The bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum pukht style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today. Dum pukht is a slow cooking process in a sealed "handi," allowing the ingredients to mature in their own juices to bring out the intense flavors, aromas, and leisurely luxury of the food, while imbuing it with the richness that distinguishes the cuisine.
Awadhi biryani is a part of the wider sphere of Mughlai cuisine. Awadhi biryani was discovered by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah in 1784 when, in the grip of famine, he initiated a work-for-food program. Large cauldrons with rice, vegetables, meat, and spices were sealed to make a one-dish meal. The Nawab caught a whiff of the aromas emanating from the royal kitchens and ordered them to serve him the dish, thus discovering the “dum pukht” cuisine.
The richness of Awadhi cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine, but the ingredients used. Although the biryani originated in Persia (modern day Iran), biryani became a staple of Indian cuisine, enjoyed in various forms from street food vendors to luxurious dining experience at Chef Imtiaz Qureshi's "Dum Pukht Restaurant" at various ITC Hotels across India.
Awadhi biryani is subtle in taste, flavorful, aromatic, but not spicy like the Hyderabadi biryani. There has always been a debate about which biryani came first or the most authentic biryani. Some say it is Awadhi biryani, while others think Hyderabadi biryani is the original biryani. Awadhi biryani doesn't have a lot of spices, but still flavorful, rich, and immensely aromatic. One of the important and crucial steps separating Lucknowi (Awadhi) biryani is straining the whole spices from the yakhni. If you accidentally consume whole spices in the biryani, then it is not Lucknowi biryani. Lucknowi cuisine is subtle and a bite of the whole masalas in the biryani shouldn't be there.