While dine-in facility has begun, not many customers thronged the legendary Tunday Kababi outlet in Aminabad o…Read More
LUCKNOW: When Lucknow’s iconic Tunday Kababi reopened after an unprecedented closure of 90 days, a lot had changed at the Nawabi-era eatery.
Most importantly, for fans of the 115-year-old recipe the experience of melt-in-the-mouth kebabs was not the same. Its signature dish of galawat kebabs made with buffalo meat has been replaced with that of chicken kebabs as a ‘majboori’ because buffalo meat is not available in the city since the lockdown. Though the eatery is also serving mutton kebabs, sales have barely touched 60% of what they were before the lockdown.
Besides, the restaurant which had tables packed closed together and one would usually need to wait to get a seat now looks bare. Only two people, with sometimes a child, are allowed on one table to follow social distancing norms and there is space between two tables.
Besides, prices of dishes such as kebabs, parathas and biryani have also gone up.
Mohamad Usman, the owner, said that all three major outlets had reopened.
“We have resumed operations at Akbari Gate, Aminabad and Kapoorthala outlets. The focus, however, is now on chicken dishes because chicken is available easily but mutton is still difficult to get. Buffalo meat, as of now, is completely off the market. Meat sellers have no idea when that crisis would get resolved,” said Usman, whose great grandfather had developed the Nawabi-era recipe.
Making the kebabs with chicken meat, however, is a challenge and in a way, incongruous with the idea of melt-in-the-mouth.
“Chicken meat is drier and doesn’t get tenderized as well as buffalo meat. We have used the same spices and method but the difference will remain. Lekin abhi to majboori hai (We have no choice),” says Usman. The supply chain of even the available meat is not back to normal as yet. There is still shortage of meat sellers as many have not been able to resume operations owing to losses.
Besides, the cost of meat has gone up substantially.
“Both mutton and chicken meat are being sold at a higher price than before. As a result, we have been forced to increase prices slightly. But, we have considered affordability of people,” said Usman.
The early closing time is proving to be another obstacle.
“We don’t expect people to come in large numbers as of now. However, the closing time of 9pm is a hindrance to the little turnout which we are seeing. Daytime is very hot and people step out at dinnertime but we need to close early,” said Usman.
While seating arrangement has been modified to follow social distancing, the restaurant is allowing dine-in on only one section. Its focus remains on takeout services though home delivery orders have gone down by more than half of usual.
At another eatery which is more than a century old, a revolution of sorts is in the making.
Shoaib Rizwan Qureshi, the third-generation owner of Mubeen’s, known for signature its dish ‘pasande’ and ‘nahari’ is also experimenting with chicken dishes.
“We have been trying chicken nihari with the same meticulous process as was used with buffalo meat. We made our family members try the dish and at first, they outright disapproved of it. However, after relentless efforts, we have managed to get close to the original taste. If all goes as planned, we will open in a few days,” said Qureshi.
However, he too reiterates that the iconic preparations using buffalo meat and mutton would be missed dearly.
Both Usman and Qureshi said that permission to all meat sellers was imperative to keep the name of Lakhnavi cuisine intact.