The traditional Lucknow street food is both delicious and highly acclaimed and has a long, fascinating history.
The city of Lucknow, steeped in a rich tapestry of history and culture, is not just the heart of Uttar Pradesh, but also its culinary soul. As you meander through the bustling streets, you come upon architectural marvels that echo tales of its Nawabi past, and the tantalizing aromas of traditional Lucknawi street food that’s impossible to resist.
Recognized not only for its flavours and style of cooking, Lucknow’s street food is a harmonious blend of Mughalai, Awadhi, and North Indian influences, reflecting its storied past. These dishes, perfected over centuries, are a testament to the city’s remarkable synthesis of art, culture, and gastronomy. With every bite, one can taste the laborious effort of ancient chefs and the royal tastes they catered to, all combining to produce rich flavours that are as layered as the history of Lucknow itself.
From melt-in-the-mouth kebabs to fragrant biryanis, crunchy chaats to silky phirnis, the street food of Lucknow promises not just a culinary delight but also a journey through time. As you savour these delicacies, you aren’t just tasting food; you’re imbibing a tradition, a culture, and a legacy that has stood the test of time.
So, prepare to be surprised and delighted, as we embark on this journey of famous street food in Lucknow through the lanes of the city, exploring dishes that are delicious but are also a part of the very fabric of the city’s heritage.
Lucknow is the birthplace of Awadhi cuisine
Lucknow is where Awadhi cuisine started, inspired by the cooking style of the Nawabs. These Nawabs, who ruled India in the Mughal times, carried many regional dishes from their travels across India. Once in Lucknow, these dishes blended with local ingredients, resulting in the tasty Awadhi cuisine we enjoy today.
Lucknow’s traditional food often includes a lot of spices, dairy like yoghurt, nuts, dried fruits, and many fresh vegetables. You can see the Mughal touch in the biryani, made with many spices and aromatic basmati rice. Meat dishes, ranging from creamy kormas to the drier rogan josh, are also favourites. Grilled foods like shami kebabs, seekh kababs, and galouti kebabs are widely enjoyed as possibly the best street food in Lucknow.
Lucknow cuisine is also renowned for its iconic sweets such as the delectable shahi tukda and sheermal – both of which are made using a blend of nuts, saffron and cardamom-scented milk. Other famous desserts include kheer, malpua and the famous Awadhi zarda.
The traditional food of Lucknow is truly a delicious experience for any food lover – offering an array of flavours, spices and textures that will tantalize your taste buds!
The famous Chaats and Pani Puris of Awadh
The Chaats of Awadh is an iconic part of its cuisine. These savoury snacks, originating from regional cooking traditions, are a mouth-watering combination of flavours and textures that will tantalize your taste buds! From spicy papdi chaat to tangy aloo tikki chaat, these tea time treats which can be billed ‘ Lucknow non veg street food!’ will hit the spot and give you a unique taste of Awadhi cuisine.
Basket Chaat is a delicious Awadhi chaat that is made with spiced potatoes and chickpeas, crunchy papri and dollops of creamy yoghurt. The chaat is then topped off with sweet tamarind chutney and spicy green chilli chutney for an extra zing! Some of the must-try chaats are aloo tikki, bhalla papdi and gol gappa. The best places to try these snacks are Pandit Chaat Bhandar and Kachori Wala.
Dahi Batashe is an iconic Awadhi street food. It’s made with deep-fried vadas that are soaked in thick yoghurt and topped with sweet chutneys, sev (crunchy noodles), and spices.
Matra ki Chaat is a popular Awadhi chaat that is made from steamed mats, which are spicy and tangy mashed peas mixed with spices. The chaat is then topped off with onion, cilantro, crunchy papri, yoghurt and tamarind chutney.
Shakarkandi Ki Chaat is a unique Awadhi chaat that features roasted sweet potatoes as the main ingredient! The sweet potatoes are mixed with spices, herbs and chutneys, then topped off with crunchy papri and yoghurt.
If you’re looking to try these delicious chaats while in Awadh, the best place is the iconic street-side stalls of Lucknow. Here, you will find vendors serving up piping hot chaat, straight from their karahis, to the delight of locals and tourists alike. So don’t miss out on this scrumptious Awadhi speciality.
Pani puri falls in the chaat category as street vendors generally supply both. Some of the must-try places for pani puris are Gopal Chaat Bhandar and Chachi’s Street Foods. A slightly bigger version of pani puri is phuchka, which has boiled gram and mashed potatoes as filling and which can be found in many street side stalls or even at malls. Some of the best street food places in Lucknow for phuchkas are Bhola Papdi Wala and Chowdhury’s Gol Gappa Corner.
Meetha – traditional Awadhi Desserts and where you can eat them in Lucknow
Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream made of evaporated and condensed milk, cardamom, saffron, pistachios and mixed nuts. It has a rich creamy texture which comes from the slow cooking process used to make it.
Kulfi can be found in restaurants throughout Lucknow but for an authentic taste, nothing beats visiting Ram Asrey where this delicacy has been served for more than three generations.
Some of the other must-try places for kulfis are Gulab Ji’s Halwai and Prakash Kulfiwala.
Jalebi is a sweet fried pastry made from wheat flour and sugar syrup. It can be enjoyed during breakfast or as an evening snack. The best places to try jalebis in Lucknow are Chowk, Malihabad or Aminabad. Other places to try jalebis are Bhola’s Laddoo and Halwai, and Sonu Sweets & Snacks.
Gulab jamun is a popular dessert in India and Pakistan, made with dried milk solids, sugar syrup and cardamom. The traditional recipe calls for deep-frying the balls of dough before soaking them in hot sugar syrup. Lucknow is known for its delicious gulab jamuns and some of the best places to find them are Aslam Sweets, Tunday Kababi, and Kesar Wali Gali.
Kheer is a popular Indian pudding made with rice, milk, cardamom, raisins and almonds. This creamy dessert can be found in most restaurants in Lucknow, but for an unforgettable experience, visit the famous Chaula Dhaba near Chowk where this delicacy has been served for generations.
Malpua is a type of pancake made with flour, milk and ghee. This sweet dessert can be enjoyed either hot or cold and is popular in Lucknow. The best places to have malpua are the local sweet shops such as Ghasitaram Halwai, or the famous Dhokla Thali at Chowk.
Makhan Malai, more commonly known as Nimish, is a traditional sweet dish from Lucknow. It is made by boiling thickened milk with nuts and cardamom and then topping it with cream or mawa (a type of condensed milk). The dessert is served chilled and has a unique texture that melts in your mouth.
The best place to savour Makhan Malai or Nimish in Lucknow is the iconic Moti Mahal, which is located in Aminabad. This historical eatery has been serving the unique sweet since its inception in the 1940s and continues to be a favourite haunt of locals as well as tourists alike. Apart from this, there are several other restaurants and eateries in Lucknow that serve Makhan Malai. These include Rumi’s Kitchen, Arjun Sweets, Royal Cafe and many more. Most of these places have outdoor seating options available as well where you can relish the creamy sweet while being surrounded by the city’s hustle and bustle.
Another traditional Awadhi sweet is Badaam Halwa. This is a rich and creamy dessert made with almonds, sugar, ghee and milk. It has a custard-like consistency and is usually garnished with pistachios or almonds. The sweetness of the halwa makes it perfect to end a delicious dinner with.
Some of the most famous places where you can get Badaam Halwa in Lucknow include Kalda Sweets, Chowk’s Aslam Sweets, Gulab Kunj, Sweet Junction, Mithai Ghar, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar, and Pracheen Sweets. All of these shops offer freshly cooked, delicious Badaam Halwa that locals love!
Shahi Tukda is a classic Mughlai dessert from Lucknow. It is made with deep-fried bread slices, milk and various spices such as cardamom and saffron. The dish is served warm or cold and topped with nuts, raisins, khoya and rabri for added sweetness. You can order at Tunday Kebab, Chotiwala and The Royal Cafe
These traditional Awadhi desserts can be found throughout Lucknow and they offer a unique experience for both locals and tourists alike.
10 most appetizing street food in Lucknow and where to eat them
Biryani in Lucknow is a fragrant symphony of delicate flavours, where long-grained Basmati rice mingles with succulent pieces of meat and a blend of aromatic spices. Unlike the Hyderabadi or Bengali versions, Lucknawi biryani is characterized by its lightness, subtlety, and unique method of cooking called ‘dum’, where the dish is sealed and cooked over a slow flame. This ensures a harmonious infusion of flavours.
“Wahid Biryani” in Aminabad is a legendary name that often pops up when discussing Lucknawi biryani. Another iconic place is “Idris Biryani”, located in Chowk, which has been serving this delectable dish for generations. Other popular places for tasting this delicious dish are Tunday Kebabi, Idrees Biryani Center and Dastarkhwan.
Kebabs are not just a dish in Lucknow; they’re an emblem of the city’s rich culinary heritage. Tender chunks of meat marinated in a medley of spices, herbs, and yoghurt, then either grilled or roasted, these delights melt in the mouth. They’re the crowning jewels of Lucknawi cuisine, reflecting the deep Mughal influence.
With several variants like the Galouti, Boti, and Kakori, Lucknow’s streets come alive in the evenings with the smoky aroma of these skewered marvels. Eateries, both old and new, showcase this delicacy, but the true essence lies in the bustling lanes of the old city. Some of the popular places to try these mouth-watering kebabs are Noor Mohammadi Kebab Centre, Rahim’s Kebab, and Ghazal Kebab Corner.
Tunday Kabab, as a name, is almost synonymous with Lucknow. Legend has it that the kebab was created for a Nawab who had lost his teeth but not his passion for meat. Hence, the kebabs were made so soft and tender that they required no chewing. Infused with more than a hundred spices, this kebab is a true reflection of the complexity and depth of Awadhi cuisine. The original “Tunday Kababi” shop in the old Chowk area is where aficionados throng to get a taste of this legendary dish. It’s not just food; it’s a piece of history served on a plate. Be sure to pay a visit also to the famous Chhote Miyan Kebab Corner for this delicacy.
A regal dish from the grand Awadhi repertoire, Nargasi Kofta is essentially a spiced meatball with a boiled egg at its center, much resembling an eye, thus drawing its name from ‘Nargis’, meaning narcissus or daffodil. It is usually made in a rich and creamy gravy, making it a favourite during festive or celebratory occasions.
The dish is a visual treat as much as it is a gastronomic one. To taste this culinary speciality in Lucknow, one can head to the famous “Tunday Kababi” which, apart from its famous kebabs, serves a range of traditional dishes including Nargisi kofta. Another spot to relish Nargasi Kofta is “The Mughal’s Dastarkhwan” in Lalbagh which brings the ancient flavours of the Nawabs to the plate with precision and authenticity.
Lassi in Lucknow is not just a drink; it’s an experience. A refreshing blend of yoghurt, water, spices, and sometimes fruits or rosewater, Lassi is cherished in its sweet or salty versions. Often served in large earthen pots or ‘kullhads’, or in glasses this chilled beverage provides respite from the scorching heat.
With a thick creamy consistency topped with a dollop of fresh cream or malai, it’s a drink that complements the fiery spices of Lucknawi dishes. “Shree Lassi Corner” in Aminabad and “Raja ki Lassi” near Chowk are popular haunts for those seeking the authentic taste of Lucknawi Lassi. Some of the other must-try places for lassi are Gupta Ji’s Lassiwala and Bhola Sweets & Snacks.
Originating from the Persian culinary legacy and then flourishing in the heart of Lucknow, Sheermal is a sweet, saffron-infused flatbread. Made with refined flour, milk, sugar, and ghee, its vibrant golden hue and aromatic presence come from saffron strands soaked in milk. Often paired with spicy meat curries or enjoyed on its own, Sheermal stands out in the vibrant tapestry of Lucknawi street food. Eateries like “Ram Asrey” in the old city area have been serving this delightful bread, enticing both locals and tourists alike. Some of the other well-known places to try this delicacy are Manohar Bakery and Gulab Ji’s Sheermal Wala.
Veg Kebab Parantha
Vegetarian counterparts to the famous kebabs of Lucknow, Veg Kebab Paranthas are a delightful fusion of richly spiced vegetable kebabs served with crisply layered paranthas. Soft from the inside with a slight crunch on the outside, these kebabs seamlessly complement the buttery paranthas. A place that is synonymous with this delicacy is the “Veg Kebab Corner” in the old city area. Another spot to consider is “Baba ka Dhaba”, where the essence of traditional Awadhi flavours comes alive in vegetarian form.
An integral part of North Indian street food, Poori-Kachori is a savoury experience. While Poori is a deep-fried bread puffing up to a round shape, Kachori is a fried pastry filled with spiced lentils or other savoury fillings. Dipped in spicy potato gravy or tangy tamarind chutney, it’s a breakfast favourite for many. “Ratti Lal’s” in Hazratganj is a legendary spot for this treat. For those wandering in Aminabad, “Shree Lassi Corner” offers impeccable Kachori paired with mouthwatering accompaniments.
Although not native to Lucknow, Chicken Shawarma has found its fervent admirers in the city. Rolled into soft flatbreads, with juicy chicken strips, tangy sauces, and crisp veggies, it’s a wholesome meal that resonates with the urban crowd. “Shawarma Point” in Indira Nagar and “Lebanese Delicacies” on Ashok Marg are go-to spots for Shawarma enthusiasts.
A dish with deep roots in Mughlai cuisine, Kulche Nihari is a fine blend of slow-cooked meat stew paired with soft kulchas (a type of bread). Consumed primarily during breakfast, this dish is a testament to the patience and precision in traditional cooking. “Wahid’s Biryani” in Aminabad is renowned for its Nihari, often drawing in a crowd right from dawn. Another iconic spot is “Rahim’s Kulche Nihari” in the Chowk area, which has been serving this delicacy for generations.
Read more: Food Voyager