Story of iconic Awadhi bread Sheermal

01/5The history behind the invention of Sheermal

Lucknow is famous all over the world for its delicious taste and people are especially crazy about the Lucknowi Kebab, Biryani, Sheermal along with various chicken & mutton dishes. In this article, we’ll be talking about the Sheermal Roti which is the identity of the Nawabi city. There are several interesting tales behind how this Roti came into being! (Images courtesy: iStock)


02/5Interesting tales of Sheermal

As per a popular story, the then Nawab Nasruddin ordered his cook – Janashin Ali Hussain that there are many things in the treasury of Hindus, what new will you bring? After listening to this, Hussain ordered a tandoor from Iran and prepared a sweet Tandoori bread, which came to be known as the first tandoori item in the history of India. Earlier it was called Bakarkhani and was prepared with flour, dry fruits, saffron, desi ghee and milk. The khanaama made a few combinations of these Rotis and presented them to the Nawab. When he ate this bread, he loved the Bakarkhani and its shape. He asked the cook to make this variation only, which later came to be known as ‘Cheermaal’, as it was supposed to be torn off. Later on it became popular as ‘Sheermal’.

Another story says that this delicious bread was prepared during the reign of Naseeruddin Haider in Lucknow. A person named Mahmood had opened a small restaurant in Firangi Mahal where Nihari was famous and he apparently created a new form of roti to be eaten with a bowl of Nihari. Later, this roti came to be known as Sheermal. Mahmood’s chief cook was Ali Hussain, who later set up his own stall and since then, Ali Hussain Sheermal has become an integral part of this town. This shop was started in 1830 in Sheermal Wali Gali, Lucknow and is presently run by Mohammad Umar and his nephew, Mohammad Junaid, in the sixth generation of the family.


03/5But what is Sheermal?

‘Sheermal’ is a form of roti, which is slightly sweet in taste and hence it is eaten with Nihari or Salan. Today you will get many types of Sheermal to eat. It is cooked in an iron tandoor. It is traditionally prepared with flour, milk, ghee and saffron, etc. Each ingredient gives a new style to Sheermal. Just as saffron is used to colour it, milk increases its sweetness. It gets a distinct aroma from kewra and ittra and it gets texture from ghee. (Image courtesy: Instagram/@delhifoodgirl)


04/5How it is made?

The softness of Sheermal depends on how you are kneading the flour and ghee is poured over it. Even today, dough is made from flour by weighing it in his shop. After this, it is rolled out and small holes are made in it with a tool called ‘Choka’, so that it does not swell when baked in the tandoor.


05/5The variations

The orange-coloured Sheermal is what we generally get to see anywhere. But, today one can find other varieties of this popular Awadhi bread such as Zafrani and Zainbia Sheermal along with Bakarkhani. (Image courtesy: Instagram/@thefoodmemory)


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