AWADH: The First Restaurant In Southeast Asia Serving Up Little-Known Cuisine Once Enjoyed By Indian Royalty
Once you've tried Awadhi cuisine, you'll definitely come back for more.
Singapore is not short of great Indian restaurants and we are excited to share that a unique one has joined the list!
The Centrepoint recently introduced a new gem in its food precinct, and foodies will be delighted to hear that this restaurant is a one-of-its-kind in Southeast Asia. AWADH serves up a cuisine native to their namesake historic region in northern India, which comprises districts such as modern-day Faizabad and Lucknow.
According to the restaurant’s founders, it’s difficult to find truly authentic Awadhi cuisine even in India as only a limited number of chefs have mastered this meticulous method of cooking. This is perhaps fitting since this cuisine was once enjoyed by Muslim rulers called Nawaabs and Hindu emperors who were known for their love of luxury and food.
While Awadhi cuisine shares similar characteristics with cuisines from Central Asia and the Middle East, it distinguishes itself by its cooking method. Centuries ago, chefs from the Awadh region invented the dum pukht method of cooking - a slow-cooking technique where ingredients are cooked in dough-sealed containers which are left over a low flame. This method not just retains the flavours and aroma of the food, but also the nutrients.
From left: Santwana Shrivastava, Manisha Kishore & Minal Jadhav, founders of AWADH.
Today, Awadhi dishes are only typically found in high-end restaurants or hotels, which come with a hefty price tag. This led the founders of AWADH to open a restaurant to share Awadhi fare at friendlier prices.
We speak to Santwana Shrivastava, Manisha Kishore, and Minal Jadhav, the trio behind this unique venture to learn more about Awadhi cuisine, and what to expect at the 70-seater restaurant.
Tell us more about your motivation behind opening this restaurant?
When we travel to India, our trip is never complete without getting our fix of Awadhi food. However, it is difficult to get our hands on authentic Awadhi dishes in some parts of India.
We’ve had the idea of opening an Awadhi restaurant for 18 years now, and we’re glad that it’s finally happening. It took a lot of research and convincing the chefs to agree to be part of this adventure.
Our goal is to share this gastronomic experience with the masses, and we can assure you that once you have tried Awadhi cuisine, you’ll come back for more.
What makes Awadhi cuisine, and your restaurant unique?
The first time I tried Awadhi food, I remember thinking that it was unlike anything I had ever tasted. There are easily 25 spices used in each dish, including exotic flavours of saffron, cardamom, and more – some dishes have up to 100 spices in them, and each spice can cost up to S$100 per kilogram! This, combined with the dum pukht cooking style, made the flavours and aroma of the food come to life. I have been mesmerised since.
In the past, chefs serving the Nawaabs would keep their methods and recipes a secret to ensure that others could not steal them. This meant that very few individuals were privy to their prized secrets. Among the individuals in the know is the Qureshi family, whose lineage can be traced to legendary chefs and kitchens of the Nawaabs of Awadh. The family etched their name into Indian cuisine folklore in the 70s when a few Qureshi brothers became successful chefs at several restaurants in India. Many descendants of the brothers are established chefs till today.
Chefs from the esteemed Qureshi family lead the kitchen at AWADH.
To ensure the same standards of cooking and the authenticity of our dishes, we have Shahnawaz Qureshi, a fourth-generation descendant of the famous Qureshi family as our consultant chef, and Chef Haseeb Qureshi to lead the kitchen at AWADH.
Food also played an important role in diplomacy for the Naawabs at the time. This is evident in the multicultural kitchen, with a select group of Hindu and Muslim cooks. Since AWADH embodies a sangam (union) of cultures, we also have Chef Rakesh Satish Savant who has been a veteran in Singapore's North Indian food scene for more than a decade.
This sense of multiculturalism is also reflected in the food served at AWADH. All our ingredients are sourced from Halal suppliers. We also have a separate kitchen to prepare our vegetarian dishes, and to clean the glasses that are used to serve alcohol.
What are some of the must-try dishes at AWADH?
Kebabs have always been an important part of Awadhi cuisine. It was said that one Nawaab lost his teeth to old age but did not want to lose the pleasure of eating meat-based food. So, he asked his cook to prepare a type of kebab that didn’t require chewing. This brought about the Awadhi style of melt-in-your mouth kebabs.
AWADH’s signature Gosht Galawat Kebabs take 8 hours to cook to give it that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Authentic Awadhi kebabs are the primary highlight at our restaurant. This includes our signature dish, the Gosht Galawat Kebabs prepared with minced mutton and using more than 25 spices. Our kebabs are best paired with soft parathas and condiments, as well as fine wines and spirits which our sommelier will gladly recommend.
Their Awadhi Dum Murgh Biryani is served with 3 condiments that perfectly complement the fragrant rice.
We also have the famous Awadhi biryanis, curries and kormas. Our vegetarian patrons shouldn’t have to worry either as we place an equal emphasis on vegetarian options with our Sabz Galawat Kebabs, slow cooked Sultani Dal and more.
For desserts, we are proud to include Shahi Tukda (which translates to “royal piece” in Awadhi dialect) in our menu. It is an elevated version of the bread pudding, which we’re sure will delight the taste buds of our patrons.
What else can diners look forward to at AWADH?
Lucknow has always been a multicultural city that flourished as a cultural and artistic hub. We knew that our restaurant would not be complete without any form of art incorporated in it.
Besides the great food and ambience, we wanted the dining experience here to be one for all the senses. Traditional live music will be played at our restaurant, and we are working hard to bring flair bartending into our premises to entertain diners at the bar area. We also hope to bring in works from local artists to be exhibited in our restaurant soon.
Nothing quite brings forth such a distinctive dining experience like AWADH. With its revival of a little-known but centuries-old cuisine, the restaurant is a wonderful opportunity for us to discover and enjoy the different tastes and aromas of Awadhi dishes right here in Singapore.
Visit AWADH at The Centrepoint (#01-33H