, Naushijaan, Tunday Miyan, Idris, and a few others. However, Dastarkhwan in Lucknow is definitely worth a visit, simply for consistency and fast service, and for about Rupees 500/- for all that we had consumed, it was definitely more than value for money.
This Dastarkhwan outlet we visited is Near Tulsi Theater, Lucknow.