Until 1856, the Kingdom of Oudh was a state in Awadh region during the British Raj with its capital at Faizabad. The nawabs of Oudh once lived in supreme opulence and affluence which the East India Company noticed and started interfering in the internal matters of the then prosperous Oudh and the kingdom soon became a British colony. Down the line Oudh’s territory was merged with the North Western Provinces and it formed the larger province of North Western Provinces and Oudh. This province was then known for its rich culture, art, etiquette, tradition and the rich Awadhi cuisine. As of today, legacy of the connoisseur cooks still follow the traditional style of cooking handed over to them by their ancestors who were then the Nawabi Master Chefs! This royal cuisine served here at the restaurant ‘Oudh 1590’ evokes nostalgia of its celebrated gastronome Nawabs like Asaf-ud-Daulah and Wajid Ali Shah, whose khansamas brought with them the taste of Lucknow to Kolkata 🙂
This present-day restaurant is a result of long intense research on every infinitesimal detail of that bygone era to give this ultimate period dining experience that unless lived can’t be believed! The place infact has got the Nawabi cuisine expertise since they have brought in the Awadhi bawarchis working at the tunday wali gully (famous for the exquisite Galawati kababs served at the famous Tunday Kababi) in Lucknow which is hundreds of years old. And this lip-smacking range of Awadhi delicacies is one-of-a-kind in the city (along with its other branch at the Desapriya Park, South Kolkata).
LOCATION – – – – – The place is located close to City Center, Saltlake at CD block. If you are familiar with the location of 6 Ballygung Place restaurant at Saltlake then you should be having no issues locating this place. It is near 6BP and on its opposite lane. You can park your car right in front of the restaurant.
AMBIANCE – – – – – The place has made a permanent residence in the hearts of the Calcuttans with its out-of-the-world food and with the much talked about Nawabi ambiance which you won’t find anywhere else in the city. The place boasts a period look recreating a 16th century feel with ornate designs on wooden panels, Mughal-era paintings, bronze statues, solid wood furnitures, huge royal chandeliers with stained-glass paintings and mesmerizing enigmatic Begum Akhtar playing in the background.
The bronze plated bell metal crockery and cutlery has been tailor-made for the eatery. Also you will find the waiters and the service team wearing lovely period costumes, not to forget the heavily mustached doorman at the entrance 🙂 All in all, the place scores full marks in terms of ambiance and interior decor and teleports you hundreds of years back to the times of Nawabs and old Lucknow, everything is so perfect. It satisfies and soothes your inner soul not only though your tastebuds but also through your eyes and other aesthetic senses. All this plus points surely eclipse the bit noisy atmosphere which is often created once the place is crowded during the lunch/dinner hours, this is because the place has got all wooden panels and glasses and has got not-so-good acoustics treatment as a result, which can be improved by adding few thick curtains at some strategic points maybe.
FOOD – – – – – It clearly shows that the head chef with royal khansama lineage knows all the key spices, well guarded ingredients and the right proportions of zafran, cinnamon, ghee, cardamom, dried fruits and herbs. The dishes which are honest outcome of this expertise and experience are sure to steal your heart. Here you will experience the best ‘Dum Pukht’ style of cooking in the city where the playful bawarchis spell magic by sealing the steam and creating wonders with them. This style of preparing food involves cooking in big cauldrons filled with rice, meat, vegetables and spices, and then sealed with dough and cooked to perfection over a mild flame so that the sealed steam aids the cooking in an extremely slow pace. We had to wait a bit to get our food which is quite common at this place, at least we got the seats instantly since we were among the first customers for that day. They do not take reservations; you are served on First-come-First-serve basis or you can opt for take-aways. The food started coming in after some long wait but I would say it was worth waiting. Here are the items we had ordered for:
(a) Aam Khaas – Lovely green mango flavored refreshing drink to start with, it was such a relief with the scorching heat of the sun outside. Tasted nearly like Aam Panna or aam-pora sherbet (which anyway tastes great) and was served in modern day glasses which I think can be replaced with vintage copper glasses / mugs to be in perfect sync with the entire Nawabi ambiance and theme.
(b) Galawati Kabab (mutton) – It was an amazing creamy meat paste with a dash of zafran and secret spices shaped as flattened meat balls or rather kababs. I absolutely loved it, should taste even better with some thin layered Lucknowi paranthas. Add some pickled onions in every bite and you will feel the royal bliss. Must try!
(c) Kakori Kabab (mutton) – The crumbly minced meat Kakori kabab was again good but we felt it was not of that melt-in-your-mouth types, it had a strange smoky aroma to it that was not very pleasant and according to me it fell a little short of that amazing quotient. I have had better Kakori kababs elsewhere previously.
(d) Awadhi Handi biriyani – Biriyanis are served in earthen handis. When the seal is removed the aroma of the zafran and ghee is sure to hit your senses. This biriyani had two pieces of mutton and two hard boiled eggs in it. The dish was prepared to perfection in dum pukht style with a soothing aroma of ghee that will somehow compel you to over-eat 🙂 But still you won’t feel uncomfortable due to all the high quality ingredients which are being used in these dishes. It is that light, yet delicious. Must try!
(e) Raan Biriyani – I personally liked this biriyani more since it had shredded mutton pieces and the lovely aroma of zafran and ghee. You will find mutton pieces in every bite of yours. It is very well-cooked and every rice nibble is so flavorful and aromatic that you can not simply waste any food here. Must try this dish!
(f) Murgh Mosallam – As we know, Murgh Mosallam actually means the whole chicken which was well appreciated by the royal Mughals. This whole chicken is in general marinated for hours or overnight and then stuffed with boiled eggs inside along with other spices. We were bit depressed since the whole chicken was cut to small pieces when served. But anyway apart from that, the dish tasted absolutely heavenly and nothing less than that! The thick gravy was amazing rich, yet light. The chicken pieces were succulent and extremely tender. The boiled eggs were going great along with this. The quantity served is huge and should be shared by 4-5 people. One Murgh Mosallam will cost you INR 800 exclusive taxes. Must try!
(g) Nehari Khaas (mutton) – Now I was tasting Nehari Khaas probably for the first time. I had heard a lot about it. It is one mutton side-dish served in small copper kadai. It is a stew kinda dish which is slow-cooked mutton along with the bone marrow. And believe me, it had an aroma which was simply amazing along with the super-soft mutton pieces. This dish is in general served after sunrise (for breakfast) since the word Nehar originates from Nahar which means ‘day’ in Arabic. But anyway here at Oudh 1590 we will get this dish all day long 🙂 This is one dish which is often said to be cooked overnight in earthen pots, so the meat is bound to be very tender and well cooked. Must try this dish! After having all these, in the end we were so full that we could not order the Shahi Tukra as dessert 😦
SERVICE – – – – – This was the part where I was totally disgusted, maybe because of the person who was initially looking after our table. The person was a very young guy totally unfit for such a fine-dine restaurant (named Arnab) and he was quite unprofessional. He came to us saying food will be served late to our table, when asked about the reason or by how many minutes it would be late he could not say a thing! We were among the first customers of the day but we found others have started having their lunch while we were still waiting, the basic kebabs were served so late that we had to cancel one order for some paranthas. When I asked him his name (which is quite a basic question) he said he has to think a bit and tell the name, we were awestruck seeing his audacity! 🙂 In the end he only said his firstname and denied disclosing his surname. Then on request he was replaced and one senior well-versed polite person started looking after our table. He made sure our orders are served fast and he himself served our food with ultimate care and even told us bit of history of Oudh and Nawabs (which I have written in this review) while we were having our food. This was such an ultimate delight and we almost forgot the unpleasant episode with that upstart waiter in the beginning. Such inexperienced person should not be employed at such an excellent dining destination, very educated and courteous service personals should only be working at this grandiose place. Overall I will deduct 0.5 point from the final rating for this unprofessional customer handling in the beginning.
CONCLUSION – – – – – Here are my granular ratings:
Food quantity: 3.9/5
Food quality: 4.4/5
Food presentation: 3.7/5
Value for money: 3.8/5
So to experience Nawabi cuisine at a royal banquet at Awadh you need to pay a visit to this place! The food served here is amazing and can not be found anywhere else in the city with such an awesome royal ambiance. It is worth every penny though I would say the tax component eats quite a bit of your royal dish. Though on the higher side but still I would say the dishes are quite rightly priced (excluding the taxes). The ambiance, food and Begum Akhtar put together churns out the ultimate bliss which you can feel from deep inside. So, do visit them and experience the bygone Nawabi era in a gastronome way!