Tunde Kebabs has 2 main (original) outlets in Lucknow. The original location in Chowk is a hole in the wall serving only 3 items: tunde ke kebabs, parathas & special parathas.
It is a testament to the quality of these kebabs that foodies from across the world treat a visit to the Chowk outlet as a pilgrimage and millions of others stop at the Aminabad outlet which has many more protein and kebab options to choose from. Tunde ke kebab has expanded into a chain - while we were quite disappointed with the Delhi outlet in Daryagang, the outlet in the food court of Rave Moti in Kanpur is quite an acceptable substitute, if you can't reach Lucknow for the real deal.
To reach the original Chowk outlet, you need to leave behind any prejudices you may have against the location/setting of a restaurant. This outlet is bang in the middle of the warren; that is the ancient Chowk market. Be ready to bump into 2 wheelers and cattle along the path. No way can a car get anywhere closer than 500 meters of this location. You know you are headed in the right direction when you see this gate.
The outlet is a further 100 metres past this gateway. The kitchen is between the seating area and the road the original "open kitchen". When you see plenty of bikes stopping right outside a window with chefs busy at work on the window - you know you have reached the right place.
There is one main chef who works on the ulthe tawa ke parathe (parathas cooked on an upside down frying pan) who just keeps roasting off hundreds of parathas each hour.
The kebab pan has a lot more activity and chefs around it. There is one main chef who actually fries the delicate kebabs and two apprentice chefs who shape the kebabs and keep dropping them into the pan.
Tunde Kebabs (a version of the famous Awadhi - Galaouti kebabs) supposedly got their name from the one armed chef who created them over a 100 years ago - Chef Murad Ali - nickname - Tunde.
The original recipe for these kebabs is a closely guarded secret and supposedly there are more than 160 spices mixed into the finely beaten choice cuts of meat. The meat is hand pounded so fine, that the texture is even softer and smoother than mashed potatoes or baby food. But combined with the potent spices, it definitely is adult food. The final kebab is so delicate, its impossible to pick up with your fingers and you definitely need the aid of the parathas to scoop it up.
The interiors are extremely basic, but seating is constantly in high demand. Plastic chairs, formica tables and ancient whirring ceiling fans which haven't yet decided whether their purpose is to keep the smoke away from your eyes, or waft the tantalising aromas towards you.
While the servings may look meagre when a plate is plonked in front of you, its actually quite filling when scooped up with the accompanying parathas and sliced onions (for texture)
Taking the preceding and following pictures was so tortuous on our tongues and tummies, that there are unfortunately absolutely no pictures of the cooked parathas.
Chilled soft drinks (500ml PET) and water were instantly sourced from a neighbouring shop and served at our table by the helpful staff on pre-payment. Between the 5 of us, we polished off (in the true sense of the word) at least 25 plates of kebabs and 15 parathas (we lost count after 5). The bill was a humongous 325Rs. (nope, not missing any digits there)
There's plenty of supervisory and substitute staff around and the whole set up works like clockwork, even when it looks chaotic.
Eating at the Original Tunde kebab in Lucknow is an experience, no true blue foodie should miss.
Fine Print : This outlet only serves bade ke kebab (code for beef), the Ameenabad outlet serves bade ke kebab (code for beef), chhote ke kebab (code for mutton) and chicken kebabs too. Most of the chain outlets only serve mutton and chicken, although if I remember right the Sharjah outlet used to also serve beef.