Lucknow: Nawabi-era kitchen now to serve only memories | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Lucknow: Nawabi-era kitchen now to serve only memories

In a break from tradition, as old as 179 years, the grand Nawabi-era kitchen on the premises of Chhota Imambada Lucknow will not serve ‘meals and memories’ this Muharram.

lucknow Updated: Sep 14, 2017 14:00 IST
Oliver Fredrick

In a break from tradition, as old as 179 years, the grand Nawabi-era kitchen on the premises of Chhota Imambada Lucknow will not serve ‘meals and memories’ this Muharram.

Instead the ‘hygienic tabarrukh’ for the devotees, which include both the poor and the royals, will be supplied by a sophisticated caterer to be hired especially for the purpose.

Believed to be established by Mohammad Ali Shah, the third king of Oudh and founder of Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT), the kitchen is famous for feeding hundreds of Muslim devotees who assemble at historic Imambada for 10-day long Muharram ritual.

But the earthy smell of burning wood used as fuel to cook food will be missing this time.

And so will be the sight of over half a dozen cooks preparing khameeri roti, sheermaal, dal fried and potato (curry) on cauldrons.

Interestingly, a few cooks were roped in to prepare the food exclusively for royal families.

“There used to be the special menu of bakarkhwani (traditional bread), special sized khameeri roti and curry for them,” claimed an official from HAT.

“It will be for the first time in the history that no food will be cooked at the royal cookhouse that was established for the purpose,” said a trader from the area, a regular to majlis.

Dubbing the move as more of interference in religious matters and less of modernization, a septuagenarian from Old City said, “It is not about food but of sentiments and traditions. No one has the right to change it.”

“But the trust seems least bothered in keeping a check on such unwarranted interferences,” said another Old City resident while reminiscing the good old memories when the royal kitchen used to abuzz with activities ahead of Muharram.

“I still remember the times when the trust officials used to start dumping tons of ration at the kitchen to prepare food for hundreds and thousands of mourners.”

Trust custodian, district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma, says the decision to hire a third party is aimed at ensuring quality food distribution.

“There were some complaints regarding food quality and hence the decision,” he added.