Alamgir

Nazirabad

Mujir Ahmad is overseeing the service and the billing. He says– “More than 50 years have gone by since Alamgir Restaurant was started. It has been our endeavour to serve the food that the nawabi families used to eat, to all discerning clients. This has been our traditional occupation. Before my father, my grandfather used to run a ‘nanbai’ shop. I still have a diary that Grandfather used to keep accounts. There’s an old gentleman, must be above 80 now, who still owes us eight annas!” My father started Alamgir in 1968. No-one in our family was called Alamgir—my father named the restaurant after the Moghul king Aurangzeb. He used to say that before migrating to Lucknow in Nawabi times, our ancestors were chefs to Aurangzeb. This is why our food has flavours of not only Lucknow, but Delhi as well. You go to any other place in Lucknow for a meal, and then bring your august presence here. You will understand what I am saying very easily..” The whole bylane is redolent of the flavours of band gosht, ‘ishtoo’ (stewed mutton), chicken with black peppers, brainKulchas leap out of the tandoor opposite. This ambience has not changed much since 1968, but the walls of the sitting area are now tiled and the furniture is new. An old customer who is listening in interestedly tells us: “These people are very strict. Many years back, there was some civil unrest, and the restaurant shut down for several days. When it opened, I rushed to get myself some chicken. Hafiz-ji’s father was in charge at that time. He refused me point blank.” “No chicken will be cooked today.” “Why, are the chickens striking too?” I asked. “I can’t get free-range, local birds. Only (farmed) broilers. I just can’t bring myself to cook those miserable things!”