Saturday, June 24, 2017

Of Salt and Water

Awadh’s distinct culture was the result of generations of cooks, dressmakers, perfumers and masons transforming their art in response to royal patronage. The cuisine, therefore, is different from Mughlai fare. Kababs go beyond being skewered on a grill. Galautis are made to melt in the mouth and kakoris nudged further towards tenderness—if you can imagine that—often by chefs who’ve devoted their lives to perfecting just one item. Qila Mahmudabad’s kitchen still boasts a nonagenarian naanpaz, who specialises in breads. There were innovations not only of the palate but also of the imagination, evidenced by winter desserts given names like lab-e-mashooq, the lips of the beloved. The merits of the food, however, would only be discussed tangentially, Ali Khan tells me. One might say, for example, “Aab-o-namak munasib hai”. The salt and water are just right.

What would we be if we did not romance life? Take pleasure in its offerings of fragrance, music, poetry, food?

On that note, lunch beckoned. I had skipped breakfast. To enjoy food fit for nawabs, I’d decided, one must exercise a degree of restraint...

This is from an article about visiting Mahmudabad and some other places nearabouts. Read the full article here:

Monday, June 05, 2017

Running off track

It’s a pleasant idea to contemplate—a track that runs like a divider down the road, protected by metal obstructions on either side and shaded by trees. For someone who believes in cycles over motorised transport, it would be a beautiful sight to behold. I beheld such a sight recently in Lucknow, but sadly, only in brief fragments.

One shady stretch of cycling track would run down the middle of a road, but it would come to a rude halt at a roundabout or at the cross-roads junction. It was as if whoever had designed and built the cycling track had suddenly run out of patience with the idea that cyclists need clear passage and protection against heavier motor vehicles. Confronting a roundabout, the designers seem to have thrown up their hands and said, I can’t do this, man!

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