At first glance, Awadh does not reveal itself entirely. It is a small and chic bilevel cozy place with a small bar by the entrance, with a cascading bubble glass chandelier descending from the ceiling by entrance. The light is subdued, created by the gold pendant lights reflecting against the dark wood paneling and plush banquettes.
As the evening wears on, it turns out to be spectacular. The food, and the passion with which it is prepared, changed my perception of what I know Indian food to be here in New York City. My relationship with Indian cuisine is now tied up with a knot of love that will never be broken.
Restaurateur and chef Gaurav Anand comes from a family of lawyers and restaurateurs from New Delhi. Although he graduated with a business administration degree, he was passionate about food.
A life-changing incident while working for his brother’s catering business in India made him realize that he had to learn how to cook. At one event, he was wondering why there was a delay in the food preparation. When he inquired about it in the kitchen, the chef challenged him to cook the food himself if he did not like the pace. And so he started learning to cook, learning by watching chefs and recreating their recipes.
While traveling in northern India he fell in love with the flavors and cuisine of the Awadh region and its dum pukht slow cooking style.
Awadh’s food is influenced by the many empires that ruled the region, from Mongolians to Moguls. It was the cuisine of India’s rulers.
Although you will find vegetarian dishes, the focus is on meat. It is cooked in a traditional sealed handi over a low flame for many hours to allow deep, complex flavors to develop. Mostly cooked with ghee, milk, and cream with strong emphasis on legumes, lentils, pulses, milk, curd, and buttermilk instead of water, yielding elegant and refined dishes you will salivate over.