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‘Bawarchis’ and  ‘Nanbyes’ supplied a variety of food to the ‘dyodhi’ (literally, threshold of the door) of their patrons. The food came in khana (trays) covered with ‘sarposh’ draped on a dome shaped mesh, which was secured with a tape and sealed with lac. This was done in order to prevent any tempering of the food. As time went by, the patron Nawabs perished and these cooks and their descendants were forced to open small shops to earn a living. One such eatery is that of Haji Sakhawat near the Lucknow Gymkhana Club. Hardly a place where one can sit and enjoy a meal, it is patronized by food lovers who get their favourite dish packed, to be savoured in more congenial surroundings. Sakhawat’s eatery offers a number of mouth watering dishes such as the Shami kababs, Mutton korma, Khade masale ki biryani, Tamatar Goli and Khatti Machhli, to name just a few. The ‘Khatti Machhli’ or sour fish is a famous fish preparation of Awadh. The liberal use of curds lends it an enjoyabletanginess. The most favourite fish for this preparation is the Rohu. The abdomen cut of a big fish is preferred as that portion has fewer bones.


Fish                             1 ½ kg

Onions                        250 gms

Curds                          350 gms

Ginger                         15 gms

Garlic                          15 gms

Red chilli powder            1 ½ tsp

Coriander                   2 tbsp

Turmeric powder            ½ tsp

Salt                              to taste

Cinnamon                   5 gms

Mace                          1 blade

Brown cardamom            2

Black pepper corns   1 tbsp

Cloves                         10

Green cardamom            10

Green coriander             50 gms

Mustard oil/ghee            250 gms


 Cut the fish into 2” pieces, removing the head and tail. Wash and clean the fish. Apply the turmeric powder and ½ tsp salt. Grind the onions, ginger and garlic to a paste. Chop the coriander leaves finely. Grind the cinnamon, mace, 5 cloves, 5 cardamom, brown cardamoms and pepper corns (garam masala). Put a patili on the fire and pour the oil/ghee in it. When hot, add 5 cloves and 5 green cardamoms, onions, ginger-garlic paste, coriander, chilli powder and salt and fry till the ghee separates. Then gradually add the fish stirring carefully for 5 minutes. Next, add the beaten curds and the garam masala.Cover and cook on slow flame for 15 to 20 minutes till the fish is done and the ghee floats on the top. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.