When it comes to the influence of north Indian cuisine in our eating habits, I bet there is no state more influential than Uttar Pradesh.
Though the regular Mughlai and Awadhi cuisine of the state may have a large resemblance to the cuisines of Kashmir and Punjab due to the major influence of the earlier Mughal rule in these states, there is much more to the culinary journey of this state which spans long before the advent of the foreign invaders.
May it be the street smart delectable delicacies like the chaat and the samosa, or the magnanimous use of mutton by the Nawabs or paneer by the Marathas, Uttar Pradesh cuisine has always absorbed rich spices like cardamom and saffron to perfection to adapt and create a variety of dishes reminiscent of an entire smorgasbord of authentic recipes.
I had the opportunity to be part of the Uttar Pradesh Food Festival organised by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism at the Lake View Café at Renaissance Hotel, Powai which showcase the glorious offerings of traditional delicacies from the heartland of the country and conceivably India’s most influential state.
The culture of the state was displayed in abundance in the cuisine as diverse as its geography that was served at the festival. The hospitality of the people of Uttar Pradesh as evident profusely and proved beyond doubt that they love to cook, to eat and to feed.
Whether it was the cuisine of the Nawabs considered to be great gourmets or of the staunch vegetarian Hindu communities, the hospitality was evident beyond compare and one would get tired eating but they won’t get tired feeding us till we virtually beg for mercy.
It wasn’t just food that gets one attracted to the state and it was evident by the mesmerising musical performance by Bollywood singer Anuradha Singh who enthralled us with her rendering of the traditional folk music like the Rasiya, the Kajari, the Thumri and the Qawwali to accompanying music.
As I travelled back home, I was still soaking into the feeling of having witnessed the confluence of the culture of this multi-faceted state and having been a part of the culinary journey of the powerful empires of ancient and medieval India.