Food and fitness in Lucknow

Food and fitness in Lucknow

I’ve been trying rather hard to keep an eye on my weight this year with some decent amount of success. But then the children had exams and they seemed to need help the moment I put on my sneakers for a walk. The stress of it all meant walks and exercise took a backseat.

Moving on – right after the exams came vacations. We travelled to Delhi and then to my hometown and that meant F.O.O.D.

The first morning in Lucknow I woke up to a pile of jalebis and khastas at the breakfast table. I’ll probably need to do a whole post on the Lakhnawi jalebis but for now let me just say that they served to kick off my food fest. It would have been absolute blasphemy, not to say inconceivably rude, to not be ru-ba-ru with my old favourites. If you’ve been with me on Instagram you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. While the children waded through cartons of Amul Icecream, I renewed my friendship with Lakhnawi sweets – malai chamcham, kaju pedas and motichur laddoos. That’s not to say I didn’t sample the ice creams. This season the Caramel  Cookies flavour from Amul absolutely topped my list.

Coming back to Lucknow, the chaat here is something else. The pani puris are perfect. As Goldilocks would say – not to hot not too sweet, they’re just right. And there’s matar – boiled and mashed white peas fried over a low flame in lota-fulls of ghee (The chat wallahs actually keep a lota full of ghee on the edge of their giant tawa). When it’s garnished with crisp crushed papadi, green chutney, fresh coriander and long ginger juliennes, it’s a party in the mouth.


And just when the party’s getting too hot you take up a pattal of sweet cool kulfi topped by pista flakes and two types of falooda.

Kulfi with two kinds of falooda

Then of course there’s the ma-ke-haath-ka-khana, my favourite – jackfruit fried to a crisp in mustard oil and singhade ka achar (water-chestnut pickle) – I’m not even sure many have heard of those. My mom, the strongest advocator of healthy eating and the loudest YOU-NEED-TO-LOSE-WEIGHT voice was torn between serving up my favourite foods and exhorting me to not binge. That was seriously funny.

Deep fried jackfruit fritters

Oh and this isn’t really a food thing but I have to make a mention. Each year sometime in the month of May is the Bara Mangal – a grand celebration of Lord Hanuman. I’ve written about it here. Numerous pandals serving free food and drink come up overnight, every Tuesday for a month. It might essentially be for the poor but the puri-and aaloo-kaddu ki sabzi one gets at these pandals is absolutely delicious. No matter how hard one tries, it is impossible to replicate at home. A bit like the kada prasad one gets at gurudwaras – it never tastes the same at home. So every Tuesday my lunch (and sometimes evening snack) menu had puri-subzi.


Aloo puri, the staple at Bara Mangal

To make matters more complicated, my sleepy hometown is slowly awakening to diverse cuisines – national and international. So we also have to do cafes and coffee shops, sizzlers and mocktails, fine dining and lavish buffets.


Did you see that? This was meant to be a stock-taking post on food and fitness but fitness seems to have taken the far back seat! This, right here, is what my problem is. I need focus, focus, focus!

For the first few days I managed to stick to a morning walk. Since my two homes – the in-laws and the parents are really close by the walk worked well because I’d start off from one place and drop by at the other for my morning cup of tea. But then the charm of lazy morning conversations took over and the plan went bust.

Now I’m back home and just as I was gathering the courage to step onto my brand new weighing machine the maid did the disappearing act (yet again). I’ve been spending my days mopping and dusting, lunging and squatting more than I’d ever done in my one hour a day at the gym. So my fitness routine should soon be on track. It is true, you know, what Coehello or SRK or whoever said – The Universe does look out for you if you want something with full shiddat.

What’s more my evening walks are beginning to make me happy. The nights are turning cool with the monsoon expected any day now. The days when the wind Gods are happy it’s an absolute delight to be out in the open with my iPod. Most importantly I get to switch off for those thirty or forty minutes from the chaos up at home.

While on fitness – I’d love some help on healthy salad recipes. Do leave them in the comments. Any other happy low-fat diet ideas would be great too.

Linking up with Shilpa and Bellybytes for #FlavoursomeTuesday. 

21 Replies to “Food and fitness in Lucknow”

  1. What a mouth-watering post! The description of all the goodies made me so hungry!! Thankfully it’s time for my morning coffee, so I’ll make do with it for now.

    As for your mom’s dilemma, I totally understand. That’s the thing with mommies, right.. They are torn between wanting to do right by us and simply pampering us all the time. 😀

  2. I am reading this at the lunch hour. It made me hungrier. And all I’ve to eat today is bottle gourd! Such a cruel thing to happen to poor me.
    Yummy post dear!

  3. Oh, I am missing Lucknow now and I so want to have the jalebis, paani puris and the chaat!! I am craving for the kebabs too!!
    Vacation, food and fitness do not go together, so glad that you had a good time with the first two and getting back to fitness now. We are in the same boat, my maid has done a vanishing act and I am in maid mode these past few days too! SIGH!

    1. It’s always hard to stick to a routine during vacations. I’m getting back slowly though. Have been walking pretty regularly and plan to join a gym too, soon enough. Maids are a blessing when they’re around and we become so dependent on them that when they’re not there life becomes tough.

  4. You know it is 8.21 am exactly here and to read this post in the morning of a day when I woke up with the resolution of No tea and no chocolates, this post wasn’t helpful at all. Jalebis are my favourite. This was a thing I constantly craved for in pregnancy. And I have a sweet tooth and a namkeen tooth (whatever it means). So chamchams, malai chaaps, ice creams, pani puri, khasta kachodi, kaddu ki sabzi aur poori, sab aane do. I am a UPite too, by roots.

    1. Namkeen-tooth – that’s the first time I’ve head this. But I get you. Each time we talk about weightloss someone will say I don’t have a sweet tooth or I din’t like friend stuff so giving it up becomes that much easier. But for people like me (and you) who like EVERYTHING, life’s tough! Sigh!

  5. Damn! You have me craving pani puris and Indian food in general. I’m not a fan of Indian sweets but all the other stuff….drool! I’m sure food is going to be my downfall when I get to India later this year. Will have to figure out how to incorporate fitness into this.

  6. Such a beautiful glimpse of my city, Lucknow. I am drooling! When on vacation it is a constant battle not to tuck in but all the goodies are so tempting. So happy for you. I am sure fitness will be back on track soon. These days I am worried that I am gaining weight since I haven’t worked out for 6 weeks now. But kya karen, life. For salad and soup recipes, just search on my blog.

  7. Oh God! What a post this is!! Food an food thats making us all drool over. Lucknow for years has been synonymous with good food. And this post reminds me that its tim I actually make a trip soon. I remember a friend of min who described the yummy shahi tukdas you get there. tried that out too?

    1. You must go there sometime Ramya. It has plenty of food plus historical places to go to. Quite perfect for a traveller. My mom makes great shahi tukda so I didn’t go anywhere looking for it :-).

  8. I second Shilpa. You cannot do a post like this and then leave us all drooling. You terrible person, you! Now I have craving for jalebi and it’s past 9 pm and where do I go for it? Pah!

    On another note, what a lovely vacation you’ve had. I’m so glad for you. I love that about evening walks by the way. Just me and my headphones and the cool breeze. Such bliss.

  9. Tulika, next time you visit your home town, please take me along… Please..please.. Please!!!
    I was left speechless at the spread on display.. And drooling like a puppy!!

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