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I've been learning a bit lately about some of the courtly foods of Awadh. I have to say, I'm humbled by the sheer extravagance of some of the dishes.

For instance, as a method of scenting their flesh some of the royal chickens were fed pineapples, perfumes, saffron, jasmine and pomegranate. Wow. Puts Kobe beef to shame!

I have a bit of a puzzle, though, and I'm wondering if anybody hereabouts might have some insights. One of the staple masalas, lazzat-e-taam, blends around 25 ingredients (including sandalwood powder and rose petals). Two, however, are mysteries to me: jarakush and baobeer. Any thoughts? I don't expect them to be available to me here in Portland, Oregon but I remain curious.

--jim

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What's a nice Oregonian Chef like yourself  doing trying to figure out the mysteries of Avadh cuisine. :D

Seriously, I commend you for raising a question that may have escaped many a die hard Indian culinarian/chef.

The great God of Cyberia - Google doesnt cough up anything either. An easier option would be for me to take a trip to Lucknow which I have been wanting to do for a long time, but that may be a few months away.

Give me some time to figure this one out.

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When Google fails, fun's afoot.   :D

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Some more info on Awadh cuisine and lucky chickens.

Epicurean delights of Awadh

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I asked an Expert Chef and he said that he'd never heard of  jarakush and baobeer. Jim, where have you come across these?

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Just a moment, and I'll be back with an answer!

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Sorry for the delay, I came across these mystery ingredients in a wonderful cookbook titled Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh. (Dastarkhwan=tablecloth/dining spread) It was written by R.K. Saxena and Sangeeta Bhatnagar, published by Harper Collins; my copy came out in 1997.  It's infuriatingly difficult to come by!  I was only able to get a copy of it using my local library's interlibrary loan service.  

The recipe for lazzat-e-taam (that which enhances the taste of the food) is in an appendix, and notes that it is "available in powder form in a few selected shops in old Lucknow."

--jim

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Two ingredients that are essential to Awadh cuisine are :

Khus/Vetiver

and

Kewra/Pandanus

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Jarakush or Zarakush is dried lemon grass. It intrigues me as to how lemon grass (extensively used in Thai cuisine) came to Awadh. May be because of its medicinal values. CIMAP (Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants) in Lucknow has done a lot of work on lemon grass and has many varieties grown on their campus at Chinhat.

Regarding Baobeer we are clueless now becuse the elderly khansama who told

us about it is no more alive and the shop in Aminabad where it was supposed

to be available was gutted in a fire few years back. Some elders say that it

is Haobeer and not Baobeer but we have nothing on it as of now, however,

still trying to figure it out.

Currently the book Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh is out of print. However, Harper

Collins is bringing out its second edition with a new look in four months

time. Those interested may contact harper@ndf.vsnl.net.in or Harper Collins

Publishers, 1A, Hamilton House, Connaught Place, New Delhi -110 001 Tel

011-2335 2233 for booking a copy in advance.

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Mr. R. K Saxena is the Principal of Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition, Mumbai-400 028. He was the principal of the Lucknow chapter when he co-authored the rare book - Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh.

Mr. Saxena, we are glad to have you here and thanks for joining in. I'm glad to know that Jarakush is an easily available ingredient. "Jarakhush ho gaya!" :)

A couple of questions:

How long did it take to research and finally put the book in print?

What is Lazzat-e-taam and sweet ittar ?

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