By Hillary Latos
While most Americans cannot distinguish between the different regional nuances in Indian cuisine, Awadhi cuisine represents the Uttar Pradesh and is influenced by Mughal slow cooking techniques with rich and full bodied dishes stemming from the Nawabi region. As a celebrated chef of Indian cuisine, chef and restaurateur Anand started with the New York Times two-star rated Moti Mahal Deluxe restaurant on the Upper East Side along with Bhatti Indian Grill in Curry Hill, before launching his latest flagship fine dining restaurant Awadh on the Upper West Side. To ensure authenticity in recreating the depth and intensity of Awadhi cuisine, Gaurav Anand traveled to the Nawab city of Lucknow to immerse himself in the dum pukht technique of Awadhi cooking, which involves slow cooking in a traditional sealed handi over a low flame for many hours.
The intimate yet elegant bi level space was designed by Laura Weatherbee. Dramatic double height ceilings showcase an 8 foot cascading bubble glass chandelier providing a soft glow in the dark paneled dining room beset with tufted banquettes and gold foiled walls. The menu highlights Awadhi specialties such as Awadh Murgh Tikka- black pepper and pomegranate marinated chicken, and grilled lamb kebabs originally created for the Awadhi royals with 120 different spices.
Aromatic Awadhi entrees cooked in the dum pukht method include Nali Ki Nihari- lamb shanks simmered overnight, Mahi Musallam – whole fish of the day crusted with turmeric and a masala spice mix, Lagan Ki Raan – leg of lamb cooked with a spice blend and onion tomato masala, and three types of Biryaani cooked in a pot sealed by crispy naan bread. A specialty of the house is Dahiwala – a slow simmered baby goat stew accompanied by yogurt mixed with turmeric, garam masala and Awadhi spices. Vegetable entrees showcase Anand’s balanced approach to spices, including Karari Bhindi – spicy crisped okra, Chatpati Gobhi Lehsuni – cauliflower with garlic tomato sauce, and Kairi Ki Dal- tangy cumin yellow lentils balanced with mango.
Anand’s culinary range showcases his affinity for seafood in dishes such as Tawa Scallops with celery sauce, Uri Jheenga – coconut shrimp curry, Ajwaini Jheenga – grilled prawns marinated with carom seeds, and a sublime Malai Lobster Masala grilled lobster with saffron. These delicately prepared dishes are only enhanced by the range of wines that have been carefully selected by the acclaimed sommelier John Slover, formerly of Daniel and Le Bernardin which together create an unforgettable dining experience.
NY, NY 10025