In March, Dum Biryani founder Dhruv Mittal will open his second restaurant — Lucknow Social, a Indian restaurant specialising in Lucknowi (northern Indian) cuisine, on Maddox Street, off Regent Street in Mayfair. It’s a major graduation for Mittal and his team, which opened the small, subterranean, and hyper regional Dum Biryani House on Wardour Street, Soho in 2016.
As originally reported by Hot Dinners, Mittal says the inspiration from the “low and slow Awadhi cooking of the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh,” — a refined North Indian cuisine style to which biryanis, galauti kebabs, and curries belong.
Mittal, who before opening Dum, worked at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, Restaurant Sat Baines in Nottingham, and now-closed Hibiscus (also on Maddox Street). The chef-turned-restaurateur has used recent travels across India to improve his skills and knowledge of regional cuisine. He says that Lucknow Social will “reflect his time spent working as a chef at the luxurious Oberoi hotel in Agra, in their trademark Awadhi restaurant, Esphahan,” east of the city of Lucknow. It was there that he “fell in love with the ‘dum’ method of cooking over a low flame, synonymous with the area.”
At lunchtime, an efficient service will offer the likes of gilafi kulcha (bread) with a choice of chicken kakori or lamb galauti kebab, and a smaller biryani to take away.
At dinner, there’ll be a choice of kebabs, “based on the dishes beloved of the Mughal emperors whose Persian roots inspired much of the Awadhi style.”
- Kakori kebab with clove, black pepper, and cinnamon, grilled over coals.
- Lamb galauti — minced lamb and over 50 dry spices, hand-pounded into a soft paste and gently fried, a dish originally invented for a toothless nawab (viceroy) of the region.
- Biryanis, will including an Awadhi chicken biryani, with saffron, rose water, screw pine essence, and a ‘perfume’ made with the roots of several flowers and seeds alongside a new ‘safed’, or white rish dish made with 16-hour simmered lamb stock also known as a yakhni pulao.
- Curries are are simmered slowly over a low heat: they’ll include a mild lamb neck korma, with saffron; and taar gosht, (‘sticky lamb’) a specialty of Lucknow’s royal kitchens which uses a spice-marinated lamb leg slowly cooked for several hours to create a thick sauce.
- Sides will include breads (parathas and kulchas), pickled lacha onion, and coriander chutney.
- Cold desserts will include a homemade matka kulfi with almonds and rosewater, and phirni, sweet rice pudding.
About the new restaurant, Mittal said:
“Awadhi cooking is a slow process, with most dishes taking days to prepare — it’s a real labour of love. Spending time cooking in Agra and travelling around Lucknow, I was blown away by its multi-layered flavours and cooking techniques. I’m looking forward to bringing this style of cooking to Lucknow Social, and creating an escape where people can gather to socialise over a North Indian feast.”
Eater London contributor and wine flaneur, Zeren Wilson, has been brought in to write a short list designed to pair with Lucknowi cuisine, including a collection of champagnes. Wilson, having carved himself a niche, has worked on the lists for some of the most cutting-edge small restaurants in the city. Past clients include Santo Remedio, Smoking Goat, Kiln, Sambal Shiok, Arabica Bar and Kitchen, and Shuang Shuang. Mittal is also collaborating with Hackney Brewery to launch to launch a Lucknow Social beer.
Mittal has partnered with the award-winning New York-based design company MP Shift, who want, through the interiors, to “celebrate the colours of India, the idiosyncrasies of Indian roadside café and the warmth of a Dhaba kitchen.”
Mittal has created a soundtrack of acoustic Indian music which includes “laid-back chilled beats and elements of Urdu pop.”