Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who was in the city recently to promote the latest season of a talent hunt on TV for amateur chefs, says there’s more to Lucknow than just biryani and Tundey kebabs, reports Times of India. “It’s a pity that Lucknow sirf apne kebab aur biryani ke liye jaana jaata hai. There’s so much that the city has to offer for foodies. But sadly, no one has given a thought to it. Let me give you an example. I went to Singapore and they asked me how they could promote the local food. Ab sab ko pata hai ki Singapore ki as such koi signature dish nahi hai. But still, we worked upon what can be highlighted and see, how popular the Singaporean Chilli Fish or noodles have become now! We need a similar approach to food in Lucknow also. Just as your monuments have a history, the food here also has a very rich history. Kaun si cheez kaise bani, kab bani… all this is part of your culture,” avers the chef, adding, “It’s a co-incidence, but just this morning when I was travelling to Lucknow, my friend, Roshan Abbas was also travelling with me, and he told me he was meeting the UP Chief Minister for the promotion of monuments and I was like ‘Why just monuments? Why not food?'” says Kapoor.
If someone would ask him, Chef Kapoor has a plan to promote cuisine and food specialities from Lucknow and around. “Food is a very scientific thing. So how it is to be marketed and popularised should also be done in a very scientific way. Say for example, the Malihabadi mangoes. The world knows Malihabad is a place near Lucknow and that one gets the best Dussehri mangoes there. Bas aap uspe focus kariye. Make five dishes of mangoes and make the USP Malihabadi mangoes. Take for example your itra. Now food is all about fragrance, so tell the world how the Kannauj ka itra can be utilised in food. Tell people about your Kakori Kebabs. That too has a history. When you tell people tales behind the food you’re seving, they will be more inquisitive and more willing to taste it. Highlight your kulche-nahari, shaami kebabs, which you don’t get anywhere else. Ek chhoti si, mamooli si cheez hai, bel ka sharbat. I remeber it being sold on the roadside during summers here in Lucknow. Maine yeh aur kahin nahi dekha. Aap logon ko uske bare main bataiyye. Talk about its properties and see how people will make a beeline for it! Ab iss se zyada aur kya chahiye kisi jagah ke liye. Make all of this unique to Lucknow,” he suggests. “What is required is to identify five-six most popular dishes in the city, highlight them and market them to the world – bas, lo jee, ho gaya aapka food tourism taiyar!” says the chef, with his trademark smile.