This cookbook, although palpable with nostalgia, selectively recaptures events and objects from the past that are a part of the intangible heritage of food and familial memories of gentler times. These are collective memories that conserve a sense of continuity, of belonging and of being rooted. I believe food engenders social and family harmony; it anchors us and connects us to the past, grounds us in the present and gives us a sense of identity and belonging. Our personal histories define us and I have chosen to define this partly through Lucknow’s food traditions.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time



  • 8 medium-sized fillets sole fish (or any good white river fish)
  • 500 gm onion, finely chopped
  • 500 gm tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 12 whole black peppercorns
  • 10 almonds (blanched, peeled and separated into halves)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 green chillies
  • 1 whole snow mountain garlic (cloves separated and fried whole for garnishing)
  • 1 whole garlic (cloves separated, peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp onion paste
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ cup sunflower oil


  1. Cut the fish into 3-inch fillets and soak them in lime juice or vinegar for 10 minutes. Then wash under clean running water.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic pastes with black peppercorns and bay leaves and sauté for 3 minutes. Add and sauté the chopped cloves of garlic with the chopped onions, without allowing them to brown. Then add the chopped tomatoes with the black pepper powder and salt. Allow the mixture to simmer to reduce the water content from the tomatoes. Slide the fish fillets into the gravy. Cook for 10–15 minutes, until the fish is tender.
  3. Serve hot. Before serving, gently mix in the fried snow mountain garlic cloves, green chillies and garnish with the blanched and halved almonds.

Excerpted with permission from The Lucknow Cookbook, Chand Sur and Sunita Kohli, Aleph Book Company.

Chand Sur

Chand Sur

Chand Sur was born in 1925 in Bahawalpur, Undivided Punjab, and brought up in Quetta. She is an inventive cook who places great emphasis on nutritious and healthy meals. Her lunch, dinner and tea parties are legendary. She has passed on her love of cooking to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. A voracious reader and an adventurous traveller, Chand is deeply interested in other cultures and people.

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Sunita K Kohli

Sunita K Kohli

Sunita K Kohli is an interior designer, a reputed leader in historical interior architectural restoration and, since 1972, a manufacturer of fine contemporary and classical furniture. She was the first interior designer to be conferred the Padma Shri in 1992. She developed a passion for cooking from her mother and enjoys trying new recipes. Widely travelled, Sunita brings influences from different cultures into her architecture as well as her cooking.

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