- The Gist: North Indian-inspired with a focus on low and slow cooking
- The Chefs: Dhruv Mittal
- Location: 49 Maddox St, London W1S 2PQ
- Food in 5 words: Regional biryanis, kebabs and curries
- See more: On Instagram @lucknow_social
How did we get here?
Via the team behind Dum Biryani House, which kicked off in 2016 in Soho offering South Indian dishes from the regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Now, chef Dhruv Mittal is turning to North India for inspiration, opening the doors to Lucknow Social, a neighbourhood Indian restaurant specialising in Lucknowi cuisine.
Last year, Dishoom’s executive chef Naved Nasir noted that regional cuisine was making a comeback and Lucknow Social is dipping into this trend.
The new restaurant will open on March 4 and reflect Mittal’s time spent working as a chef at the Oberoi hotel in Agra at their trademark Awadhi restaurant, Esphahan, situated just east of Lucknow in the Uttar Pradesh region. Here, he fell in love with the method of cooking over a low flame that is synonymous with the area.
What’s different about it?
Mittal will take inspiration from the Awadhi cooking of Lucknow, which sees fluffy biryanis, galauti kebabs and curries at the centre of the table.
“Awadhi cooking is a slow process, with most dishes taking days to prepare – it’s a real labour of love. Spending time cooking in Agra and travelling around Lucknow, I was blown away by its multi-layered flavours and cooking techniques,” said Mittal. “I’m looking forward to bringing this style of cooking to Lucknow Social, and creating an escape where people can gather to socialise over a North Indian feast.”
At dinner, guests to the Maddox Street space can kick things off with a choice of kebabs, based on the dishes of the Mughal emperors whose Persian roots inspired much of the Awadhi style. There’s a kakori kebab spiked with clove, black pepper and cinnamon, grilled over coals, while fragrant biryanis include a white rice dish made with 16-hour simmered lamb stock also known as a yakhni pulao.
Lucknow Social’s curries are labour-intensive affairs. Choices range from lamb neck korma spiced with saffron to taar gosht (literally ‘sticky lamb’), a specialty of Lucknow’s royal kitchens that consists of a spice-marinated lamb leg rendered down for several hours to create a thick sauce.
Regional flatbreads like parathas and kulchas are on hand to mop up the sauces, while fresh sides of pickled lacha onion and homemade coriander chutney can be used to cut through the heat. To finish, cold, simple desserts round off the menu, including a homemade matka kulfi (similar to ice cream but thicker) with almonds and rosewater, and phirni, a sweet rice pudding.
At lunchtime, people can order quick bites, including a multi-layered gilafi kulcha with a choice of chicken kakori or lamb galauti kebab, and a smaller version of the biryani to take away.
You’ve got to try…
The lamb galauti kebab made with minced lamb and over 50 dry spices, hand-pounded into a soft paste and gently fried. It was originally invented for a toothless nawab (nobleman) – or viceroy (king) – of the region.
Sparkie also likes…
Awadhi chicken biryani flavoured with saffron, rose water, screw pine essence, and a perfume made with the roots of several flowers and seeds.
You want to explore curries and kebabs that have hours invested into them.